Quality Requires Focus.

Author:Crosson, Stephen T.
Position:Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World - Book review
 
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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, PhD Published by Grand Central Publishing, New York and Boston, 2016, 296 pages; $28.00 hardcover

Worldwide competitive forces are driving Americans in virtually all fields to strive for greater productivity. These pressures assuredly include those in the real estate valuation profession. However, our efforts to become more productive are being thwarted by ever-increasing levels of distraction and lack of concentration. Cal Newport, PhD, has addressed these countervailing forces in his thorough, thought- provoking work, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Newport brings impressive scholarly credentials to the task. He received his masters and doctorate in computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently an assistant professor in computer science at Georgetown University.

One might think that the book's thesis (avoid distraction and focus) is sufficiently straightforward and thus not meriting of an entire book. However, Newport fully develops not only this thesis but also the means for moving from shallow work to deep work. His arguments are enhanced by the recitation of his experiences while simultaneously working on his PhD, writing numerous articles for academic publications, and raising a young family.

The text Deep Work is divided into two parts--Part 1 : The Idea, and Part 2: The Rules. Newport begins by defining deep work as

Professional activities 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. In contrast, he defines shallow work as

Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate. Part 1, The Idea, familiarizes the reader with Newport's "Deep Work Hypothesis," which postulates that "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." (p. 14) In Part 1 you will find chapters addressing how "Deep Work Is Valuable," "Deep Work Is Rare," and "Deep Work Is Meaningful." Newport cites two core competencies needed to thrive in today's economy: (1) the...

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