Episode 46 |

Cultivating Your Concentration with Deep Work with Cal Newport

Cal Newport is the author of Deep Work, and shares how busy professionals can find focus in a world that is full of distractions. With improved concentration, you will be able to complete more important work.

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This Week’s Guest:

Cal Newport is the author of Deep Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You. Deep Work is all about how to work deeply, get in the flow, in the zone, and accomplish more in a day than you would normally accomplish in a week. Cal is an assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University.


With so many distractions around us-from social media, to email, and even co-workers-it can be difficult to focus on productivity and concentrate on our work. Cal Newport shares the steps to moving forward in your business and career without being interrupted, so you can accomplish more, while committing to your most important work.
We Discuss:

  • What Deep Work is, and why it will help your business.
  • Disengaging from distractions such as social media.
  • The tools that will help you to stay productive.
  • Finding help with admin tasks, so you can focus on more important work.

What Makes Deep Work so Valuable

  1. If you can commit to doing deep work, you can really dominate your career.
  2. The ability to learn complicated things fast is very important in the ever-changing 21st century.
  3. The ability to perform deep work well is a skill that must be trained.
  4. There are two different types of training and activities that are required to master this skill.

Disconnecting From Distractions

  1. It’s best not to engage with distractions, such a social media and TV.
  2. If you’re in the business where you have to be on social media, set a routine.
    • Create set times where you will check in, and the rest of the time, disconnect.
  3. Create incredibly clear routines and systems for when you check into social media, and what you do with it when you check it.
  4. Make sure that social check ins don’t happen too often, so that your mind has a sense of “It’s the beginning the day” and “It’s the end of the day”.

Time Tracking Tools

  1. Start scheduling your time and use to-do lists as a planning tool.
  2. Give your hours a job so you have to confront how much time you actually have within the day.
  3. Then, use tools like Freedom to enforce these decisions you make.
  4. If you get social media out of your life, you can train yourself to not use the internet for entertainment.

Buffer, Focus, and Free Days

  1. On buffer days, you do admin work; on focus days, you only work on important tasks; free days are completely disconnected from work, emails, etc.
  2. Often, on a focus day, you’ll have a block somewhere where you have to work with or connect with people from your organization, your boss, etc.
    • The key is to put that block at the end of those days, don’t start your day with it-you don’t want any distractions while you are getting important work done.
  3. If you hire a virtual assistant, you can focus even more on your deep work,because they can handle your admin work.

Links and Resources Mentioned

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
Pomodoro Technique
Social eCommerce
Mike Vardy on The Optimized Geek
Google Calendar
Carolyn Ketchum on The Optimized Geek
Cal Newport

Get Optimized!

  1. Take free days. Having “you” time is important, so schedule days that are completely off the grid and spend time with your family or focus on your hobbies.
  2. Dedicate different devices to particular types of work. For instance, if your iPad is dedicated to entertainment only, don’t have it with you while you’re working.
  3. Set up certain locations that you associate with deep work and focus. It could be a different office, a particular chair, or a completely different building.

Thank you for listening!
As always, thank you for tuning in. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it!

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