Last year I seemed to get caught up in the trend of cutting down on different inputs, reducing distractions and focusing more on fewer tasks. I say “caught up” as it seems to be a trend in the groups I was hangout in that (as ChurchMag Editor Eric Dye described it) “Hustle, but don’t hustle too much.” With that in mind, when I heard about the premise for Cal Newport’s new book “Deep Work”, I agreed with the ideas but thought I didn’t really need to read it. Then after hearing him on a couple of podcasts, I knew I had to read the book.
In this book, Cal lays out what deep work is, why it is valuable and becoming more valuable, and how you can increase the amount of deep work in your life.
What is Deep Work
Deep Work is:
“The ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.”
This is in contrast with “shallow work” which as Cal describes as
“Tasks that almost anyone, with a minimum of training, could accomplish (e-mail replies, logistical planning, tinkering with social media, and so on).”
To put it another way, “Deep Work gets you promoted, shallow work stops you from getting fired. ” Cal points out that Deep work is become more rare as many of our jobs now expect us to be constantly available to respond to email or other messages (yes that includes the beloved slack) and outside of work, we are trained to constantly look for distractions and not have to spend time in our own boredom. This makes Deep Work rarer, at the same time, with greater automation and tools, the real skills that matter are those which require intense concentration on a task.
The Layout of the Book
The book is set out well with two sections on what deep work is and why you should care, then how to implement deep work into your own life. With an introduction and conclusion to the different sections. I actually decided to skip most of the first section as I was already convinced of the value of deep work, but I still read the section on “deep work is meaningful” and learned a lot from that. The section on implementing deep work in your life has lots of great advice for not only implement deep work into your life but also for implementing General habit changes as well. Best of all, Cal suggests different “philosophies” of deep work so you won’t have to become a hermit (unless you want to) and different tricks and activities to boost your ability to work deeply.
The Importance for Church Tech
Although you may not have to worry about getting promoted or fired as a volunteer, it is still important for us to give our best to God just as the tithe was always the first crop, the best. By getting caught up in the squeeze of shallow work, be that at work or at church, we are held back from doing the transformative work.
Deep work gives you the tools to focus on work that makes a difference at your church and help a team you are leading to do the same.
After reading Deep Work I have already implemented a few changes in my own life and noticed a tangible difference. I was already convinced of the case for deep work, but it helped provide me with the tools to better implement it into my own life. Not that I’m great by any means and not that all the changes I’ve made could or would work for you, however I’m sure you’d gain great value from this book too.