Cal Newport

Cal Newport

Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University & Author of 'So Good They Can't Ignore You'

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 06, 2016

Discussion

Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
Hi - I'm Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University, and the author of Deep Work, which agues that focus is the new I.Q. Ask me anything...
Edmond Lau
Edmond Lau@edmondlau · Author, Engineer at Quip
@studyhacksblog Hello from a fellow MIT alum (’05) & author, and congrats on your launch! I finished your book yesterday and really enjoyed the theme of deliberate focus. I liked that you very clearly laid out and specified your principles and rules, to the point where many of them are straightforward to implement. Well done! I’m really curious to learn more about how you think about work versus play. For instance, you write in your book that you generally don’t work past 5:30pm, but you also mention that you enjoy writing blog posts after your kids are asleep. Writing thoughtful blog posts definitely takes a lot of focus and concentration. As someone who also blogs (on leverage in engineering), I would have categorized blogging as deep work, but it almost seems as if you defined blog posts outside of work? Perhaps you consider blogging to be “deep play” rather than “deep work”? More generally, there are various, intellectually challenging activities or side projects that one might consider to be fun or play, rather than work. At the same time, it’s also very common in a place like Silicon Valley for someone to fall into the trap of “I love my startup work so much that there’s nothing else I would rather do with my spare time.” Given that you’re fairly rigorous about restricting your work hours — what is your mental framework for evaluating whether or not to allow projects like book- or blog-related activities that you might border between fun/play and work to enter into your leisure time? And are you as structured with your leisure time (to the level of “schedule every minute of your day”) as you are with your normal work-day?
Dain Miller
Dain Miller@dain · PIF.gov / USDS / 18F 🇺🇸Startup advisor
@edmondlau Just as a heads up: in a recent webinar he mentions how he can go from idea to completed blog post in about 40-70 minutes, so he views it as very light work in some sense. He mentioned he has been writing professionally since 20 (now 33) so he is very skilled at efficient writing. But great question.
Dain Miller
Dain Miller@dain · PIF.gov / USDS / 18F 🇺🇸Startup advisor
@edmondlau PS - Edmond, your book made me such a better software engineer. I love it so much. Thanks so much for your work writing that.
Edmond Lau
Edmond Lau@edmondlau · Author, Engineer at Quip
@dain @edmondlau That is efficient writing for sure!
Edmond Lau
Edmond Lau@edmondlau · Author, Engineer at Quip
@dain @edmondlau And you're welcome on the book -- happy to have helped.
Haowen Chan
Haowen Chan@purpleturtle
Have you thought about setting up a community where deep work enthusiasts can support each other with Q&A about what worked for them during their training, and share their progress?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@purpleturtle That would be great. If anyone has a suggestion for the right tool for this purpose, I'm all ears.
Darshan Desai
Darshan Desai@darshan_desai
@studyhacksblog @purpleturtle That's a great suggestion! I'd love to be a part of that!
Erik van Mechelen
Erik van Mechelen@decision_ · Essayist and fiction writer
@studyhacksblog @purpleturtle I believe I've done a decent amount of deep work in writing a novel and preparing for the 2014 USA memory championship...and I love community-building and management, would love to set up that community on Slack, for instance. May I contact you about it?
Haowen Chan
Haowen Chan@purpleturtle
@studyhacksblog @purpleturtle I've found that traditional forum/bbs formats work well for this due to their threaded nature. There are some free options listed here: https://www.quora.com/What-is-th...
Kelly P King
Kelly P King@kkbranddesign · Owner, Kelly King Creative
@studyhacksblog @purpleturtle I would suggest a Facebook Private Group. I have been a member of another group with a consultant and we shared our thoughts and work for one month. It was very helpful, motivating and fun.
Junius
Junius@juniusfree
What is your opinion on this research (http://pss.sagepub.com/content/e...) which dismisses the importance of deliberate practice particularly for professions (1% variance for professions)? Thanks!
Haowen Chan
Haowen Chan@purpleturtle
@juniusfree For those of us without access to the article, can someone explain what is meant by "professions"? Does it cover everything from surgery to grocery cashier?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@juniusfree Be wary of the anti-deliberate practice research. Such papers began to peak after outliers mainly because academics don't like Malcolm Gladwell (my theory). Anders Ericsson wrote a rebuttal recently (cited in DEEP WORK) about why a lot of this anti-deliberate practice research is not that good.
Paolo Usero
Paolo Usero@paolo · Graduate Student
@purpleturtle @juniusfree A quick glance through and it seems that professions is woefully under represented in their statistics for such a large category.
Katie
Katie@deadacct3000 · Blowhard
I'm interested to know what you see are the supports in your life that are vital for you to be able to work at the intensity that you do, and what you do to create/maintain/renew those supports. For example, lack of any meaningful human contact in a day coupled with working in front of a screen rather than with physical objects can feel quite lonely and isolating. A couple days of this in a row becomes distressing for many of us. During the workday, we may use social media to seek out the company of others in a frictionless way that we can exit anytime as an efficient, though inadequate, solution to this. I think when we are trying to address very deep and possibly unacknowledged needs with quick fixes that break our focus and drain our cognitive reserves - social media for loneliness, meeting others' shallow work requests quickly to gain a sense of urgency to work that seems depressingly unnecessary - removing those quick fixes won't be sufficient to get us to a place where we can gather our focus and do deep work long-term. We must move towards having those very human needs met in an authentic and lasting way, along with building more mature work habits. Or, perhaps we just need to build our tolerance to negative emotions, I don't know. What's your take?
Nicolay Worren
Nicolay Worren@nicolayworren · Nicolay Worren, business school prof.
@deadacct3000 Well said. I would guess personality differences play a role here, some people get their energy from interacting with other people. I would add that I also need to interact with a broad set up of people to get ideas; despite being a professor I get more ideas from talking to people in organizations, than I do from reading academic papers.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@deadacct3000 It's a good question. I do a lot of my work on foot or in locations other than my offices because I too get drained if I spend too much time in the same room looking at the same screen. I also try to keep my life simple. I work during the normal work day and work real hard (no web surfing, no loafing, etc.) But then my evenings and weekends I can really relax, connect with people, etc. But it's worth pointing out, as Nicolay does below, that for an extrovert the intense workday might be much harder than it is for an introvert like me.
Andrew Golnar
Andrew Golnar@andrew_golnar · Graduate Student, Texas A&M University
@studyhacksblog What are your thoughts on caffeine?
Junius
Junius@juniusfree
What should a generalist (jack of all trades) need to do to advance his/her career? Thanks!
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@juniusfree If you're not comfortable with the idea of choosing a single thing to excel at, consider instead selecting a unique collection of skills that are rare in combination and have some high value areas of application (what i called the "auction market" of skills in SO GOOD THEY CAN'T IGNORE YOU)
Fraz Ahmed Ismat
Fraz Ahmed Ismat@fismat · Medical Director
@juniusfree No such thing as a "generalist". If you cannot identify what you are good at, that may be part of the problem.
Laura Lee
Laura Lee@laura_lee · social scientist
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal. What are your routines to stay informed about what's happening 1) in the world generally 2) in spheres and debates you're interested - broadly speaking, like e.g. technology or debates around issues you're writing about 3) your specific field of research. I am a social scientist and I do need to keep up with these three different streams of information in order to be able to teach and do research. I manage to find time to do deep research&writing, but I can't organize the process of getting informed without getting distracted all the time. Thanks in advance! a great book, btw!
Nicolay Worren
Nicolay Worren@nicolayworren · Nicolay Worren, business school prof.
@laura_lee Same situation for me. What I try to do is to compartmentalize, so that I spend, say, 2-3 days a week on isolated deep work (e.g., writing), 1-2 on teaching, and 1 on externally oriented activities.
Cisum Listen
Cisum Listen@cisum_listen
Who is the best deep worker you know? Why are they the best?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@cisum_listen Read THE RISE OF TEDDY ROOSEVELT. His intensity was legendary.
How can a college student integrate deep work into his life ?
Jacob Lindberg
Jacob Lindberg@jacob_lindberg · Student in Math Stats Finance
@phast123 It is the content of his first three books. I like "Straight A student" the most.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@phast123 Deep work is a super power for college students. I rarely studied past 8 because I could concentrate well. Definitely pursue this is you're a student, it will change your life.
Lynne d Johnson
Lynne d Johnson@lynneluvah · Digital Strategist, LdJ Communications
When you have a family/kids and you're a consultant who can work flexibly around your family and whenever you feel like it, how do you make sure you make time for deep work?
Preet
Preet@preetnation · BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
two quick questions: 1) your favorite blog posts that you've written? 2) Thoughts on Pomodoro?
Chris Lines
Chris Lines@chris_lines · Music Composer
@studyhacksblog With all the careful planning, scheduling and organisation we do in order to make better use of our time, what are some useful practices or mindsets you use to actually buckle down and WORK? Thanks.
Erik van Mechelen
Erik van Mechelen@decision_ · Essayist and fiction writer
@studyhacksblog Adding on to @chris_lines, how do you get in and stay in flow? Are there in-between states in your experience? Can you see yourself losing concentration but adjust your position in your chair and keep going? Cheers Cal. Been following for years.
Erik van Mechelen
Erik van Mechelen@decision_ · Essayist and fiction writer
PS "So Good They Can't Ignore You" was a gem. So thanks for that.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@chris_lines When conducting deep work: (1) have clarity about exactly what you are trying to accomplish and for how long you'll be working on it; (2) have some sort of ritual you do to initiate such depth sessions (signaling your brain it's time to concentrate); (3) get up and move as needed to rest your mind, but do not expose yourself to unrelated work or obligations (e.g., inbox glances)
Jacob Lindberg
Jacob Lindberg@jacob_lindberg · Student in Math Stats Finance
Let us say you have a profession that is not suited for deep work – say a CEO or trader – but you believe in the arguments of this book. What can, and should, be done?
Ken Friedman
Ken Friedman@ken_friedman · Teacher, trungpadharma.com
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal - what are your latest recommendations about how to organize a large long-term research project? You have made several recommendations on your blog in the past. My project involves listening to 2000+ hours of audiotape in order to write a definitive book about the teachings of a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master. Robert Greene, for example, strongly recommends using good old index cards. Also, how to incorprorate such a long-term project into your weekly/daily schedule ? Thank you!
Haowen Chan
Haowen Chan@purpleturtle
You've famously likened activities like social media and web surfing as actively damaging to our ability to focus on deep work. In your webinar you said something like, "Just as a pro athlete would not smoke, a focus-oriented professional would try to avoid social media". What are some examples of other activities that should be considered damaging to our progress in training for focus? What are the specific characteristics of such activities that make them actively harmful?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
Hi everyone! Great questions...I'm going to dive in and start answering...
Smit Shah
Smit Shah@who828 · Flipkart
@studyhacksblog Two questions, 1) How do you manage to deep work when the work requires constant references or look ups on the internet? 2) What are your favourite books on the subject? (aside from yours :))
Kening Zhu
Kening Zhu@kening_zhu · designer
Cal, what are your thoughts on eliminating social media for professionals who might want to use it for marketing their businesses? (For instance, creative entrepreneurs looking to build a following). Thank you!
Michael Eads
Michael Eads@themikeeads · Founder
Hey Cal – what is your take on traditional/mindfulness meditation practices? I ask because your new book has excellent advice about "productive meditation" – and mentions that it is similar in nature to "mindfulness meditation" – but other than that, other types of meditation are not discussed.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@themikeeads Productive meditation is good for increasing the intensity of your ability to concentrate. Mindfulness meditation (which I have practiced off an on) is good for helping to decrease your dependence on distraction. Both are useful. I don't know much about other meditation types, but generally, the more activities you can do that require undistracted attention (whether it be playing a sport or meditating or stamp collecting), the better.
Nicolay Worren
Nicolay Worren@nicolayworren · Nicolay Worren, business school prof.
@studyhacksblog @themikeeads I have enjoyed practicing the Alexander Technique for years, it's simple and really works (should be learned from a teacher initially)
Hawkar Mahmod
Hawkar Mahmod@hrm2014 · Graduate, Hawkar
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, in your new book Deep Work you say, "Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work." This got me thinking because I feel sometimes that this describes me quite well, I recently graduated and felt like I spent most of time at university avoiding deep work, opting for the more shallow approach when working and so my question is to someone like me (I haven't yet completed the book) what would you recommend to reverse the condition of continually working in a shallow way, be that practical steps to take or changing my approach more generally I'd welcome any answers. Thank you.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@hrm2014 You need "Rule #2: Embrace Boredom." At a high-level, there are two types of exercises that can help you rewire your brain. First, you need to start giving yourself many more chances to be bored. That is, instead of having Internet use (phone or computer) be a default activity, make a planned activity -- at work and home -- with everything in between free from that stimuli. Two, you need to start pushing your ability to concentrate. It is important to realize that concentration is something that needs to be trained. In the book, I talk about productive meditation and Teddy Roosevelt days as good exercises for this purpose.
Daniel Greenidge
Daniel Greenidge@daniel_greenidge
[deleted]
Nasrin Ha
Nasrin Ha@nasrin_ha · PhD Student
Hi Cal, I would like to know how you control the flow of the tasks which have to be done during the deep work time, for instance, imagine you set 2 hours for a deep work and then during these hours, something new pop up and you need to read them, learn them,..., and this by itself is a distraction for me, What's your strategy for these such issues?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@nasrin_ha I don't work in a way in which things can pop up. There's certain times in my day set aside to look through inboxes and figure out what to do with things and I leave it then. To be more concrete, once a week I really take the time to make sure everything lurking in my inbox is cleared out. So I'm not always that prompt.
Will Yoo
Will Yoo@willyoo42 · Student, Entrepreneur, Cockroach
@studyhacksblog what deliberate practice challenges are there for writers?
Jerret Turner
Jerret Turner@jerret_turner
@willyoo42 Ha-ha! Same question I had!
Adel Daoud
Adel Daoud@adel_daoud · social science researecher
@studyhacksblog I am a postdoc in the social science. How do you plan deep work (e.g. writing a manuscript) when that work is a function of other collaborators´ plans? That is, deadlines that often randomly changes because others fail to deliver. I guess you have different strategies when dealing with more senior compared to less senior collaborators. I find this function to be one of the biggest hinder to my productivity. Any advice, strategies, or reading is welcomed.
Adel Daoud
Adel Daoud@adel_daoud · social science researecher
@adel_daoud Adding to my question, but in a positive way: have you synchronized your efforts to deep work with other collaborator´s deep work. If yes, how do you go about? Do you feel that that is an additional productivity booster?
Karan Deengar
Karan Deengar@odin_d_dragon
:^)
Jerret Turner
Jerret Turner@jerret_turner
@odin_d_dragon It's probably because the "brain" has left the brain!
Ryan Stephens
Ryan Stephens@ryanstephens
@studyhacksblog Cal - Do you have any recommendations for a Deep Work advocate in an open office environment where e-mail and meetings are two staples of the culture? (Find music distracting and white noise tolerable for a bit, but typically use in-ear earplugs + noise cancelling head phones over. This doesn't really deter the conversations/sound.) For reference, have tried asking nicely, shown manager output/success stories based on 'quiet' days and/or telecommuting, but alas... no avail for quiet work space to support Deep Work.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@ryanstephens You'll love Chapter 2 in my book, in which I take to task these emergent and devastating workplace trends. The environment you describe sounds pretty terrible. You're best option is to train yourself to tolerate white/brown noise (it comes with practice, so stick with it), and be aggressive about protecting time from distraction.
Vishal Sharma
Vishal Sharma@vishal_sharma · Grad student
@studyhacksblog what role does music play in deep work? A help or hindrance to concentration? (ie listening to music while doing deep work)
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@vishal_sharma Music can help you concentrate *if* you've trained yourself to work in its presence. This can take a little while.
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
thanks so much for joining us today Cal. Big fan of yours, my question is; what would you advise someone looking to learn how to code with no prior experience? Where would you start if you had your time again?
Preet
Preet@preetnation · BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@harrystebbings Udemy courses on Swift are pretty effective.
Joanna Rives
Joanna Rives@joanna · teaching myself to program
@harrystebbings I am a novice programmer too. I wish I had started with the Python For Everyone Coursera class by Dr. Charles Severance at U. Mich. and then proceeded to complete Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw going on to CS50x through Edx and Harvard to build the basics. Code Academy has also been very helpful. My goal this year is to build 4 - 5 projects using a different language for each! Good Luck to you!
Richard Huynh
Richard Huynh@huynhrichy
@harrystebbings What goals do you have for learning how to code? If you'd like to dabble, codecademy is a great place to start with free tutorials on many programming languages. If you want to learn to be a full stack web developer, freecodecamp.com offers a completely free year-long curriculum that, at the end, lets you gain experience by contributing to non-profit organizations.
Greg Garcia
Greg Garcia@iamgreggarcia · Computer Science Student
@harrystebbings To add to Preet and Joanna, finding a problem to solve - however trivial it may seem - or completing a small project is a good way to get you up and running. However, I would say the most difficult aspect for beginners, especially at first, is sticking with it.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@harrystebbings If you'll excuse a brief diversion to salesman mode, in the introduction to my new book I tell the story of someone who leverages intense deep work to make exactly this transition (learning to code quickly and therefore jumping from deadens job to SF start-up). To answer more concretely, in today's world I'd start with python. I'd learn by doing. Give yourself an escalating series of concrete projects than work backwards using google and a book to learn enough coding to complete it. Once you're comfortable with something like Python, you're then ready to learn some more serious computer science (algorithms; more serious languages; etc.) Online courses are helpful there...
Dan Thomas
Dan Thomas@dan_fred · Head Honcho, XYZ Corp
@studyhacksblog Am enjoying the book. The comments in the section "What about Jack Dorsey?" were particularly interesting. You seemed to be differentiating between "executive work" which can largely be small chunk decision making and what Drucker would call "Knowledge Work." Isn't it mission critical that executives also do Deep Work, especially when it comes to topics like strategy?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@dan_fred Probably. Bill Gates used Think Weeks for this purpose. I suspect that a high power CEO would probably benefit from a 2 hours a day deep work habit, etc. But I also respect that the lion's share of their value comes from non-deep activities.
Tom Harney
Tom Harney@tom_harney
@studyhacksblog Cal, what you advise your college "self" after creating Deep Work?
Isabel Kaspriskie
Isabel Kaspriskie@isabelk · MIT Undergraduate in Chem. Engineering
Your advice helped me through college admissions and the beginnings of my college career. So first, thanks! My problem, however, is that I feel "wrong" when I have nothing on my to-do list for work/classes. For instance, during winter intersession, I have times when I really do not have anything due or obligations to fulfill. I know I should use this time to recharge and relax, but I spend half of the time I plan to relax worrying that I should be doing something else "productive." Yet I am aware that relaxing in itself can be a productive endeavor, especially when I have the time to do so. I've been working on hobbies and watching Netflix I otherwise do not get the time for. Essentially, my question is: how do I not feel guilty about the time I spend relaxing that I have earned? How do I not feel like I am procrastinating when there is nothing being procrastinated *on*?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@isabelk I suggest non-urgent but ambitious self-directed projects for such periods. Things you can put aside if needed (e.g., no one is waiting on you), but that have big potential and are interesting and hard to pursue. For example, I did a lot of self-directed writing projects in college (concluding with my first book)
Isabel Kaspriskie
Isabel Kaspriskie@isabelk · MIT Undergraduate in Chem. Engineering
Abirami P S
Abirami P S@abiramipkumar · student
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal. Can you share the most important lessons you learned through the years, with your blog and your work, that you would tell a person who is just starting out in life? Some basic ground rules that you think are very important for a productive and deep work life. Big fan. Thanks.
Haowen Chan
Haowen Chan@purpleturtle
@studyhacksblog What are your most recommended ways to spend the recovery time between bursts of deep work? I know my maximum length of sustained high intensity focus is around 20-30 mins (not coincidentally around the length of one pomodoro). My main issue is that between these bursts I find myself recovering inefficiently, often even procrastinating from the next burst. For more detail: I feel I'm in a catch-22: if I completely let go of willpower during the break, I default to mindless web-surfing and low-engagement things, which scatters my focus for the next "set" of work as it clutters my mind with unrelated concepts. If I consciously focus on activities that provide maximum recharge potential (meditation, take a walk, stretch) then my willpower is still being drained during the rest period as I consciously turn the mind's focus to active relaxation, which makes it harder to sustain the next set. What would you recommend?
Kyle P.
Kyle P.@kperry5 · Learner
@studyhacksblog For someone who teaches adults, how can I integrate deep work principles into the classroom? And encourage adults to integrate deep work into their daily work? I've taught high school and college students before and I've found that adults resist new work/study/thought strategies more often.
Erik van Mechelen
Erik van Mechelen@decision_ · Essayist and fiction writer
Thanks for your work on "Deep Work"! http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Work-... ... how much of your own philosophy did you apply in its writing?
Greg Garcia
Greg Garcia@iamgreggarcia · Computer Science Student
Theoretical computer science is an esoteric field of research. How did you become interested in the subject?
Victor
Victor@luweike · Student
What is the role of deep work in our happiness ?
Jerret Turner
Jerret Turner@jerret_turner
@luweike He talks directly to that in the book :)
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, really appreciate your college and career advice! I'm going to medical school in the fall. Do you have any advice on how to apply the zen valedictorian (or deep work) philosophy there?
Jerret Turner
Jerret Turner@jerret_turner
@studyhacksblog What are your tips for becoming a writing craftsman?
David Chun
David Chun@david_chun17
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Ricardo Pretelt
Ricardo Pretelt@ricardopretelt
@studyhacksblog Hi cal, i really like your blog. Mi question is: how to keep in deep work, when you have a boss to respond inmediately?
Rafaello
Rafaello@rafaelloaa
@studyhacksblog Hey Cal. I'm a freshman in engineering school, and I have a physical disabilities that causes me considerable pain. This causes my energy to wax and wane unpredictably. Do you have any suggestions on how to manage my time/study habits to take those into account? For example, I've seen your automatic schedule, but that's a bit hard to utilize in my situation. Many thanks!
Richard Huynh
Richard Huynh@huynhrichy
Hi Cal. What should a (new) software developer work on in terms of skills for career capital? What are some ideas for hard projects or study for deep work?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@huynhrichy Look to computer science curriculums get a sense of "science" side of developing. If you can become an expert in parallel or distributed algorithm theory, or the intricacies of practical distributed system design, or the cutting-edge of machine learning, you'll be quite valuable. Looking at these curricula can give you an idea of what these valuable topics are, learning them, of course, is hard.
Maureen
Maureen@mbbrennan
@studyhacksblog I've read the blog for years & 1/2 way through the book, I'm amazed at your output esp w/ 2 young children. Is discipline a big part of it, too? Also, do you still run or how to you relax, alone, i.e. take mental breaks & what do you do in your mental breaks?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@mbbrennan The secret is deep work! The year I wrote this book my academic output *doubled*, simply because it got me even more serious about my deep work habits. This is an important point I try to make in the book, the lifestyle I'm talking about is not about getting a little more efficient or a little less distracted, it's about achieve massive multiplier improvements on your output. This stuff really works!
Ibrahim Sheikh
Ibrahim Sheikh@ibrahim_sheikh · Senior@Harvard
@studyhacksblog I read in one of your books to start long projects the day they are assigned. The deadline is a powerful motivator and I find some students do their best work right before deadlines. What are some techniques you can use to start work working on a long term project earlier?
Darshan Desai
Darshan Desai@darshan_desai
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal! In your definition of deep work, you include "... push your cognitive capabilities to their limit..". How exactly do you known when an activity is accomplishing that? Also, how exactly could you "design" such an activity? I understand that for students, active recall would be something that pushes cognitive capabilities. Can you give another short example of how it could be applied in the working environment?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@darshan_desai A useful approach is to choose an artifact you want to produce that will require intense focus to complete. For example, for me to say, "think about this proof" is too ambiguous. If I instead say, "write a formal version of the proof to share with a collaborator," I have a specific outcome to pursue that will require deep work to accomplish.
Misha Maksin
Misha Maksin@misha_maksin
@studyhackblog Conditions for Deep Work - clear goals, feedback, pushing beyond comfort zone - are very similar to those of Flow State. I know you are not big fan of Flow, but it got to be related to Deep Work. What are your thoughts?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@misha_maksin I like flow. One of the nice things about deep work is that it can produce a flow state. The only nuance is that it doesn't always create a flow state. That is, if you're learning something new, this requires a state of deliberate practice, which is different in flow in that it's not as pleasant in the shorter (though still satisfying). I should note there is controversy about this (e.g., whether deliberate practice is different than flow).
Darren Henshaw
Darren Henshaw@stats4fun · hsjfd
@studyhacksblog What are your thoughts on caffeine?
Karan Deengar
Karan Deengar@karan_deengar · Student
@stats4fun I do not think caffeine is helpful because you become reliant on it and only provides a temporarily boost. What do you think Cal?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@stats4fun I drink a lot of it.
Darren Henshaw
Darren Henshaw@stats4fun · hsjfd
@studyhacksblog @stats4fun What drink do you most recommend for safe studying
Karan Deengar
Karan Deengar@karan_deengar · Student
@studyhacksblog I study 50 minute blocks with 10 minute breaks. Whats the max incriminate you can do without facing diminishing returns?
How did you train yourself to work while walking? Was there any specific way to practice?
Jason Dexter
Jason Dexter@jason_dexter
@studyhacksblog I have spent the last year and a half (while in my applied Master's program) building skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and some GIS related skills (e.g., relational databases, programming, etc.), and while I find it interesting, it is not something I'm thrilled with. My approach while in my graduate program has been to learn applicable and relevant technological skills that would make me employable after i'm done. Also, I have kind of followed something I believe was in "So Good They Can't Ignore You": Get good at something and the passion will follow (something like that). I'm now at a place where I will be graduating in a few months and I often wonder if I should continue with the geospatial GIS skills or look to something else that speaks more to my heart and interests. At the same time I have invested so much time and energy (and even help teach an Introduction to GIS class at my university) that I feel maybe I should just dive head first and really begin to become so good they can't ignore me (so far i've only scratched the surface with GIS and have only a little bit of real world experience). My Question: Would you advise me to stick with this profession (which is definitely interesting) in hope that passion will follow as I struggle through the difficulty of learning many new skills--while also finding my niche; or, look elsewhere. BTW: The nice thing about GIS is that almost every industry is using it and so it would not be to hard to find work applying GIS to something i'm interested in :-)
Jason Dexter
Jason Dexter@jason_dexter
@jason_dexter How long is this Q & A session? Just wanna make sure Cal gets to my Q :-)
MiguelH
MiguelH@flwy_h · First year student studying Comp Sci
@studyhacksblog Cal, I am excited for your new book about deep work to arrive at my doorstep and cannot wait to read it! My question is: What is your opinion of MOOCS for advancing education and deepening understanding? (ex: coursera, udemy, edx, etc) Deep work can definitely be put into work on online courses and the like and I would like to know your opinion on them and if you have ever taken any online classes.
Richard Huynh
Richard Huynh@huynhrichy
We learned at the pre-order webinar that you are intensely focused on your field of research, choosing not to invest yourself with outside pursuits (other than your blog and writing). What do you suggest for those of us who do pursue depth hobbies--e.g., musical instruments or sports--on the side, in addition to our main professions? Is it safe and/or practical? Would we have enough energy to do these things on our evenings or weekends? I imagine it would take some amount away from our main focus, but can still provide a fulfilling lifestyle even if we aren't #1 in our careers.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@huynhrichy I think hobbies are great and don't necessarily drain energy or attention from your unrelated professional pursuits. In DEEP WORK I cite Arnold Bennet's argument that if you invest in high quality activities outside of work this does not, as commonly believe, leave you less energized for work. The notion that you relaxation requires no activity is a not really true. (Anyway, I get a lot more into that in the book, but you're doing the right thing by filling leisure time with quality leisure. I wish I had hobbies. Right now, in many ways, my kids are my hobbies in that they consume all leisure time I have, but this will change as they age some.)
Preet
Preet@preetnation · BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@studyhacksblog @huynhrichy Personal opinion here, but I think it really just comes down to time allocation for you. We all fundamentally only have 24 hours in the day. If you allocate some of those 15 hours outside of work to hobbies, great! As long it's relaxing and supports the rest of your life.
Karan Deengar
Karan Deengar@odin_d_dragon
:^)
Nasrin Ha
Nasrin Ha@nasrin_ha · PhD Student
You mentioned that you mostly check emails rarely, in the university, we need to answer emails which can be urgent. Please tell us about your email checking habits.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@nasrin_ha In a normal week, I'll clean my inbox on Monday. Otherwise, I try to check and respond to what I can once or twice a day the rest of the weekdays. I don't usually do much (if any) email at night or on weekends. I'm bad at email and people know it...
Misha Maksin
Misha Maksin@misha_maksin
@studyhackblog You mentioned that you wrote Deep Work on top of your 9-5, including early mornings. What is your take on sleep? Is it overrated? What did you need to sacrifice in your life for the book?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@misha_maksin Sleep is important. I always give myself the opportunity to get 7 - 8 hours, though I'm not a great sleeper, so I often squander that opportunity. I did my writing during the 9 - 5 work day (sometimes a little earlier), on weekends, and while traveling.
Karan Deengar
Karan Deengar@odin_d_dragon
:^)
Cisum Listen
Cisum Listen@cisum_listen
What habits/habits related to deep work have you implemented in your life that have provided the best results?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@cisum_listen Deciding in advance what time is available for meetings, as oppose to treating anytime without anything scheduled as open. This really helps the preservation of the long blocks needed for true depth.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
Thank you everyone! I really appreciated the questions, quite thought provoking! If you want to find out more about my book on deep work, I posted an annotated table of contents here: http://calnewport.com/blog/2016/... Thanks again...
Marcin Wozniak
Marcin Wozniak@wozniak_marcin
What can one do to avoid selection bias, i.e. there surely are plenty of people great at inducing deep work in their life, but still unsuccesful?
lilledoe
lilledoe@lilledoe
I have 4 questions I would like to ask but I'm more than happy if you only have time to reply to no. 1. Thanks so much. 1/ I feel guilty whenever my day does not go as planned. Any advice? 2/ Any tips for doing undergraduate research? (My project is on computational fluid dynamics.) 3/ Any tips for acing the GRE analytical writing section? 4/ Is the advice in Deep Work relevant to an undergraduate’s life?
William Belsom
William Belsom@william_belsom · Gynecologist physician
How much of a physician's output can be replaced technologically. Certainly, some but not all surgical maneuvers will be difficult to reproduce. And how well will thus be received by patients ( interacting with a computer)?
Matt Minnis
Matt Minnis@matthewminnis
@studyhacksblog Hey Cal, I'm almost finished with your book and I really enjoy it. On page 167 you mention that you need to identify a 'deep task (something that requires deep work)' and then use that task to work deeply. My question: Is there an easy test you have to find a 'deep task' or how do you know something is a 'deep task?'
HVHF Sciences
HVHF Sciences@mrahman4 · HVHF Sciences
@studyhacksblog How does one STOP mind wandering specially pertaining to dark scenarios and negative thoughts during Deep Work?
In your books you treat high motivation as a given (correct me if I am wrong). What are your thoughts about motivation, how big of a role does it play in success in whatever you do, how to build it, or you just consider it innate?
John Gamble Jr
John Gamble Jr@johngamblejr · Project Manager
My teenage son is often bored and has not developed deep interests. I've read your books recently and have discussed with him the concepts of how to find and pursue interests but his spark has not been lit yet. Do you have any suggestions?
Joanna Rives
Joanna Rives@joanna · teaching myself to program
Is there a point where too much deep work can be counter productive or return so little as to not be worthwhile?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@joanna It's hard to get beyond 4 really intense hours a day. Sometimes I'll do 7 hours or so in a row without in Internet access or distractions, but if I account my time properly, that includes less deeper breaks and some mental downtime to recharge.
William Belsom
William Belsom@william_belsom · Gynecologist physician
Phi Tran
Phi Tran@phi_tran
@studyhacksblog In how to win at college, you say Dont do all of your reading. In the grand scheme of things, you knew that reading all of your text is not possible. Have you had a time where you pursued something with deep work, to only realize in your monthly check in that this project has nothing to do with your actual goals?
David Mansaray
David Mansaray@davidmansaray
@studyhacksblog what are your top tips for developing focus and concentration? Where do most people go wrong? Any recommended books/resources for deeper information on the topic? (apart from your own material, of course)
Ozan Varol
Ozan Varol@ozan_varol
@studyhacksblog What's the best way to take a break from, say a 90-minute session of deep work? I used to "take a break" by glancing at my inbox, but you've convinced me otherwise. How do you take breaks?
Spencer Lanoue
Spencer Lanoue@slanoue · Product Marketer @ Buffer
@studyhacksblog — Hey Cal, thanks for jumping on PH to spend some time with us. I’m on page 181 of Deep Work and have been pondering on this question: Once I've committed to following a rigorous program for stretching my abilities and developing rare and valuable skills, how should I approach the process of choosing which material/skills to focus my deep work sessions on mastering? In the introduction you mention that you build your days around “a core of carefully chosen deep work.” I’d love to hear how you choose what to work deeply on in your own life
Matthew Shettler
Matthew Shettler@shettler · Designer
With so many profitable and interesting things to focus on, and knowing now that becoming an expert in any of them could be equally satisfying, how do you recommend choosing an area of focus?
@studyhacksblog 1. While I know the practice is frowned upon, I keep my email inbox open throughout the day. This is because I am constantly pulling from old emails, and composing new emails. It's hard for me to imagine doing work without the ability to access the inbox. I try to use the David Allen maxim of "mind like water" and not let new emails sway my priorities, and am somewhat successful. Do you have any tips knowledge worker and doing deep work without the tool that is the inbox? 2. Can you comment on goals vs. systems? Specifically, what systems do you have in place to avoid a lack of discipline or will power? Thank you, Dan
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@jdhtwo I have to say, the type of workflow you describe in point 1 has you working at a fraction of your cognitive capacity. If the nature of your work doesn't require original or difficult thinking -- e.g., if it's primarily logistical or administrative -- that's fine. But if you're trying to also produce original, valuable results, separate the two. Pull all the information you need from your inbox. Then go somewhere and work that information and think and produce something good. Then go back to your inbox, etc.
Silvia
Silvia@syprus89
@studyhacksblog I'm a medical resident in another country, trying to become licensed in the USA and go work there as a doctor. This means working long hours at the hospital and trying to use every spare bit of time to concentrate on my big project (moving to the US, with all the examinations and deadlines). Any suggestions on how to manage the workload while maintaining a deep work style? Thanks so much! S
Darren Henshaw
Darren Henshaw@stats4fun · hsjfd
What are your thoughts on caffeine?
Chris Hardy
Chris Hardy@chrishardyatl · CFP
@studyhacksblog Which version of Deep Work: kindle, audible or hardback?
Test Man
Test Man@testonce4all
@studyhacksblog You emphasize the hardness of actually doing the deep work. What is your take on game style approaches to work (proposed by Aaron Dignan for instance
)? Thx
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@testonce4all I think game style approach might help in the scheduling of deep work. I sometimes use a scorecard of deep work hours, for example.
Wayne Talcott
Wayne Talcott@wayne_talcott · Professor
@studyhacksblog so if focus is the new IQ, what are your top three recommendations to achieve the skill of getting focused? I've ordered the book but haven't started it yet.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@wayne_talcott Good question. I think there are three types of things needed to cultivate a deep life: (1) practice your ability to concentrate; (2) aggressively put aside and protect time for undistracted work; and (3) take some sort of actions that signal to yourself that focus is important to you (e.g., quit Facebook)
Jari Vasell
Jari Vasell@jarivasell
@studyhacksblog @wayne_talcott How do you measure progress on ability to concentrate when practising? Any lessons learned?
Jacob Lindberg
Jacob Lindberg@jacob_lindberg · Student in Math Stats Finance
@studyhacksblog @wayne_talcott It's also good to schedule time for doing nothing. It makes you hungry for deep work, and less thirsty for Facebook/YouTube/distractions.
Marc Dostie
Marc Dostie@marc_dos · Software R&D
I've tried several times to select a good computer science book or coursera course or youtube playlist. I always seem to get 1/4 through and see something I think is better, dropping the current material. As a result, for years I've been jumping around in research in discrete math, algorithms, automata, graph theory, and other pursuits. Now I'd like to study big data, machine learning, etc. as well. What's the best way to: 1. select the right course / book 2. stick with it to the end?
Ibrahim Sheikh
Ibrahim Sheikh@ibrahim_sheikh · Senior@Harvard
Does deep work tire your mind? With enough, practice do you think it would be possible for someone to do close to 40 hours of deep work a week?
Marc Dostie
Marc Dostie@marc_dos · Software R&D
Do you have a favorite notetaking app? I've tried paper, but I always lose it. However, other note taking apps (google drive, evernote, dropbox, ...) don't seem to work well all the time. Sometimes I want to write and test code, sometimes I want to be able to draw, etc.
Dan Thomas
Dan Thomas@dan_fred · Head Honcho, XYZ Corp
Is there audio or just text? I cannot find a live feed other than text.
Ara Vartanian
Ara Vartanian@aravartanian · Grad Student
What's your opinion on Pomodoros?
QueenLear
QueenLear@queenleariv · ConnectionAgent-Co-Founder @ButtonPoetry
@studyhacksblog This has been touched on a little so I'm sorry if its redundant. Being a research and productivity oriented person, do you set aside leisure time that is still productive? Meaning do you read fiction novels for inspiration? Who are some of your favorite writers fiction and non-fiction? Thanks for taking the time to engage the community! Fascinating work!
Blake Erickson
Blake Erickson@oblakeerickson · Programmer
@studyhacksblog What is the best way to complete 2 important projects at the same time? How should I split up my deep work sessions? I'm trying to pass a certification exam and I'm also working on another important project. How can I keep making progress on my important project but also pass my certification exam? How are you able to Write books and publish papers, etc?
Paolo Usero
Paolo Usero@paolo · Graduate Student
Hey Cal, You frequently interview "top-performers", and they're featured quite prominently throughout your books - have you ever considered researching those who are just below the 99th percentile and contrasting those performers from the top? the 95-98th? Or to be more granular about top-performers, those who were specifically very low-performing before, who then rose to the top?
Alexander Stevens
Alexander Stevens@alexander_stevens
@studyhacksblog I'm a biologist and do lots of experiments everyday and they're demanding. But doing only experiments do not quarantee success. You need more. So, this is dilemma. Experimental biologists like me are knowledge workers, but their job needs focused experiments (not really doing 'thinking'), yet need more than experiments, such as design of experiments (which is not frequent events), paper reading (sure thing) and so on. How should they balance them when you need to pour all your focus for many hours a day for just experiments?
Joseph Fusco
Joseph Fusco@joseph_fusco · Executive, MBA Lecturer
What insight or advice will we find in your book that perhaps we wouldn't find anywhere else?
Mouss Choco
Mouss Choco@moussa · University
Hi Cal. I am wondering how do you manage your off-work time. I mean, it is an essential part towards having a productive next day, right? Any habits on Saturdays and Sundays, or on evenings?
jordaΩmega
jordaΩmega@jorda0mega · Software Developer
@studyhacksblog You often mention delving into deep work and then having some time to disconnect and recharge your brain. What is your recommendation for people whose 9-5 job doesn't really entail deep work but it is nonetheless mentally demanding? I view deep work as a deliberate effort to increase one's skill and learn new things which doesn't often happen in the work force once you reach proficiency.
Alexander Stevens
Alexander Stevens@alexander_stevens
@studyhacksblog I know that you have kids and they are still young to teach something hard yet. But what is your "deep work" plan for education of your kids in the future? I'm not talking about teaching "about" deep work, but "your part" of deep work for the education of your kids.
restless o
restless o@orestless · CS Student
@studyhacksblog Hi! Im a CS Student from a small European country. Im following your tips and got a 3.8 GPA and good job perspectives. What's extremely bothering me is that I'm having a lot of colleagues who are math/physics majors, who keep telling me how difficult they're lectures are and how easy they find CS subjects and teaching themselves software engineering. Even some math professors keep telling me how much smarter they're math students are. This is really destroying my confidence and motivation to study math. Also they're no electives or minors at my university. What should I do?
Juan Francisco Nebel
Juan Francisco Nebel@juan_francisco_nebel
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal! What's your advice for someone who is in a very dynamic, changing and serendipitous work environment who is having trouble creating time for Deep Work.
Marc Dostie
Marc Dostie@marc_dos · Software R&D
I'd like to hear your approach to becoming masterful in a large codebase, let's say a couple hundred thousand lines or more. Would you start with a top-down approach? Functional decomposition?
Richard Huynh
Richard Huynh@huynhrichy
I read in So Good that it's not the work you do to gain career capital that's fulfilling, but the dream job (offering autonomy, competence, and so forth) you get out of leveraging your accumulated career capital. I originally thought that it WAS the hard work and skill development that was supposed to be satisfying. So is it actually about the job itself instead?
Ibrahim Sheikh
Ibrahim Sheikh@ibrahim_sheikh · Senior@Harvard
I find that for things that I am passionate about, I automatically get so into that I don't have to worry about getting distracted. Considering that, Is deep work only required for things that you should not be doing in the first place because you are not passionate about them?
Corina Graif
Corina Graif@corina · assistant prof
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, thank you for the books and the webinar, and now the AMA session. You said you don't typically work in the evenings. Do you ever work in the morning, before 8:30 am?
Darshan Desai
Darshan Desai@darshan_desai
Hi Cal! I am going to receive Deep Work this Saturday and I am really looking forward to reading it! I am particularly looking forward to reading the "Embrace Boredom" section. I understand that (1) we need "boredom" to recharge the brain after the cognitively demanding deep work and (2) that embracing boredom also helps in slowly building resistance to instant gratification through things like social media and internet. What are we supposed to do during these "boredom" sessions then?
Marc Dostie
Marc Dostie@marc_dos · Software R&D
Do you take nootropics?
Kalp Patel
Kalp Patel@thekalpatron · Clinical Engineer
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, I'm a long time reader of your blog and books. Both are great so thank you very much for them and keep them coming! Background: I graduated last year as a biomedical engineer with hopes for working in the field and becoming "so good they can't ignore you" however my career aspirations changed within a few months after starting work as I didn't enjoy the job and found it hardly rewarding at all which was one of the main reasons I chose that career. I have now resolved to study medicine and feel that is where my interests lie. Sort of going against the your advice in the book as I'm backing out of this field as soon as I get into med school. I have researched my options thoroughly and need to make a decision soon. Medicine as a second degree will hold me back financially and professionally. It's a career suicide for all other routes that are open for me. My Question: I feel there are other exceptions where your advice in "So good they can't ignore you" doesn't apply. I think this is one of them as I decided to go into Biomed Eng a bit quick without thinking of it as a life long career. I wasn't sure what else I wanted to do at the time. I was good at it and enjoyed studying about it. Working as one in my country is a whole different story.
Marc Dostie
Marc Dostie@marc_dos · Software R&D
Do you use the pomodoro technique?
Marc Dostie
Marc Dostie@marc_dos · Software R&D
I need to watch lectures at 2x speed just to stay engaged. Do you recommend this? Is it an attention span issue?
Pakeezah Malik
Pakeezah Malik@pakeezahs
@studyhacksblog How can undergrad students delve into this deep work? How can we apply deep work into other fields?
TY_T
TY_T@ty_t1
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, I was wondering what would you advise your student to study a standardized test (in my case LSAT) in the most effective/efficient way? Thanks!
Jari Vasell
Jari Vasell@jarivasell
When practicing ability to concentrate, how do you measure progress? Any lessons learned?
Steven Yean
Steven Yean@yeansteven
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, I'm a big fan of your blog and have been following it for a couple of years now. How would you go about developing the "mental toughness" and discipline required for deep work? I'm a student, and I've been trying to incorporate strategies from Straight-A and such in my workflow, but I find it difficult to get into the mindset to treat studying as a job. Apologies if this is already covered in your new book - just bought it and haven't read past the few pages, but I am looking forward to learning new strategies related to deep work and (attempt) to use them.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@yeansteven Think of the ability to concentrate hard for long periods of time as being the same thing as being able to run fast for long distances. You shouldn't expect that you can just do it right away. Build up to it and support it. It's a goal not a starting place.
Kyle Eschenroeder
Kyle Eschenroeder@kyle_eschenroeder
@studyhacksblog Are there jobs that don't benefit from deep work? I'm thinking of Paul Graham's essay on manager/maker schedules: http://paulgraham.com/makerssche... What are the benefits you lose when committing to deep work?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@kyle_eschenroeder I have a chapter about this (mentioned above) called "What About Jack Dorsey." There are jobs that don't benefit much from deep work. For example, high level executives, entry-level or administrative positions, sales, certain types of social media professionals. That being said, I also think many more jobs do benefit from depth than we might suspect.
Andrew Ulvestad
Andrew Ulvestad@andrew_ulvestad · postdoc researcher
@studyhacksblog Cal - thought I would see if you ever thought about changing fields. For example, I am considering branching off from x-rays applied to materials science more to materials science in a general sense
Marcin Wozniak
Marcin Wozniak@wozniak_marcin
Have you ever had problems with concentration and general "shallow work addiction"?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@wozniak_marcin Because I value focus so much, I am very worried about distraction addictions. This is why I've never had a social media account and don't web surf. I don't want to temptation. I still have trouble with email, to some extent, which is the next topic of my focus most likely...
Daniel Tse
Daniel Tse@tsetsefly
@studyhacksblog Can you talk about how you have made the various large career / skill-building choices in your life? Ex. how you decided computer science for undergrad, how you chose to go to grad school, pursue an academic career, writing, as well as where to pursue these goals etc?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@tsetsefly I choose computer science as an undergrad because I was a computer geek as a kid. I choose the option of grad school over industry (in particular, a job offer from Microsoft) because I liked the flexibility/autonomy of the lifestyle and wanted to keep writing. I choose academic because when you're in grad school it's presented as the hardest, coolest thing you can do, and, again, I like the autonomy. As for writing, at the beginning of my sophomore year of college I just decided I wanted to be a writer.
Khuyen Bui
Khuyen Bui@khuyenbui · Student
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, 1. Can you share your "productive" meditation routine? How do you measure "progress" in meditation? I'm aware that one of the purpose of meditation is to learn to accept everything as it is, and seeking "result" in meditation seems contradictory to that idea. 2. As a student majoring in CS but has strong interest in writing and community building (I'm more involved with nonprofit work), I am more interested in managing and collaborating with people. These interests are also showing me results and leading me to unexpected places. How would you advise me to focus? Also, have you ever tried bringing deep work into meetings (deep listening, completely focused meeting?)
Marc Dostie
Marc Dostie@marc_dos · Software R&D
Thoughts on "bulletproof coffee"?
Susan Soriano
Susan Soriano@susansoriano
@studyhacksblog Cal, I'm a huge fan of all your books and can't wait to read Deep Work. As a mother, I'm curious to know whether, over the years, whether there been attempts by school systems or universities to adopt any or all of your books to help students constantly especially pulled by the distraction of electronic devices. Thanks.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@susansoriano I think this will be an issue that emerges in education circles. If focus is the new I.Q., then the way we allow kids to live these days ways (constant distraction justified by the vague conclusion that kids these days really love their devices) is really troubling. I recently wrote an article for Time.com (coming out soon) about how to help train your kids to deep work as an act of loving parenting.
Susan Soriano
Susan Soriano@susansoriano
@studyhacksblog @susansoriano Thanks. I'll keep an eye out for that Time.com piece!
Nasrin Ha
Nasrin Ha@nasrin_ha · PhD Student
Cal, I've used your daily planning strategy previously. one of the issues which still is not clear for me is that, why we really need this type of planning while for example, we know that we just have 3 blocks of time and then for sure we can remember what we are going to do in these blocks of time?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@nasrin_ha If you can remember the schedule you don't have to write it down. Just make sure you're not blending things (e.g., have a block of time set aside for "working on problem X," but find yourself also answering e-mails and doing other administrative things during the block.)
Rodrigo Guzman Iturra
Rodrigo Guzman Iturra@rodrigo_guzman_iturra · Master Student ,FH Sudwestfalen
@studyhacksblog Which part of the day (morning, afternoon or at night) will you suggest to as the best to do deep work?.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@rodrigo_guzman_iturra Depends on personality and personal life (e.g., do you have kids, etc.) For lots people, the answer is morning. But for a fair number, it's night.
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, I'm a PhD Candidate. Would you mind giving more details about the Workshop about how to produce academic work at optimum rate you mentioned in your book. You mentioned in your interview to Adam Grant.
Konstantin Stihe
Konstantin Stihe@delamberg · designer, thinker, soldier, spy
Should I try to invest more time in my idea of service, that, I think, could make a difference in our culture: http://delamberg.com//bass ?
João Coelho Garcia
João Coelho Garcia@joao_coelho_garcia
@studyhacksblog It's seems natural to me that challenging work is also anxiety-inducing. How do you avoid fleeing from the anxiety of difficult deep work?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@joao_coelho_garcia I have a chapter in the book about the mental benefits of deep work, and it actually serves, for most people, to greatly reduce the anxiety in their life.
Pakeezah Malik
Pakeezah Malik@pakeezahs
Can you post the links of all your articles posted on other websites on your website? I would love to read those as well.
Test Man
Test Man@testonce4all
@studyhacksblog How do you organize the process of deciding what projects to actually start? Are there any systems or mentors supporting you?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@testonce4all This is hard. My not so satisfying answer is that there's no secret formula beyond being very selective before choosing something to commit to, and being evidence-based in your decision (make sure you have good evidence that it's the right pursuit for what you're trying to accomplish).
Joanna Rives
Joanna Rives@joanna · teaching myself to program
Do you have a reflective practice? If so what questions do you use to guide your practice?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@joanna I go for a run and do 25 pull-ups outside most weekday mornings around 6. I do so with mindfulness (e.g., no active thoughts attention on the present).
MiguelH
MiguelH@flwy_h · First year student studying Comp Sci
@studyhacksblog Cal, I am looking forward to reading your new book on deep work! My question is: What is your opinion on MOOCs (online courses) for the advancement of education and have you taken any online courses yourself?
@studyhacksblog Cal - How do you handle peer pressure in your competitive academic environment? How do you avoid pressure and stress from peers from interfering with your well planned strategies? How do you make yourself believe in your systems?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@hemisuchi I like metrics. If I'm producing papers and I'm getting cited than I have confidence I'm doing something right. That being said, pre-tenure research academia can be really competitive and anxiety-producing.
Richard Huynh
Richard Huynh@huynhrichy
Hey Cal! What types of activities or games do you like to do with your kids? What do your kids themselves like to do? Cheers!
sultan
sultan@soltan0
How does working in a fast paced environment like trading use deep work? @studyhacksblog
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@soltan0 In the financial markets, deep work is often monetized in the construction/understanding of inscrutable derivate contracts. A lot of the top investment bank's bond desks, for example, are basically hiring units of intense of concentration when they set out to recruit.
Sean Bartz
Sean Bartz@sean_bartz
@studyhacksblog How do you use deep work to improve your teaching? How would your habits change if you were at a more teaching-focused school?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@sean_bartz Teaching, I've found, really requires depth. In particular, both lecture prep and lecturing require intense concentration, so I'm sure my courses have both benefitted from and improved my deep work ability.
Connor Long
Connor Long@clong116
How do you decide whether to pursue being the best in your field or creating a new way to do things? I am an electrical engineer... I can study manuals, standards, etc. to excel at my current position. Or I can develop software outside my current job duties which may or may not pan out to put me in a different but perhaps more influential position later on? Should I try to be the best, or develop something unrelated? How would you decide?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@clong116 The strategy I laid out in SO GOOD is that to do something great that's new you have to first have to get great at what already exists. That is, the innovative new ways of doing things often require that you get to the cutting edge first before you can see them.
Tyler Owens
Tyler Owens@bobbyr10 · U.S. Govt
@studyhacksblog Hi, thank you. What is your take on some some of the deeper psychological underpinnings behind the motivation to produce at a deep and consistently high level? For example, you cite Adam Grant as a paragon of elite production in your book. The New York Times Magazine profile of him from March 2013 (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/3...) contributed much of his production to a deep striving and anxiety. He himself was quoted as saying, “For me, in my moments of idleness, I experience the most existential anxiety, so I like that every moment is scheduled, even when it’s having on my calendar that I’m going to watch a television show with my wife. It means my brain is engaged in other things, and it’s not going to be a terrifying evening.” Is there an inherent level of anxiety that one needs to be able to produce at a deep and high level?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@bobbyr10 I think they're two orthogonal issues. Adam uses deep work well to get a lot of academic work done (as described, he has a habit of dropping off the radar for several days at a time for unbroken depth). The fact that he fills every other minute of his schedule with work is a personality trait that I think is somewhat unrelated. That being said, many high achievers (or pseudo-high achievers, like myself) are driven by an intense fear of stasis or mediocrity.
Tyler Owens
Tyler Owens@bobbyr10 · U.S. Govt
@studyhacksblog @bobbyr10 Thank you so much, very interesting. If you are able to take follow-ups, so then is there any downside to cultivating a life of deep focus and elite production? Is there anything (valuable) one gives up? Any downside to being driven by an intense fear of stasis? What about instead opting for a simple life of tending one's garden?
Haowen Chan
Haowen Chan@purpleturtle
@bobbyr10 I don't think Cal is advocating embracing a fear of mediocrity as a primary driver for skills acquisition. I believe the trade off is actually a very simple one - deep work is a skill that takes investment in time and effort to master and in return gives you hugely improved work efficiency in certain knowledge/skill-based tasks. if you put in that investment then if your profession benefits from the efficiency advantages gained - then you'll get a professional benefit. To borrow your example, if one is interested in "a simple life of tending a garden" and they're not interested in becoming an amazing horticulturalist, then the efficiency gain from deep work skills is perhaps less useful and the investment into acquiring these skills is less justifiable. However if they're interested in seeing just how excellent a horticulturalist they could become, then deep work skills will surely be invaluable.
Charles Liang
Charles Liang@charles_liang · Undergraduate student
@studyhacksblog Hi Cal, I'm an undergrad, and I really enjoy learning from your books, and I try to implement the techniques that I learn in your blog as often as possible. Sorry that my question is a bit long! Before finalizing my course schedule for the following semester, I ask past students who have taken that course; but, sometimes, how many hrs/wk outside of class the course took for them is not about the same hours it takes for me. For ex, past students told me that intro to EE takes about 7 hrs/wk, but for me this past semester, it took about closer to 12 hrs/wk. So, my question is how do I make an accurate assessment of how long a course will take? Thanks!
Daven Bhatt
Daven Bhatt@daven_bhatt
@studyhacksblog It seems that the number one advice most bloggers have to would be writers is to have a single topic. How important is it to have a singular focus/topic when starting to write/blog for the first time? Any advice on narrowing down? Im interested in writing yet I struggle to find one specific topic that I can continuously write about.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@daven_bhatt If you're starting a blog, I recommend having a clear point of view on an issue people care about, then go about justifying your point of view and trying to convert people to your cause.
Rodrigo Guzman Iturra
Rodrigo Guzman Iturra@rodrigo_guzman_iturra · Master Student ,FH Sudwestfalen
During a period of mentally intensive work, you will became tired and will fell a little bit sleepy as well. Which strategies or advices could you suggest to overcome this synthoms and continue with the intensive work?
Cisum Listen
Cisum Listen@cisum_listen
@studyhacksblog Other than your books and GTD what books would you recommend for someone to read to learn more about productivity and practices they can implement in their daily lives?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@cisum_listen When it comes to small scale tactical things that help productivity, a lot of the best ideas are online these days.
jibber-jabber
jibber-jabber@jibberjabberpro
@studyhacksblog How is you new book, different or better than your blog?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@jibberjabberpro Part 1 of the book is a detailed argument for why deep work is both rare and valuable. Almost none of these ideas have appeared on my blog. Part 2 is advice for adopting a deep life. Most of this is new too. If you liked my writing on deep work on my blog, you'll really find this book useful.
Pakeezah Malik
Pakeezah Malik@pakeezahs
Also, how do you become better at writing? I mean writing a book in your sophomore year is a big deal. How did you accomplish it?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@pakeezahs Try to get people to pay for your writing. A great, objective source of feedback you can strive for, and in striving, improve.
Misha Maksin
Misha Maksin@misha_maksin
@studyhackblog Do you know how many hours it took you to write Deep Work?
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@misha_maksin The active writing phase for the first draft was about 9 - 10 months. Then again, I've been researching and writing about deep work on my blog for several years before that as well.
Greg Garcia
Greg Garcia@iamgreggarcia · Computer Science Student
What research advice do you have for undergraduates?
David Robinson
David Robinson@daverobinsonrsw
Any thoughts on the Pomodoro approach, Cal. Thanks.
Cal Newport
Cal Newport@studyhacksblog · Study Hacks
@daverobinsonrsw Great training tool to deploy in increasing your ability to concentrate without distraction.
Mouss Choco
Mouss Choco@moussa · University
Another point I was wondering: is the Deep Work philosophy goes outside of your work life, or do you also apply it on your personal life? Thanks!
Preet
Preet@preetnation · BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@studyhacksblog [ignore, accidental repost]
Diana Mendus
Diana Mendus@diana_m · postdoc
how to deep practice soft skills?
jibber-jabber
jibber-jabber@jibberjabberpro
If you consume a lot a caffeine why do you not use supplements(sustained release) instead of coffee?
Greg Garcia
Greg Garcia@iamgreggarcia · Computer Science Student
Do any of your colleagues embrace the deep work lifestyle?
Cisum Listen
Cisum Listen@cisum_listen
top blogs you follow?
jibber-jabber
jibber-jabber@jibberjabberpro
How long will this event be "live"? As in how long will you, Cal Newport stay to answer questions?
Jason Dexter
Jason Dexter@jason_dexter
is this over?
Eman Zidan Ghallab
Eman Zidan Ghallab@eman_zidan_ghallab
HI Cal, I feel bored while i'm reading or writing something. I really wanna change that. I want to feel enthusiastic when i'm reading or writing . What is the best thing to do in my case?
jibber-jabber
jibber-jabber@jibberjabberpro
Are there any study hacks that are not on your blog or in your books?
jibber-jabber
jibber-jabber@jibberjabberpro
Why do you books have different covers in different countries/ editions? Is it a marketing strategy?
Test Man
Test Man@testonce4all
Since your kids use up your leisure time - when do you get all your reading done?
Fahad Al-Rashed
Fahad Al-Rashed@alrashedf · scientist
Hi Cal, You mentioned that read 6 books at a time. Do you use physical books, kindle or audiobooks? And if you hear audiobooks, do you listen to them during the day (before 5pm during your "deep work" time)?
Raul Brito
Raul Brito@raulbrito · Creator, Moonlite Labs
Hi Cal, finished the book in one sitting, and i think it will have a big impact on how i'll approach my work from now on. Thanks! One question: in the book you mention you have an official todo list, and a set of lists to scan on your work shutdown ritual. However, you don't give any details on those type of lists. Are they very specific to you, or explaining your approach in creating them might be useful for us all? Are those lists based on the 4DX framework that you also mention in the book? Thanks.