Study Hacks Blog Posts from December, 2015 - Study Hacks - Cal Newport

Resolve to Live a Deep Life

December 31st, 2015 · 49 comments


A Deep Omission

In preparation for the upcoming release of my new book, I’m doing a lot of interviews about deep work. This process of talking about depth again and again helped me identify a shortcoming in my treatment of this skill here on Study Hacks.

I realized that I spend a lot of time explaining the importance of intense focus and detailing strategies to help you focus better, but I’ve neglected the big picture questions about what it really means to prioritize this skill in your life; e.g.,

  • What are the major changes to your life required by a commitment to deep work?
  • What are the large scale goals you should be striving to achieve using the types of small scale habits and strategies I so often discuss?
  • What, in other words, is the sixty-second summary of what it means to live a deep life?

In this post, I’ll try to answer these questions…

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Final Chance to Learn How I Manage My Work

December 22nd, 2015 · 34 comments

A Brief Reminder

Newport_DeepWork_HC_webA few weeks ago, I announced that on January 3rd, I’ll be hosting a webinar in which I’ll walk through all the details of how I integrate deep work into my professional life, and then answer your questions on the topic.

To gain access to the webinar, you need to pre-order my new book DEEP WORK (readers in the UK  should pre-order here), and then enter your information at this online form.

If you’re one of the 1300 people who have already signed up for this webinar, I want to thank you for supporting my new book and let you know that I look forward to speaking with you on the 3rd.

The purpose of this post, however, is to note that if you’re thinking about pre-ordering the book and signing up for the webinar, then you only have until Christmas Day to do so  — as on the 26th I’m going to begin the process of exporting all the names of people who signed up from the form and into my webinar system, after which, it will be too late.


Deep Habits: The Danger of Pseudo-Depth

December 12th, 2015 · 64 comments


Depth Deception

A difficulty I’ve faced in promoting the practice of deep work is that many people think they engage in this activity regularly (and don’t get much out of it), even though what they’re really doing is far from true depth.

To better understand this possibility, consider the following two hypothetical scenarios:

  • Scenario #1: Alice has to write a difficult client proposal. She decides to work away from her office for the first half of the day. She begins by going for a long walk to clear her head and play around with the different proposal pieces. She ends up at the local library, where she settles into a quiet corner for an hour and tries to write a rough draft. She feels the pitch is still too muddled, so she walks to a nearby coffee shop for more caffeine and works the outline over and over on paper. Finally she hits a configuration she likes and returns to the library to work it into the draft. After another hour she has something special. For the first time that day, she checks her e-mail before heading into the office.
  • Scenario #2: Alice has to write a difficult client proposal. She checks her e-mail, sends off some replies, then drives into work. At the office she closes her door to work on the proposal. She finds it hard going, but sticks with for a couple hours. She only checks her e-mail a few times an hour during this period (much less than normal) and peeks at Facebook to relieve her boredom only once. She does take a break halfway through to gripe about an unrelated manner in the office kitchen with a colleague.

In both scenarios, Alice dedicated a good stretch of time to working on a cognitively demanding task. Many people, new to the concept, would therefore consider both scenarios to describe deep work.

But they would be wrong.

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Tony Schwartz’s Internet Addiction (and Why You Should Care)

December 1st, 2015 · 40 comments


Schwartz’s Important Admission

Last weekend, Tony Schwartz published an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Addicted to Distraction.” It soon topped the list of the paper’s most e-mailed articles.

Schwartz begins the essay with an admission:

“I fell last winter into an intense period of travel while also trying to manage a growing consulting business. In early summer, it suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t managing myself well at all, and I didn’t feel good about it.”

Determined to improve matters, he launched an “irrationally ambitious plan” to simultaneously correct multiple deficiencies in his lifestyle, spanning from excessive alcohol and diet soda consumption, to bad eating habits, to the addictive e-mail checking and web surfing that fragmented his day.

What struck me is what happened next…

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