How to achieve focused success in a distracted world?- Insights from Deep Work - Being Motivational

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

How to achieve focused success in a distracted world?- Insights from Deep Work

The company of Bill Gates Microsoft and the book series Harry Potter by J.K Rowling are popular throughout the world. Even though there are many other programmers and writers in the world, why the products of only these two people are more famous?

How to achieve focused success in a distracted world?- Insights from Deep Work

Because the technique that Bill Gates used to develop Microsoft and J.K Rowling used to develop the book series of Harry Potter is known as "Deep Work". It is a rare technique used by rare people, who achieve focused success in a distracted world.

Lets understand how to achieve focused success in a distracted world by getting insights from the book "Deep Work" by Cal Newport.

What is Deep Work?

Before diving into the discussion of deep work, there are mainly two kinds of work- Shallow work and Deep work.

Shallow Work

Shallow work is a work along with distractions. Doing office work while talking to your colleges, using the phone during talking, listening to music while working on some projects or studies, and so on are examples of shallow work. Involving in any kind of multitasking is a shallow task.

Shallow work has less productivity and wastes most of your time. Repeatedly scrolling on Instagram and Facebook, checking emails, and replying to the messages, while you are doing some work; fall in the shallow work category.

Even if you continue to work, like this way, for your entire life, there will be no improvement in your work and life.

Deep Work

Unlike shallow work, deep work is done in a distraction-free environment to put whole concentration on your work. When you are in a silent environment free of external disturbances you become you make maximum use of your mind and increase your productivity.

Deep work enhances your intellectual capacity so much that is valuable and hard to replicate. It makes your work unique and powerful.

Examples of deep work;

Albert Einstein was so involved with the work that he couldn’t remember whether he has taken the meals or not.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates celebrates a couple of “think weeks” every year. During this period he lives away from people, the internet, and phones to perform some reading and thinking on new ideas.

Well, you might say that I am still able to perform my work even with these kinds of distractions, Why I need this?

Listen! The sort of work you are doing now in a distracting environment can be easily performed by robots, machines, and automatic software in the future. If you do not possess the skill of deep work then hundreds of other people, at less price than you, are ready for your multitasking work.

With overpopulation and growing unemployment shallow work is going to be automated and you are witness to this fact that most of the work in government and private institutions are moving towards automation.

Also read How to become rich and successful in less time?

Why Shallow work is so Bad?

Understand this through the concept of “Attention Residue”. Suppose you are working on some project or task with full concentration and suddenly your mobile phone rings up some notification and you began to check that notification. When you return to your work then 20-30% of focus remains on your mobile phone and just 70 – 80% of the focus is reclaimed. The percentage of attention that sticks in the mobile phone is your attention residue and to restart your work with 100% concentration you take some time.

Similarly, when you are multitasking, you switch from one task to another task frequently and in the process, most of your time and concentration are lost. This way you are not able to give your 100% to your work.

If you want to be among rare, unique, and valuable people, you have to learn deep work.

As per the author, only 3 types of people could survive and prosper in the upcoming tough economy;

  • Those who have more capital and assets which they could invest in large enterprises.
  • People who can work with the latest technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning.
  • Those who are experts in their fields.

Which number do you think is more suitable and easy for the majority of people? Yes, it is the last one, to be the experts in respective fields.

How a person can become an expert in his field?

It is only possible when he can utilize the maximum of his capabilities, time, and intellect in doing his specific work. When he brings his full attention to his work and understands his work differently. This is possible only with the deep work.

Also read Why are you unsuccessful?

How to do Deep Work?

Cal Newport has mentioned of 4 methods of deep work;

1. Monastic Deep Work- 

With this method, like monks, leave everything, remain isolated to achieve your goal. This method was used by Bill Gates in the 1970s when he remained isolated from the world for 8 consecutive weeks and come up with BASIC programming which then became the base program of billion-dollar company Microsoft.This is indeed very tough but some people go for it intending to achieve something big.

2. Bimodal Deep Work-

 This means to live a normal life with occasional monastic deep work. This method is for those who can’t isolate themselves from the world completely.When J.K Rowling was working on the last book of Harry Potter at her home, she felt distracted by the barking of dogs, the noise of children, and other things. So she followed this bimodal approach, she used to work in a hotel away from these distractions and returned home after completion to live a normal life.You can easily follow this model by working offline for a few hours and then appear as normal.

3. Rhythmic Deep Work-

 The basic idea of this approach is that you develop a habit of rhythmic deep work. Here you have to fix a time or make a daily schedule of deep work. For example, deep work in the morning and shallow work for the rest of the day.

4. Journalistic Deep Work-

 If you have a very busy schedule in life you can follow this approach.Here you work as a journalist, you go into deep work whenever you get some free time no matter how small it is. If you know that during some span of the day you are free, you can switch off your phone and dive into deep work. Here you deep work as per free schedule.

The extreme example of journalistic deep work is an author Peter Shankman when he needs to write a manuscript for a book in less time, he used a very unique idea. He booked a round trip business flight from America to Tokyo so that no one disturbs him. For the continuous 30 hours of the flight, he put all his focus on his work and completed its script.

Although these are four different ways to go for deep work their underlying principle is the same – work without any distractions.


  • Work is of 2 types- Shallow work and Deep work
  • Shallow work is an ordinary work where you work with many distractions. It essentially means multitasking.
  • Deep work is an intellectual piece of work where you put all of your senses towards one work to make it unique and novel. It is a work without any form of distraction.
  • Deep work can be done through 4 approaches- Monastic Deep Work, Bimodal Deep Work, Journalistic Deep Work, and Journalistic Deep Work. All 4 ways follow the principle of distraction-free work.

 Also read One reason is enough to succeed.


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