I just recently started reading (2020/04/23) the book “Deep Learning” by Cal Newport. I picked it up on my e-reader based on a recommendation while reading a random blog. The entirety of the book centers on the premise that concentrating on a topic for long periods of time without distraction (thinking or working deeply) provides more value to the individual (and potentially to an employer) than working with diffuse attention (working shallowly). The exact definitions used in the book is at follows:
Deep Work: “Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”
Shallow Work: “Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”
The book is geared towards “knowledge workers”, where this kind of argument inherently rings true. If a worker is being paid and valued for working with their mind, it would be expected that it would be preferable for them to work more intensely with their minds.
While I was familiar with nearly all the concepts and arguments presented in the book, it was a fairly enjoyable read for two reasons. First, it’s been a while since I read a self-help book and second I liked the structure. The structure of the book is essentially that of an argument as to why “deep work” is beneficial – which you may or may not agree with – followed by a more practical guide as to what you could/should do to optimize the pursuit of deep work.
In many respects, I believe I followed most of the recommendations before reading the book but there’s always room for improvement. Funny enough, I think the act of reading an entire book on this subject is a little bit of a cruch for people who haven’t thought about this topic before. And I’m certain most people after reading this book won’t act on the recommendations or actively think about the subjects presented.
The only real critic to the book I had was that near the beginning I felt like the opinions were a little more researched and included references to a few studies as backup while towards the end of the book I got the impression that the author simply got lazy and started making suggestions with a sample size of one (himself or one other professor or famous example).