Deep Work – Some Observations

Random Observations While Reading the Book –


  1. If I organise my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. If instead I get interrupted a lot, what replaces it? Instead of a novel that will be around for a long time, there is a bunch of e-mail essages that I have sent out to individual persons. – Neal Stepehnson
  2. 2012 McKinsey Stury – 60% of workweek of avg worker engages in answer emails and googling, 30% – exclusivey spent on answering emails.
  3. Most of them involved in Shallow Work – Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate..
  4. Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.
  5. Our work culture’s shift toward the shallow (whether you think it’s philosophically good or bad) is exposing a massive economic and personal opportunity for the few who recognize the potential of resisting this trend and prioritizing depth.
  6. His method was drastic but effective. “I locked myself in a room with no computer: just textbooks, notecards, and a highlighter.” He would highlight the computer programming textbooks, transfer the ideas to notecards, and then practice them out loud.
  7. Deep work is not some nostalgic affectation of writers and early-twentieth-century philosophers. It’s instead a skill that has great value today. 2 reasons
    1. To remain valuable in our knowledge economy, therefore, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things. This task requires deep work.
    2. The reach of your product is limitless because of internet. Therefore if what you’re producing is mediocre, then you’re in trouble, as it’s too easy for your audience to find a better alternative online. To succeed you have to produce the absolute best stuff you’re capable of producing—a task that requires depth.
  8. The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.
  9. ruthlessly culling the shallow and painstakingly cultivating the intensity of my depth.

Chapter – 1 Deep Work is Valuable

  1. We are in the early throes of a Great Restructuring,” Brynjolfsson and McAfee explain early in their book. “Our technologies are racing ahead but many of our skills and organizations are lagging behind.” For many workers, this lag predicts bad news.
  2. what makes Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s analysis particularly useful is that they proceed to identify three specific groups that will fall on the lucrative side of this digital divide and reap a disproportionate amount of the benefits
    1. The High-Skilled Workers – Nate Silver, of course, with his comfort in feeding data into large databases, then siphoning it out into his mysterious Monte Carlo simulations, is the epitome of the high-skilled worker. Intelligent machines are not an obstacle to Silver’s success, but instead provide its precondition.
    2. The Superstars – Once the talent market is made universally accessible, those at the peak of the market thrive while the rest suffer.
    3. The Owners – The Great Restructuring, unlike the postwar period, is a particularly good time to have access to capital. To understand why, first recall that bargaining theory, a key component in standard economic thinking, argues that when money is made through the combination of capital investment and labor, the rewards are returned, roughly speaking, proportional to the input. As digital technology reduces the need for labor in many industries, the proportion of the rewards returned to those who own the intelligent machines is growing. A venture capitalist in today’s economy can fund a company like Instagram, which was eventually sold for a billion dollars, while employing only thirteen people. When else in history could such a small amount of labor be involved in such a large amount of value?
  3. How to Become a Winner in the New Economy – two groups that are poised to thrive and that I claim are accessible: those who can work creatively with intelligent machines and those who are stars in their field.
  4. Two Core Abilities for Thriving in the New Economy

    1. The ability to quickly master hard things.
    2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.

  5. If you want to become a superstar, mastering the relevant skills is necessary, but not sufficient. You must then transform that latent potential into tangible results that people value. To push his current skills to their limit and produce unambiguously valuable and concrete results.
  6. If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.

    Rest in the next post.


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