Thoughts on Deep Work

Deep WorkAs a person who is constantly multi-tasking, I’m worried I’ve broken my brain. Well at least that’s my takeaway after reading Cal Newport’s book Deep Work about the importance of deep, focused work at a time when it’s easier than ever to be in a constant state of distraction.

I’ve been listening to Newport’s podcast for a bit and reading his newsletter that often touches on similar topics, but Deep Work is where he first outlined many of his ideas on focus, distraction, and the huge opportunity for knowledge workers who turn the other direction to get ahead in their lives and careers:

The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive. (Page 14)

The book is structured around the following main ideas:

  1. The Value of Deep Work: Newport posits that deep work is crucial for mastering complicated information and producing better results in less time. This skill is becoming scarcer in our increasingly distracted world but is more valuable in the knowledge economy.
  2. Working Deeply: Newport offers strategies for cultivating a deep work habit. This includes working with greater intensity and creating rituals and routines that foster the ability to concentrate deeply. Key suggestions include minimizing distractions, scheduling deep work blocks, and adopting a work philosophy that accommodates deep work. (More on those philosophies in a bit.)
  3. Enhancing Focus: In the last several sections on the book, Newport outlines several strategies to cultivate deep work. He emphasizes the importance of embracing boredom to train the brain for focus, advises limiting social media to minimize distractions, and recommends reducing shallow tasks through delegation and careful scheduling. Together, these practices aim to create a productive environment where deep, concentrated work prevails, ensuring that valuable, skill-enhancing tasks receive the attention they deserve.

As a person already bought into the idea that deep work is valuable and that meetings and emails are the devil, I got the most value out of the book’s actionable advice and strategies that demonstrate how I can implement deep work principles to improve my productivity, satisfaction, and success. Continue reading “Thoughts on Deep Work”

A Book Apart is shutting down

A Book Apart is shutting down: abookapart.com

An Event Apart closed up shop in 2022 and now their book publishing arm is doing the same. Their short, easy to read books on responsive web design, mobile first UX, and content strategy over a decade ago were foundational texts for me as I was growing as a user experience professional.

Sadly, considering how rarely new posts are showing up A List Apart, I worry it might be next on the chopping block.

Favorites of 2023: Books

Top 5 Book Faves 2023

According to Goodreads, I read 66 books in 2023 with an average length of 375 pages. The shortest book was 4 pages long and the longest was 908 pages. Unlike with my favorite movies list, all but one of the books I read last year was published before 2023 so these are some of my faves regardless of when they actually came out.

Favorite Books I Read in 2023

All science fiction and fantasy in this year’s daves, with four out of the five stories by female writers. In no particular order…

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler (2022)

A little unsatisfied with the main mysteries wrapped up and some details that were left unexplored, but overall really enjoyed this quite a bit. Thought the main character was great as well as the various AIs, and in particular really found the idea of the point-fives conceptually intriguing.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (2020)

Ahhhhh it ended right when all the threads were coming together. I loved this, especially the world building and character development. Gave it five stars despite feeling like it ended half an act early and now I’m even more anxious to start the next book in the series as soon as possible.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (2017)

Great, quick read that I didn’t want to put down. Enjoyable humor and strong premise and character development of the titular Murderbot. I was disappointed at first by the very last couple pages but then I remembered there’s six-plus other books that it leads into and am a lot less critical of how it wrapped up.

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (2014)

My favorite book about a character who used to be a sentient warfighting spaceship. Liked this even more than the first book and generally really jive with Leckie’s science fiction storytelling.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemison (2017)

The final book in Jemison’s Broken Earth trilogy was my favorite of the series. Was a good read in itself but also did a solid job of tying together the storylines from the earlier books without feeling overloaded. Jemison’s writing makes a complex narrative enjoyable and avoids many of the issues that often causes me to bounce off fantasy novels. Continue reading “Favorites of 2023: Books”