PBTO53: Deep Work: How to do work that Matters with Cal Newport

Who is on the show:

In this episode we host, Cal Newport. He is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University.

In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age, Newport also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work.

Why is he on the show:

His most recent book, Deep Work, argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the modern workplace and that the ability to concentrate without distraction is becoming increasingly valuable. He previously wrote So Good They Can’t Ignore You, a book which debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice, and three popular books of unconventional advice for students.

What are we talking about:

In this free-wheeling conversation, we talk about:

  • What is deep work? Why is it important to do deep work?
  • Why is Deep work the killer app for the information economy?
  • His own practice of deep work and how it has helped him in his own work..
  • How he doubled his academic output with less hours to work and writing the book simultaneously and yet not take work home.
  • How does one go about learning to do deep work?
    • Conditioning: Tolerate or even bring some amount of boredom in your life.
    • Active training: Productive meditation. Take one professional problem and go for a walk and try to solve the problem.
    • Integrate in your schedule: Put an appointment with yourselves on your calendar to do deep work.
  • His own way of integrating deep work in his schedule.
  • Monk mode mornings for business leaders..
  • The quality of work = What you are working * How you are working on it?
  • How deep work is related to Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of highly effective people?
  • What could potentially derail your practice of deep work?
  • How we have allowed the communication tools to take over the actual work in organisations?
  • How does he learn and stay up-to-date?
  • How can deep work help entrepreneurs in their work…
  • How can entrepreneurs embrace and create a culture of deep work in their organisations?
    • Ratio of Deep work hours vs Non-deep work hours of work
    • No emails after work hours?
  • Who apart from himself has he seen do significant amount of deep work (Adam Grant)
    • How Adam builds his deep work practice
    • Examples of Businesses who are incorporating the principles of deep work in their culture
  • The work that he is most proud of…
  • Things that got left out of the book but he thinks is an important idea to spread..
  • What was the most difficult thing for him while writing this book?
  • What is his next project – the role of technology in our personal life (Digital Minimalism, future of knowledge work)
  • His thoughts on how behaviour altering products will evolve
  • His thoughts on how machines are doing deep work and men are doing more shallow work and what impact will it have in the future of work…
  • What is it that he thinks is so obvious but people miss and hence becomes non-obvious
  • His experience of running a business and what he learnt from it
  • Whats on his reading list
  • One of the books that had a big impact on him:
  • One thing that he can change how he works – Remove Emails from his life..
  • One thing that you can do immediately after you listen to this episode – Take an hour off and work on something important without any distractions.

How can you reach him:

As he indicates in the conversation, he has made it not so easy to reach him. You can find out how you can reach him and read his blog here.


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