HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems

Martin Kleppmann

4.8 on Amazon

241 HN comments

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Jared Diamond Ph.D.

4.5 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

4.6 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Robert C. Martin

4.7 on Amazon

232 HN comments

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

David Allen and Simon & Schuster Audio

4.5 on Amazon

231 HN comments

The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu, Luke Daniels, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

225 HN comments


William Gibson, Robertson Dean, et al.

4.4 on Amazon

218 HN comments

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Hardcover Journal and Elder Wand Pen Set

Insight Editions

4.8 on Amazon

212 HN comments

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Erich Gamma , Richard Helm , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

208 HN comments

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

4.5 on Amazon

193 HN comments

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari, Derek Perkins, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

191 HN comments

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)

Benjamin Graham , Jason Zweig , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

188 HN comments

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

Charles Petzold

4.6 on Amazon

186 HN comments

Seveneves: A Novel

Neal Stephenson, Mary Robinette Kowal, et al.

4.1 on Amazon

184 HN comments

Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

Gayle Laakmann McDowell

4.7 on Amazon

180 HN comments

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Sorted by relevance

ohduranonJuly 9, 2019

Upcoming generations will think of us as the society who was afraid of being bored. The book Deep Work by Cal Newport is a good read on this topic, but I'm sure it isn't the only one. You can find my detailed notes on it here: https://alvaroduran.me/deep-work (any feedback is welcomed!)

sonabinuonOct 31, 2020

Deep work by Cal Newport is a great book to help you get started. He also does occasional coaching classes to help develop this focus. Another online class that contacts in my circle speak of as having been successful for them is habitstrong.com . Check out https://www.habitstrong.com/learning

ryanstormonAug 19, 2019

Great idea. This also sounds a lot like it falls in with the "ritual" concept from Deep Work by Cal Newport.

murraybonJuly 13, 2018

There are a lot of really great suggestions here. I would recommend putting all of them aside and read Deep Work by Cal Newport and then re assess.

peternickyonJune 4, 2017

In no particular order:

- So Good They Can't Ignore You
- Deep Work
- Hackers by Steven Levy (perhaps my favorite book)
- Learning How To Learn
- The Person and the Situation
- The Art of Money Getting
- Make It Stick
- The Algorithm Design Manual
- Moonwalking With Einstein
- Extreme Ownership

mihauonNov 20, 2016

Great article :). Cal Newport has some reaaaallly important ideas. I encourage you to read his book Deep Work in which he explains how to create deep, complex stuff.

tiniuclxonOct 16, 2018

Deep Work (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Work-Focused-Success-Distracte...) concisely sums up many feelings I've had about distractions and how this always connected world affects the way I think. I believe the teachings of this book are especially applicable to knowledge workers.

bnchrchonNov 17, 2016

I can second "Deep Work by Cal Newport" the man gives some great insights and actionable advice on how to consistently get into the zone as a programmer and produce great work.

I've gifted it twice already.

bowedcontainer2onJan 23, 2017

Highly recommend the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. Great read addressing this.

mkeonDec 31, 2019

Deep Work (Cal Newport) and Strengths Finder (Tom Rath) helped me achieve far more practical returns on work / lifestyle design.

I even found Tim’s later books (4-Hour Body, 4-Hour Chef) to be far better.

malicebirdonMar 7, 2020

Cal Newport's Deep Work and So Good They Can't Ignore You shaped my thinking in determining priorities. Finding the resources/time/mgt buy-in to work on those can be a challenge.

bdcsonMar 30, 2019

Cal Newport's Deep Work(0) is a fantastic treatise on exactly this topic, but extendable to many more.

(0) https://hackernewsbooks.com/book/deep-work-rules-for-focused...

akulbeonDec 15, 2016

"So Good They Can't Ignore You" and "Deep Work" both by Cal Newport.

Also, another vote for both Covey's 7 Habits, and "How to Win Friends and Influence People".

skiddingonOct 30, 2018

Those custom notebooks sound cool!

Deep Work reads like a lightweight book but impact of its practices are huge. Glad to see other people who found it useful.

ApocryphononJan 31, 2019

That's probably the worst aspect of Deep Work - it's written as a full-fledged pop psych self-help NYT bestseller, lacking the pithiness and the precision of his blog.

cholanteshonJune 2, 2016

The Talent Code is fantastic! I would add Deep Work by Cal Newton to such a list as well.

hollanderonMar 11, 2021

I have the same problem, and haven't solved it. I have a book tip: Deep Work by Cal Newport. It's about attention and focus. We're distracted too easily by the well known things: email, smartphone, and the many tasks we have to do each day.

Solution: there is no easy solution.

drngddsonDec 28, 2019

Deep Work by Cal Newport was great.

If only I could actually apply its principles at my job in an open office with an IM chat system.

laktekonJuly 12, 2017

I recommend reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. There are some good techniques explained in it.

rhaps0dyonAug 19, 2017

>His work ethic is incredible

>he spends 5 hours a day responding to emails from the public

Since I read Deep Work, I think these phrases contradict each other. You don't do original, interesting work when replying emails.

rchaudonJune 2, 2021

Deep Work's first maybe 3 chapters are all you need. Cal Newport is a master of writing some good blog posts on a topic, and then with padding them with 250 pages of boring drivel, and selling it as a book.

tucazonApr 18, 2017

Great course. I would also add the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. They go hand in hand and overlap a bit but yet I feel they are complementary to each other.

anant90onMay 27, 2018

I recently reviewed the Deep Work book myself here: https://anantja.in/deep-work-c4a1b7232482

The post has a collection of some of my favorite observations and quotes.

Can't recommend the book enough!

quickthrower2onSep 9, 2020

This is a great perspective. I would at a minimum batch up reading emails so one can get some deep work done. Maybe twice a day is ok for reading emails in general. Depending on the situation it could be more or less. Reading Deep Work by Cal Newport can help figure that out.

jcwarkentienonOct 4, 2020

Deep Work was a great book but the summary found linked on HN is SO much better.

The way to do deep work is to not do shallow work ever.

Hire people to do shallow work for you.

If you can't sell the product of your 'deep work' yet, try, say, flipping burgers or Shopify.

Hope this helps.

gk1onNov 22, 2016

Two relevant books I recommend:

Deep Work (an article by the author was recently on HN): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X47ZVXM/

Essentialism: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G1J1D28/

wainsteadonMar 30, 2017

For some data I suggest the following books, if the subject interests you:

"Peak: Secrets From The New Science of Expertise"

"Deep Work"

"A Mind for Numbers"

All are pretty engaging reads!

virjogonDec 22, 2016

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

Ask GaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Give and Take by Adam Grant

Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg

misiti3780onMay 25, 2017

+1 on vacation, also maybe read a book like Deep Work, he has some interesting concepts that might be helpful involving exercise.

beatonJune 11, 2018

Some of this hinges on work environment, not just habits. I was glad to see the reference to Cal Newport's "Deep Work", but it's hard to do deep work when you have three meetings scheduled that afternoon.

edit: I consider Deep Work a must-read for anyone serious about doing hard things.

ohduranonFeb 20, 2019


My personal site, mostly about the books I've read and the lessons I've learnt. So far I've covered books such as Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Skin in the Game, Deep Work, or Through the Language Glass, among others.

Any feedback is very much welcomed! Thank you, guys!

kenttonSep 2, 2016

Deep Work has been one of the most influential books about productivity.


RickSonMay 20, 2017

Central collaborative areas with offshoots of private offices. I've worked in one in the past with a common area and ~4 3 person offices attached, and it was pretty great.

It's a style recommended by the book Deep Work

keleonJan 31, 2016

I have read Cal's Newport new book about Deep Work (http://calnewport.com/books/deep-work/) and have been trying to adapt some of the strategies from it. So far I see positive results (less time spent working, but more done), even though I'm not doing very well.

EDIT: Congrats ;-)

smk_onDec 31, 2020

Seems interesting, similar to the app ColdTurkey. Been looking for something like this since reading Deep Work, will check it out.

ryanmarshonNov 17, 2019

For more information on how you can use this and other techniques to solve hard problems and get more (deep) work done. See Cal Newport's book Deep Work https://www.calnewport.com/books/deep-work/

jefflombardjronMar 12, 2018

For a non-cs book, checkout Deep Work by Cal Newport. It's been a little while since I read, but what struck me most is the mindset to avoid distractions.

ak93onNov 6, 2016

That is really great! I am doing the same thing too. I am reading Bhagvad Gita which stresses on a similar idea and reading Deep Work by Cal Newport! Any books you wanna suggest!?

sidcoolonSep 15, 2018

Deep Work by Cal Newport. Very good read. Next book is going to be Code Complete 2 by Steve McConnell. Followed by Zero to One by Peter Thiel.

yuribroonDec 22, 2017

Cal Newport - Deep Work

While following the advice in the book did push my productivity up, sadly I didn't manage to keep up those habits. But it does appear to work, just need to make the right adjustments to make it easier to follow.


pramodbiligirionDec 23, 2016

Deep Work - Cal Newport (highly recommended)

A Mind for Numbers - Barbara Oakley

The Road to Character - David Brooks

ohduranonJuly 8, 2019

In any case, I still believe that Cal Newport's Deep Work is a good reading for someone who wants practical advice on Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer’s 1993 paper. I wrote a review in detail of Deep Work that you can see here: https://alvaroduran.me/deep-work

gexlaonNov 18, 2020

Tried to read Deep Work, which just seemed like a much simplified rehash of Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Then the replication crisis happened, which may have tagged some of the ideas in Flow as questionable. I don't think I would read anything more from Cal Newport.

sidcoolonJuly 16, 2017

I am reading the book 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck' by Mark Manson. Quite an interesting read. Also have bought Deep Work by Cal Newport.

nynhexonFeb 24, 2018

+1 on Deep Work. This book changed my working habits. I'm also a developer and task switching is nearly impossible.

axiomdata316onNov 13, 2017

Cal Newport wrote the book "Deep Work". David Allen wrote "Getting Things Done". Do you mean David Allen instead of Cal Newport?

jstewartmobileonNov 13, 2017

Nope. I meant Cal Newport. After reading "Deep Work," I gained a new insight into why hametz is forbidden on Passover.

dtawfikonMay 20, 2020

This sounds very similar to Cal Newport’s Deep Work

akulbeonMar 15, 2017

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

2. Deep Work - Cal Newport

3. Personal MBA - Josh Kaufman

mrwnmonmonAug 8, 2020

This was my dream :(

Anyway, I like to mention the book Deep Work, I think it is essential for any science student in our age.

jongoldonFeb 4, 2016

I use Focus[1] in hardcore mode, scheduled from 22:00-12:55 and 13:00-19:00.

I really suggest reading Deep Work by Cal Newport.

For my phone - I deleted all of my social apps (apart from Instagram, Swarm etc) and keep it in another room or in my bag as much as possible.

[1] http://heyfocus.com

akulbeonMay 4, 2020

I struggle with this lack of focus, and overwhelm, as well.

I am reading a book that I'd like to recommend. It's called Deep Work, by Cal Newport.

ciaran-ifelseonNov 13, 2019

- Shoedog by Phil Knight
- Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
- How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
- Deep Work by Cal Newport

marwan-nwhonNov 9, 2020

Thanks, will definitely read it. I also like Deep Work, and The Shallows, but I bet you already know them.

beaconstudiosonDec 3, 2018

Seeing Like a State, James C. Scott

Grit, Angela Duckworth

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, Mary Beard

Deep Work, Cal Newport

juddlyononDec 28, 2019

Essentialism - Greg McKeown

Deep Work - Cal Newport

Value-Based Fees - Alan Weiss

Technology Strategy Patterns - Eben Hewitt

The Road Less Stupid - Keith J Cunningham

The Business of Expertise - David C Baker

Atomic Habits - James Clear

evplvonFeb 4, 2017

Deep Work by Cal Newport.

Eye opening reading for everyone who works in IT, science or any industry that requires long chunks of deep attention.

luisrocaonMar 21, 2018

I listened to Cal Newport's Deep Work a few months ago and am now a regular reader of his blog. He has a wealth of great study tips and articles on staying focused.


mishftwonMay 24, 2020

While I agree with the other comments saying this is a bit clickbaity, this reminded me of Greg McEwon's Essentialism and Cal Newport's Deep Work.

simongrayonOct 18, 2018

I recommend reading The Shallows by Nicholas Carr before reading Deep Work.

kbigdelyshonMar 1, 2021

Deep Work by a Browserless Raspberry Pi.

darkdanteonJan 1, 2017

You can read Cal Newport's books like Deep Work. You can even subscribe to his blog. It helped me a lot to grow my business.

taudeonMar 13, 2017

I read about this in the book, Deep Work. I guess there's a book just about it (that my boss forwarded to me once).

joseph2342onJan 14, 2020

Just in case if you don't know read "Deep Work".

myleonSep 18, 2019

Deep work by Newport expands on the same idea and provides some practical tips also. Highly recommended.

ArslanAtajanovonFeb 3, 2018

"Letters from a Stoic" by Seneca

"The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins

"Deep Work" by Cal Newport

"Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" by Jared Diamond

sunwicked1onJune 27, 2017

I wrote a summary of a Coursera course, which I highly recommend, " Learning How to Learn " and a book " Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World ". You can find the first draft here https://goo.gl/mfNhp1

jborichevskiyonMar 22, 2020

I’ve been establishing my own focus system for the past few months. Loosely based on Deep Work, Pomodoro technique, and a few other writings.


vuyanionJan 9, 2018

I recommend everyone to read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport

atsalolionMay 18, 2021

Check out “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport -- he talks quite a lot about managing your time and energy effectively. I've found his ideas supremely workable and his viewpoint refreshingly sensitive, intelligent and erudite.


DerfNetonSep 4, 2017

How about the audio book of Deep Work by Cal Newport?

pruthvishettyonNov 3, 2017

It's the gist of Deep Work by Cal Newport.

jacobkgonDec 23, 2018

How to Measure Anything - Douglas Hubbard

This book is a treatise against the notion that some important things can’t be measured. Full of information about how to figure what should be measured and then how to measure it. Very thorough and he managed to answer every objection I could come up with throughout.

Deep Work - Cal Newport

Starts with the thesis that a generation of workers have forgotten how to concentrate on mentally challenging tasks. Full of ideas and inspiration for rebuilding your stamina for intense focused thought.

nicodjimenezonMar 28, 2018

I like Cal Newport's Deep Work book. It gave me some extra confidence to blow off social media, email, and Slack, and focus on one thing, without feeling like I must be missing something important.

edmundsautoonApr 12, 2019

I'm guessing he doesn't accept the research on information workers and hours, nor read Deep Work. These kinds of hours will lead to lower overall production and increased errors, if there's any cognition behind what is happening.

brad0onMay 31, 2016

Read Deep Work. It's not a long book.

m2n037onJan 6, 2018

Deep Work by Calvin Newport

8ytecoderonMar 28, 2018

Cal Newport is the author of Deep Work. So at least what he is saying is consistent.

juddlyononJan 5, 2018

Deep Work by Cal Newport

vuyanionNov 29, 2017

Deep Work by Cal Newport

sotojuanonFeb 23, 2017

It's also a waste of time because it's a book. Deep Work, along with many other non-fiction "self help" books HN loves, could just be a couple of long blog posts. As a book it gets repetitive and tiring after the first half.

jaysonelliotonOct 30, 2018

I've printed my own custom notebooks to track my planned vs. actual daily activity in 30 minute blocks, inspired by Deep Work.

This would make an excellent companion to that. The lessons I've learned from that book have been incredibly valuable in helping me work more efficiently and happily. Thanks for building this.

kfrzcodeonApr 4, 2018

"Code Complete 2nd Ed." - McConnell
"DevOps Handbook" - Gene Kim et al
"Deep Work" - Cal Newport
"Tools of Titans" - Tim Ferris
"Bleeding Edge" - Thomas Pynchon

kenttonApr 26, 2017

Deep Work is great! I agree that after reading it the collaboration part is very difficult. Unfortunately the best solution that I've been able to come up with is to work on projects that can be accomplished by myself alone. It's obviously not ideal and dramatically limits the types of fun projects of otherwise take on.

akulbeonDec 14, 2016

Shut off social media.
Kill the noise. (FB, Twitter, Snapchat, HN, $SOCIAL_MEDIA_NETWORK)

Deep focus.

"Deep Work" by Cal Newport. Read it.

vowellessonJan 18, 2016

Slightly OT, but I quite appreciated Deep Work. Been following Newport for many years now. His last two books have been quite interesting.

hdhzyonMay 20, 2017

I agree. Most consumer electronics (phone and tablets) are non developer friendly - you cannot develop anything on them.

I find this quote by Russell Kirchner to be really good:

> They’re trying to get everyone to use iPads and when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things

From https://impossiblehq.com/an-unexpected-ass-kicking/

There is also interesting observation made by Cal Newport in his book Deep Work [1] that teaching kids how to use iPads is counterintuitive as they - consumer products - are designed to be super easy to use and one should rather learn how to master hard things (e.g. programming).

[1]: http://calnewport.com/books/deep-work/

jdmoreiraonNov 20, 2016

I've read Cal Newport's book Deep Work. I've also quit facebook almost 2 years ago and more recently twitter and instagram. I have zero regrets and overall I can say that my life improved a lot, including my professional life.

nickysielickionFeb 5, 2019

In order:

1. The Technological Society - Jacques Ellul

2. The Sickness Unto Death - Kierkegaard

3. Dubliners - James Joyce

4. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World - Cal Newport

beforeolivesonJune 2, 2021

Do you mean Digital Minimalism? Cal Newport is the author of both Deep Work and Digital Minimalism but the latter book is the one that deals with the topic of the article.

arberavdullahuonApr 6, 2020

Did anyone read Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World? If so, do you recommend it?

yellow_postitonJan 31, 2019

Blocking no-meeting times, scheduling times to check slack or email, staying vigilant about declining, shortening, canceling meetings are all techniques to help free up contiguous blocks of time for focused work. Though they shouldn’t have required a book I’ve seen Deep Work and PG’s Makers Schedule post be used to justify ICs making this space.

noufalibrahimonJune 12, 2018

Scheduling every minute of the next day the previous night. I got this idea from Deep Work and it's, I think, the most valuable piece of advice from the book. It helps me structure the day and not feel like it's wasted at the end before I go to bed.

aries1980onMar 26, 2017

I can recommend “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”. It has case-studies with loads of non-tech people, including Carl G. Jung and Charles Dickens. http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Business/Deep-Work-Audiobook/B01...

feralmoanonDec 27, 2017

"Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World" was a standout read this year https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Work-Focused-Success-Distracted-...

bryan11onApr 9, 2018

I'm reading Deep Work by Cal Newport now and am finding it to be quite useful and have valuable perspectives

rasyadionDec 6, 2017

"Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World" by Cal Newport

ggregoireonDec 22, 2016

I'm not a big reader:

- Elon Musk bio

- Deep Work

- Manna

akulbeonFeb 9, 2017

You're not getting old. You're getting older. Welcome to humanity. :)

I am 43 now. The last 10 years of my life have been equal parts challenging and amazing. I have a little girl who is about to turn 5. My teenager is about to turn 18. I've made more "progress" and done more growing and experienced more in the last 10 years, than in all the years before.

Whether or not you have kids, I would do your best to learn how to enjoy each day. But learn. Whatever you do... keep learning.

Contrary to popular thought, you don't have to be young for great things to happen. They happen all around you, all the time.

Also, there's an author by the name of James Altucher and he's written some things about just being a little bit better, a little more improved than the day before. His stuff is good. I'd recommend it. Also, Deep Work by Cal Newport.

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts. I'd be happy to talk more if you ever want to.

sgdreadonJuly 9, 2018

There is another great book written by Cal: Deep Work [1].

Don't follow your passion. Instead, become really good at something. Apply methodical approach to improve your craft skills. Once you got mastery, you might actually like it.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Work-Focused-Success-Distracted/...

edit: formatting

atg_abhishekonFeb 10, 2020

Knuth's approach takes an extreme and of course someone like him can afford a secretary but for those of us that can't, Cal Newport's book Deep Work offers some pretty good suggestions on how to handle the plague of emails while being prolific in the work output that he generates. Key among the is the batching technique which others have mentioned but I'd highly recommend reading Deep Work to get a good balanced view on the subject

veli_jozaonAug 5, 2017

"The Mind Illuminated" by John Yates proved to be exactly what I needed to start practicing meditation.

A lot of us consider our work a craft and spend lifetime perfecting tools. Unfortunately, we neglect the most important tool we have - our mind. It turns out we can improve our focus by consistent practice (and that's only one of many benefits of meditation).

Opening chapters of this book provide a basic model of awareness & focus, which demonstrates that we are rarely in control of our thoughts. I found it fascinating. The rest of book provides a well defined path to train and improve working of mind through introspection.

Although I could find no actual credentials for author (he claims to be neuroscientist), his observations and explanations are so far very consistent and consistent with my own. Also, religion and mysticism are absent from the book, except when referencing traditional practices.

BTW I've also recently read Deep Work. It's a fantastic book and it made me change some habits, but the style turned me off. I did not enjoy cherry-picked anecdotal 'proofs' and persistent convincing.

sadliononMar 29, 2019

I have a similar experience too. I learned about that course after graduating but I apply the course's principles on my personal learning endeavors. I would like to add Cal Newport's Deep Work is also an excellent companion to this book. He ties in concepts from Peak, Grit and many more resources into concrete strategies that can be applied to effectively master cognitively demanding tasks. I wish I learned about those 2 books earlier.

dwcnnnghmonMay 26, 2018

The Cal Newport book on Deep Work that this article is based on has inspired a push for the Eudaimonia Machine [0] (an updated version by Newport himself here [1]). It’s a concept for an office that is designed to promote effective deep and shallow work. It’s a wonderful idea, though discussions on HN about it have pointed out that it’s difficult in startups, especially during high growth: allocating space for deep work (sound proofed rooms for individuals) takes up quite a bit of space that would be otherwise needed for a fast growing employee base.

[0] https://medium.com/@jsmathison/i-cant-stop-dreaming-of-eudai...

[1] http://calnewport.com/blog/2016/10/19/the-opposite-of-the-op...

criddellonDec 19, 2016

I think you're right.

Earlier this year, I read about the book Deep Work in a comment thread on HN. I bought the book and read it pretty quickly (it's an easy read) and it really resonated with me.

The author, Cal Newport wrote a piece a couple of days ago on digital minimalism that I think the author of the vox article should read:


My interpretation is that by compulsively refreshing Twitter (or HN), you're giving away your most valuable assets - time and attention. I'm working on spending my time more wisely and reading Deep Work is already paying off for me.

matchmike1313onFeb 11, 2018

Deep Work by Cal Newport is next up for me!

nnxonFeb 24, 2017

My favorite book on the subject is "Free Play : Improvisation in Life and Art" by Stephen Nachmanovitch.

His description of the necessary fight with the "inner critic" more or less lurking in everyone's mind - and especially in OCD/perfectionists - is really interesting and got to me much more than Flow (haven't read Deep Work tho).

fazkanonAug 3, 2016

elon musk biography,
Getting things done,
daily rituals,

Rich dad poor dad,
Deep work,
40 rules of love

bird by bird,
Smarter, faster better, charles duhig,
One thing : will power,

seven eves(fiction),

I tend to read multiple books at a time...

grzmonMar 28, 2018

Looks like it was a guest piece, which may explain (while not excuse) what you're seeing:

> "Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” (Grand Central)."

As an aside, during the expansion of media online, a lot of traditional media picked up a lot of bloggers. In some cases they were included in sections that distinguished between the traditional staff and the blogs, and were held to different journalistic standards, often on different teams. (Don't read this to mean that there aren't excellent bloggers; indeed there are.) That distinction has fallen away so it's not always obvious. Then again, people often mistake editorials and opinion pieces for news articles when it's right there in the header.

blabla_blubluonDec 19, 2016

Fiction :

* Lolita by Vladmir Nabakov ; an absolute master class.

* The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling ; one for the memories!

Non Fiction :

* Letters of Note by Shawn Usher; a compendium of wonderful letters from the past. Highly recommended. https://www.amazon.com/Letters-Note-Collection-Correspondenc...

* Deep work by Cal Newport ; very applicable to the modern day distracted soul.

troubleonOct 17, 2018

I've had a pretty similar experience. Get exercise, sleep, food and hydration under control, then (in my case) medication helps me make the most of that structure.

I actually just wrote a giant post [1] about what I've learned about managing ADHD so far. It focuses on the core stuff, but I want to follow it up with a breakdown of how books like Deep Work (e.g. Flow; Farsighted; Thinking, Fast and Slow; How Not to be Wrong) have made a difference for me.

[1] https://medium.com/@sashacollecutt/life-with-adhd-a61cae5a5b...

amrrsonSep 4, 2018

1. Born a Crime (audiobook) by Trevor Noah is an entertaining yet thought-provoking listen

2. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (just gives a different perception to success all together, at least did for me)

3. Mastery (Robert Greene) - can be dismissed as Anecdotes but really powerful ones

4. Deep Work (Cal Newport) - a guy who doesn't like to be on social media and I found reading about him and stumbled upon this and it's absolutely an insightful read

5. The subtle art of not giving a fk - This is a short, beautiful and an amazing read even if you aren't looking for self improvement

mariedavidonApr 29, 2021

Deep Work, by Cal Newport : to focus on what matters.
The talent code, by Danie Coyle : to understand the value of deliberate practice.
Brain at work, astonishingly useful mixing practical neuroscience and concrete situations.
Getting things Done : to adopt a good time management system (you can tweak the method).
Good luck !

colmvponApr 10, 2017

I never played WoW because I was afraid of how far I'd fall into an addiction. Having read "Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked," I was rather relieved to read game developers who have said they have willingly abstained from WoW for the same reasons. Even device-makers and tech leaders are cautious about introducing their own devices to their children.

The book, along with others like Hooked, remind me that we have to be very careful about the technology we use on a day to day basis, because it effects our brains in a way we might not want it too. Our brain and willpower is being tested against the skills of thousands of incredibly smart and talented designers, developers, product managers, et al.

Having chosen to abstain from apps like Facebook or social media websites, I don't feel like I lost anything. If anything, I've regained more time and mental space for things like getting deeper in my career. I'm not a luddite, as I am still a big believer in the productivity and information gains via the internet and computers. But our attention is a resource that a lot of companies want. And yet, I only feel like it's more recently that we've begun to question whether the benefits these companies give to us is worth the change in ourselves.

Because of mindfulness, I have recognized the need to distract myself (via Twitter, Reddit, E-mail, Whatsapp) is sometimes a symptom of not wanting to deal with something that is hard or uncomfortable (e.g. paperwork, making a decision, etc.).

Yet we know that become deep at something we care about, we truly do need focused time (Deep Work by Cal Newport is a worthwhile read). So I think it's really in our best interest to only choose apps that provide a lot of benefits with only marginal drawbacks to our mind, and to be very careful about how often we use them.

piyushahujaonNov 5, 2018

If you think this is bad writing (because it doesn't make a productive use of audience time), the article has a piece of advice for you, "Put away your self-help guides, and read a novel instead."

Like a novel, the reading of an article is meant to be an experience. It follows the "show, don't tell" dictum pretty well. The critique of perfectionism hits at you viscerally, instead of being an academic argument. That good writing necessarily requires a more productive use of audience's time (or follows some economics of the form of insights communicated/time spent), is the optimizing/perfectionist thinking that Ms. Schwartz has taken aim at in her content. So the form follows content in a way. The writer feels that in today's self-improvement culture, we do not appreciate something for its own sake. For example, when we read, we think of "what is it saying? Why does it not say it quickly?", rather than imagining possibilities, chewing on the words of a sentence, or relish the turn of phrases, or appreciating the metaphors employed to communicate a feeling.

You do seem to be right in suspecting that you are wrong about the article. Her concluding paragraph, for example, states that the one should be able to enjoy experiences for their sake alone, rather than the sake of self-improvement. "Things don’t need to be of concrete use in order to have value." This is contrary to the assumptions shared by the two self-help books you allude to: The Shallows and Deep Work. These argue for disconneting FOR the sake of having some value in the dimension of self improvement: for being able to improve the quality of your work (Deep Work), or increasing reading comprehension, e.g. (The Shallows).

submetaonMay 3, 2020

Check these books:

- Ultralearning by Scott Young

- Deep Work by Cal Newport

- Atomic Habits by James Clear

- How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler

- Mindfulness Meditation (many books by Jon Kabat-Zinn

„Ultralearning“ has lots of valuable ideas. For instance: Directly attacking the skill you want to learn. If you want to learn Git versioning, practice doing it.

„Deep Work“ convinced me that I need to spend focused and uninterrupted (large) chunks of time doing the things that I want to make progress with.

Learn Mindfulness Meditation to be able to focus, to deal with inner distractions and a wandering mind.

„How to read a book“ showed me that I was only reading for information at best, but mostly for entertainment. And it taught me how to read for understanding. Reading-ability at this level is one of the most under-valued skills today (in a world full of tutorial videos).

And finally: Make a schedule, block out chunks of time, stick to the plan. Track your progress in an app or on paper. Repeatedly doing something will give you tremendous amounts of progress in that area. (see „Atomic Habits“)

t3hprofitonDec 21, 2019

Not specifically about programming, but "Every Tool's a Hammer" by Adam Savage was really good. Tons of good information in here, and it tickles the Mythbusters itch.

Are you looking for books about a programming language? or about methodologies, patters, best practices, etc.

As far as about specific programming languages, personally I think the internet is a far better resource. Books are better for the "Soft"er skills (communication, design, etc)

Here are a few I've enjoyed:

* The Phoenix Project

* Accelerate

* Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

* Rework

Finally, if you've never read "How to win Friends & Influence people", do it now! I'm 34 and for whatever reason put off reading this until last month. I wish I had read that book 10 years ago. I'll definitely be adding it to my re-read list as there is a TON of good advice for building relationships, which is arguably more important than many technical things.

monkmartinezonSep 14, 2017

With the problems I see on the mac forums regarding the new MBP's, I don't think turning off the system is going to be much of an issue.

That said, I understand not wanting to restart in order to get work done. However, I am looking at it with the perspective that I will be able to fully focus on the tasks at hand (ala Deep Work by Cal Newport), in a distraction free environment.

Barrin92onJune 20, 2019

Many people enjoy candy too, doesn't mean it's good for you. Not everyone is a software engineer, but everyone has limited attention.

Slack's chat nature as the OP points out favours instant messaging over batching up replies, which, like many bad habits, appeals to the reward portion of our brain but is genuinely unhelpful in structuring work. There's a reasonable (and increasing amount) of evidence that multitasking and context switching can lower your working IQ by 10 to 15 points. Deep Work by Cal Newport does a good job of going into the detrimental affects that distraction from workflows has on people.

daryllxdonJan 2, 2018

- Mindset by Carol Dweck. Taught me a lot about just grinding/practicing.

- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. It's helping me focus only on the things I really want.

- Deep Work by Cal Newport. I have almost no social media now, and I value uninterrupted time greatly.

- Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Quite sobering honestly. I realize I'm spoiled AF.

- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. I'm more conscientious of my (and my close friends') plans and I try to help them as much as possible. No excuses. Also the military discipline/mindset is really inspiring.

- Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. I haven't finished it but this is what I read before sleeping, I can just flip the page anywhere and I read something cool

wainsteadonJuly 6, 2019

If by "zone" you mean "flow," then yes; here's a relevant quote from Deep Work:

> The connection between deep work and flow should be clear: Deep work is an activity well suited to generate a flow state (the phrases used by Csikszentmihalyi to describe what generates flow include notions of stretching your mind to its limits, concentrating, and losing yourself in an activity—all of which also describe deep work). And as we just learned, flow generates happiness. Combining these two ideas we get a powerful argument from psychology in favor of depth. Decades of research stemming from Csikszentmihalyi’s original ESM experiments validate that the act of going deep orders the consciousness in a way that makes life worthwhile."

Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (p. 85). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

terminalcommandonFeb 24, 2018

I didn't know that Deep Work was a workbook for SGTCIY. In fact, I read Deep Work as a separate book. And I haven't yet read SGTCIY.

If you're interested in improving your productivity by simplifying your work, it is a good book.

But like all self-help books its effect wears off over time.

Keep in mind that Cal Newport is an academic at MIT. He has autonomy, he works in a field he loves etc. For other people his point of view is valuable, but his advice IMHO is not that easy to follow. You may need to improvise and find your own way.

zachruss92onNov 21, 2016

I really enjoyed this article. I initially was introduced to Cal Newport's, Deep Work book. This book is amazing and I recommend anyone to read it. Since then, it's sent me into an almost obsessive time where i'm trying to do more productive and meaningful work. I respect this article and actually am off all social media myself (unless HN counts :) ).

tc7onAug 16, 2018

Contrariwise, I just read and loved Deep Work: it's made me more purposeful about directing my attention, and aware of how my environment and lower desires work against this focus.

The journalistic model of doing deep work does seems different than the others, but he's not recommending it, just pointing out that there are outliers who can train themselves to reach intense focus states quickly and do deep work in short periods of time. Not sure why this would bother you -- if it doesn't apply to you, ignore it!

I felt like there was a ton of value here. Recommended for all!

fernandokokochaonSep 16, 2018

1. "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. Gave me a better perspective on how to tackle my bad habits like endless watching YouTube after work, drinking too much coffee etc.

2. "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" by Joseph Murphy. Sold me on the idea of positive thinking, but generally I found the book crappy.

3. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. The only nover on the list. Definitely a good read.

4. "The Pragmatic Programmer". I fell in love with the idea of "the network" of views and controllers.

5. "The Software Craftsman" by Sandro Mancuso. Great one. Made me recosinder a few (quite a few!) things in my workflow and project.

6. "Deep Work" by Cal Newport. Amazing one. Can't wait for Monday to implement some at work. I even ordered 3 more copies for my team.

skadamatonMay 3, 2018

I highly highly recommend everyone read Deep Work by Cal Newport - http://calnewport.com/books/deep-work/

The key concept Cal talks about that's relevant for this discussion is "attention residue". When you switch from low-stimuli, high-value work that requires deep focus to high-stimuli, shallower work (like meetings), it can take up to 30 minutes to really switch back to focus mode again.

Relevant excerpt on attention residue - https://hackernoon.com/excerpted-from-deep-work-by-cal-newpo...

daniel_iversenonMay 24, 2019

Actually I don’t think that’s the case! I find keeping my workspace relatively beautiful and clean (in my eyes - I’m sure it’s still a little bit messy by some standards) makes me feel better and more productive - and I think there’s science somewhere as well that says that messy work places adds to stress (I think the last place I saw it mentioned was in the book Deep Work, but it’s been known for ages).

rwieruchonMay 26, 2017

Amazing article, thanks for sharing it. I am highly interested in this topic, even though I have no professional connection to it. Thanks for your deep dive into it!

It quickly reminded me of Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Deep Work by Cal Newport. It was no surprised to find these people again in your article. In one article of mine, I have reflected on this topic as well and concluded how important attention (for instance created through deep work) can lead to a satisfied life (because of flow). [0]

Can you recommend further reading material on this topic?

[0] https://www.robinwieruch.de/lessons-learned-deep-work-flow/

imakwanaonJuly 16, 2019

I struggle a lot with learning due to ADHD but I found below heuristics/techniques helpful in overcoming barriers to learning:
1) OKR : Objectives and Key Results - especially hierarchical deconstruction of OKR [1]
2) OODA : Observe-orient-decide-act loop (similar to REPL in Lisp) [2]
3) DSSS : Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing, Stakes - an accelerated learning technique promoted by Tim Ferris' Four-hour Chef book [3]
4) Outlining and Concept Mapping with Workflowy or Org-mode
5) 4DX : Four disciplines of Execution as described in the book Deep Work by Cal Newport

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Measure-What-Matters-Simple-Drives/dp...
[2] https://fs.blog/2018/01/john-boyd-ooda-loop/
[3] https://tim.blog/2012/11/05/the-4-hour-chef-the-first-chapte...

gallerdudeonNov 15, 2017

A lot. I'm in college, so Stats, Japanese, Communication, and History there. But that's just the surface.

I'm also reading a lot of eBooks (mostly nonfiction books: Deep Work, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Models: Attracting Women through Honesty.) I also want to read Wilson's new translation of The Odyssey.

Finally, I just realized I had feelings for a friend of mine when she started dating someone else. I decided that it'd be healthier for both of us if I wished her the best and moved on. We're on good terms, so that's good. So I'm learning a lot about myself and relationships there.

fredrbonApr 20, 2020

I had the exact same issue facing hard problems in my work. I noticed that my main issue was keeping focus. My solution was to introduce on distraction free 90 mins slot of work in the morning (my most productive time) to tackle the hardest problems. No e-mails, no phone and no de-railing to other topics. The results so far have been great. The inspiration came from Deep Work [1] by Cal Newport. The book describes the philosophy behind it.

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X47ZVXM/

lukewritesonMar 10, 2017

Two things have made a huge different in my ability to finish/ship:

1. External Deadlines. I'm a career teacher, mostly self-taught Python/Django developer, and am applying for dev jobs. The school year's over in June, and I want to be able to step into a new jr position in July/August. I'm planning to resign my position this spring, and cannot be out of work. My benefits and salary will stop in September. I'm f'ed if I'm not working by then. The need to ship projects (if only into my portfolio) is high.

2. "Deep Work" for time management. Ideas from Cal Newport's book "Deep Work" have been foundational in my getting more done. It's hard to find the energy to build my side projects/portfolio after wrangling eight year olds all day, so I started getting up at 5 am solely to work on my projects. I make coffee and toast then get to my desk. I close all applications except Atom, Dash, and Firefox; turn on Do Not Disturb; look at my to-do list in my notebook; then get to work. Having 75 un-interrupted minutes before my wife gets up allows me to get a huge amount done, and it's become gratifying to watch the 6 am commits pile up on my github punch card. I've also found that exerting discipline in this facet of my life has had a positive knock-on effect in other areas.

mviponMay 19, 2019

Author here. Yep, "batching" is great advice. I am a big fan of Pomodoros. Also, I usually only check my email twice per day: once time in late morning and once in the late afternoon. Each time I spend roughly one Pomodoro just one email. After implementing this routine, I've found myself far more on top of my mailbox despite spending less time. Kudos to Cal Newport for recommending this in his book Deep Work, which is where I got it from.

_haoonJune 22, 2021

I like Cal Newport's ideas and have read and liked his book Deep Work.

> Neither our economy nor the demands of a live well-lived dictate that everyone should aspire to be sitting alone at a desk in rural Narashino, crafting literature to the light of the rising sun. My growing concern, however, is that such real commitment to thought has become too rare.

With that said generalisations like the one quoted are not substantiated. I don't think real commitment/passion to anything was that popular to begin with if we take the general population. Even historically if we take education levels back then.

In every field there are people that excel, people that go by and people that shouldn't be there. All of these are based on an individual's choice and priority/circumstances. Do I want to be the person that excels and be one of the best in this field or not? Murakami decided he didn't want to be just a writer, but a great one. Whether he succeeded is another matter, but he tried because he could and wanted it. I've read only "South of the Border, West of the Sun" and it was ok, but not really something special (IMHO).

yepguyonMay 19, 2020

I may have overstated my point a bit, because everyone has a different base level of anxiety and tolerance for disorder, and everyone will also go through unavoidable periods of stress. I recommend (re-)reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Getting Things Done, and Deep Work if you haven't already.

I'm afraid my advice is not very original, but beyond a few common principles, getting organized is a very individual kind of thing.

honkycatonDec 4, 2020

> Programmers who don’t code in their spare time for fun will never become as good as those that do.

I live my life by the "4 good hours" rule, inspired by the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. If I can put in 4 good hours of deep work where I am iterating and learning on a skill, I consider the day a success.

This rule is specific to improving at a new skill in flow state. This does not mean I blow off the rest of the day or refuse to answer emails after those 4 hours. I still exercise, answer emails, write documentation, cook dinner, etc. It just means I choose to be kind to myself after I've achieved those 4 good hours.

After you work at a job for a while, things can tend to be come stale and you stop learning. I have a novel approach to this: I find a new job that will actually be challenging. This is actually harder than you think!

In Deep Work, Cal estimates that you have 4 good hours of learning in you a day. Hell: You probably have less. The four hour rule refers to virtuoso violin players[0] who I am willing to admit probably have more talent and dedication than my stoner self.

0: https://www.johndcook.com/blog/2013/02/04/four-hours-of-conc...

TeMPOraLonOct 25, 2016

I started scheduling "every minute of my life" after reading Deep Work, and I must say it works wonders.

> I find scheduling too much kills the pleasure of doing things on a whim as well as feeding a growing angst when you keep on postponing stuff.

I felt that way too, but then I discovered the problem is in the way I understood calendars. I thought they're meant to be used as commitment devices. I don't think that anymore. Instead, I treat my calendar as an optimistic planning tool. I schedule the way I think it would be best to spend my time, then dynamically adjust it as the day goes. Calendar entries are suggestions, defaults, "do this unless you have a better thing to do". This approach - which is pretty much 100% function of my attitude - gives me benefits of scheduling, while leaving me free to ignore the calendar at any time I like, to do something completely on a whim.

vitomdonMay 25, 2017

Some more info: The site is made in Jekyll and the quotes are loaded in the page using Javascript to get the random quote. I like to read and write down quotes, so a lot of quotes came from that source, the other good source is goodreads.

It's a manual process but I make sure that the quote is really good. In the case of stoicism I have a personal collection of maxims from different sources like Meditations (Marcus Aurelius), Letters from a stoic(Seneca) , Enchiridion(Epictetus - my favourite author).

If you go to arandomquote.com/stoic you will get only stoicism quotes, or you can go to arandomquote.com/business to get just business quotes.

Today I will add around 100 quotes from 25 books, like Rework, Deep Work, E-myth, Show your work, Art of War, Meditations, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, Man's Search for Meaning , etc

charlesroperonNov 18, 2016

Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal.

Fundamentally about being agile, adaptable, transparent, collaborative and decentralised. You could say it's about digital transformation but on a military scale. An excellent companion to some other books mentioned here, such as Deep Work (this book is a constructive counterpoint in many ways), Extreme Ownership, and Ego is the Enemy.


kumartanmayonAug 21, 2018

2. Courage to be disliked - Adler’s individual philosophy is explained in a way that could change the way you lead your life. It’s a practice that will take years to change but even minor changes lead to happiness and self fulfilment.

3. Deep Work - Cal Newport is very good at identifying distractions we are surrounded by and reading the habits of most high achievers. Even after 8 months of reading, I am more conscious today than ever.

akulbeonNov 28, 2016

I think the answer is "yes". In other words, both.

I'm only speaking for myself here, when I say the following things... for me, I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to learning.

This happens first and foremost by getting distracted with social media (Facebook, Twitter, HN).

To quote Cal Newport (an author who speaks on this very thing) from his book Deep Work. "To learn hard things quickly you must focus intensely without distraction."*

So let's say you're not aiming to be quick about learning to code, necessarily. It still follows that not being distracted is key.

I think covering both books and video helps you get information from multiple inputs, and covers different learning styles. ANYTHING to get the concepts cemented in your head.

Most of all, do what you can to learn in an environment where you're not bombarded by many things designed to distract you.

I recommend this book. I'm in the process of reading it now, myself. I feel like he's talking directly to me, and that I could have been MUCH more effective in both learning and work, had I discovered this MUCH sooner.

Good luck. I'd be curious to hear how you're making progress on your learning journey.

*Newport, C. (Grand Central, 2016). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World [Kindle version, page 36].
Retrieved from Amazon.com

georgex7onOct 6, 2020

I read Cal Newport's Deep Work (https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Work-Focused-Success-Distracted/...), which explains how to work in a way that maximizes your output. In short, he recommends spending short periods of time hyper-focused on difficult problems with absolutely no distractions.

I applied this way of working to how I approached studying for software engineering and it helped me tremendously. I was able to pick up difficult solutions quite quickly without spending huge amounts of time studying. I've continued to use this way of working over the last couple of years, which has helped me perform well at work + on side projects.

During this time, I had no way to track my deep work hours or what I was getting done in those sessions. This allows you to do just that. You can think of it like Google Analytics for your Deep Work time.

It's in the early stages now, but I'm in the process of adding essential features.

georgex7onOct 6, 2020

Background about this project --

I read Cal Newport's Deep Work (https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Work-Focused-Success-Distracted/...), which explains how to work in a way that maximizes your output. In short, he recommends spending short periods of time hyper-focused on difficult problems with absolutely no distractions.

I applied this way of working to how I approached studying for software engineering and it helped me tremendously. I was able to pick up difficult solutions quite quickly without spending huge amounts of time studying. I've continued to use this way of working over the last couple of years, which has helped me perform well at work + on side projects.

During this time, I had no way to track my deep work hours or what I was getting done in those sessions. This allows you to do just that. You can think of it like Google Analytics for your Deep Work time.

It's in the early stages now, but I'm in the process of adding essential features.

jarrettchonJuly 13, 2018

Didn't read the article yet, but this is the premise behind that book and a lot of the writings on his blog. I highly recommend this book as well as Deep Work if you're a knowledge worker.

One of the bigger points he makes is putting in the hard work and eventually you'll get to a place where that thing develops into your passion and affords you lots of free time, flexibility, autonomy, respect, etc...

skadamatonJuly 13, 2018

I help people get data science jobs for a living (and I'm an otherwise annoying career advice giver to others) and this is the ONLY book I recommend everyone to read. I've read it probably 10 times and it's a quick read, finds a good balance between stories and developing his framework further, but much harder to implement the advice.

But he installs a powerful mental framework for thinking about careers and gives you a new way of looking at the world. You may not see "results" immediately, but it really helps you focus on how to determine what work traits are meaningful for you and the types of career moves you should make to match.

Deep Work is an excellent follow up on the tactics / daily practice, and also a must read for knowledge workers.

svendbtonJan 9, 2019

Here's a list of books I have compiled as a fairly fresh PM (just getting started with the reading). The intention with this list is to built up a good mental tool box to succeed in product management (coming from SW+chip design).


  - Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love

- The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

- Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value

- What Customers Want: Using Outcome-Driven Innovation to Create Breakthrough Products and Service

- Strategize: Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age


  - Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers

- Brand Identity Breakthrough: How to Craft Your Company's Unique Story to Make Your Products Irresistible


  - Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

- The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition

Organization / Business

  - Originals: How Non-conformists Change the World

- Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company

- Lovability: How to Build a Business That People Love and Be Happy Doing It

- The Thank You Economy


  - Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

- TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
- How To Win Friends and Influence People

- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

- Thinking in Systems: A Primer

- Thinking, Fast and Slow

Also, blogs:

  - Rich Mironov's Product Bytes
- Aha! Blog
- Inside Intercom
- Mind the Product
- PMHQ blog
- Silicon Valley Product Group
- The Accidental Product Manager
- The Product Bistro
- The Product Guy
- The Secret Product Manager Handbook

Edit: Formatting

j45onJan 12, 2019

I have experienced a handful. Of book sheet together have given me some peace and focus. Hopefully some of these might be interesting.

How to organize things is as important as balancing why the things are important.

The core book to start with is Getting Things Done by David Allen. It gets momentum going and allowed me to look up and around.

These books that have helpful to connect the productivity to trusting we're doing the right things in terms of meaning and purpose.

Set the stage:

Book 1: Mindset by Carol Dweck (are you really open to possibilities and not a fixed mindset?)

Book 2: The Power of Habit (how do you build small new skills, since are only a sum of our habits, and those habits can change)

Getting prioritized:

Book 3: Focal Point by Bryan Tracy (find and set the priorities in all areas of life)

Getting and staying organized and focused:

Book 4: Getting Things Done by David Allen (the how to get it done and stay organized and keep it all out of your head, biggest productivity book of the last 20 years)

Book 5: Deep Work by Cal Newport (regain the power of focus to get twice as kuch done.. With the same effort and no distractions)

Book 6: So good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport (now that you're going, how do you really make an impact in what you're putting your time into)

Book 7: The Miracle Morning. I'm a night owl. This book convinced me that the late night is the same thing as the super early morning, except I'm rates and have way more energy.

The order may vary for others, in hindsight I'd read them in this order, but starting with Getting Things done and working through the rest as you like is realistic too.

Happy to learn about any books you'd like to share.

npsimonsonNov 23, 2020

This was my number one motivation for reading "How to Read a Book" (an HN recommendation, I might add). I can plow through texts without even trying (no effort to increase speed), but what's the point if I don't retain anything?

I haven't read Newport's "Deep Work" yet, but I suspect the themes are what I'm aiming for; I like to be a jack of many trades, but mastery of a few (or even serial mastery) is my ultimate goal.

phillipamannonApr 20, 2016

This article speaks to me and what I've been preaching to others for a while now. I got high speed internet in 1999. I was 13 years old. I am now 29 on the cusp of 30 and I think that this experiment has been detrimental to me rather than beneficial. I am currently in the process of doing what Fry talks about. While I can not be absolute and still want to visit some sites and some communities, I am trying to treat each website as if it were a magazine subscription or something I have to buy and own.

I like to live a minimalist lifestyle at home and prefer owning as few things as possible. I know many others feel this way too. However, with the internet and computing, ownership is abstract. I become overwhelmed and anxious under the deluge of files, apps, notifications, settings, and upkeep required for it all. I know I am not alone in this. Below is a quotation I loved from Deep Work by Cal Newport:

"These services aren’t necessarily, as advertised, the lifeblood of our modern connected world. They’re just products, developed by private companies, funded lavishly, marketed carefully, and designed ultimately to capture then sell your personal information and attention to advertisers. They can be fun, but in the scheme of your life and what you want to accomplish, they’re a lightweight whimsy, one unimportant distraction among many threatening to derail you from something deeper. Or maybe social media tools are at the core of your existence. You won’t know either way until you sample life without them."

Newport, Cal (2016-01-05). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (p. 209). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

vowellessonDec 28, 2019

* Elements of Statistical Learning - Hastie, Tibshisrani

* (Lot's of machine learning books to list: PRML, All of Stats, Deep Learning, etc.)

* Active Portfolio Management - Kahn, Grinold

* Thinking, fast and slow - Kahneman

* Protein Power (the Eades') / Why we get fat (Taubes)

* Why we sleep (Walker)

* Deep Work / So Good They Can't Ignore You (Newport)

* Flowers for Algernon (Keyes)

* Getting to Yes (Fisher)

anu7dfonJan 31, 2019

After buying two of Cal Newport's book, with an honest attempt to read it fully, I decided to never ever buy another one of his "creations". His books can be compressed to 2 pages without ANY loss of information. So much so, that I am left wondering, is this the quality of the work that comes out of Deep Work and such.

jawnsonFeb 24, 2018

One step is to acknowledge that you're not supposed to be good at task switching. It takes a negative toll on everybody. Our brains just aren't very good at it. Because of this, your employer, if you have one, should take steps to minimize the amount of task switching required, or at least try to give you blocks of time you can dedicate to focused tasks.

That said, task switching is a practical reality, so coping strategies are important, too.

For help with that, check out Cal Newport's "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World" (https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Work-Focused-Success-Distracted/...). Full disclosure: He and I share a literary agent.

jplahnonOct 8, 2016

I've become a Cal Newport fan and I'd recommend you read at least some of his blog (http://calnewport.com/blog/) or his book (Deep Work) since he'll be able to explain things much better than I can.

In knowledge work, it's important (for most people) to get into deep focus to solve hard problems. Anecdotally I've seen huge gains by setting aside an 1:30 in the morning to WFH completely disconnected and then another 1:30 in the afternoon to hide away from my open work area. It's incorrect to claim that development of soft skills is at odds with the ability to get into a state of deep work with offices and / or working from home.

As for your question about being hard to focus on some work, yes it definitely is. I'd recommend you look into attention residue. In addition, I'm afraid your perception of your own possible output is probably much less than what you're actually capable of because you've learned to live with constant distraction. If you can't go more than an hour without checking email/texts/talking to coworkers/being interrupted, I'd argue that (as a knowledge worker), you're operating well below your capabilities.

larrywrightonFeb 22, 2019

Than you for this explanation - it helped me understand why I tend to enjoy and get more out of books of this nature. I've liked Gladwell's books, at least the ones I've read. Deep Work by Cal Newport is another book that is frequently characterized as being "an article unnecessarily expanded into a book by padding it out with redundant examples", but I really loved that book as well. Done properly, the repeated examples and stories help reinforce the idea and provide different contexts and viewpoints of the same core concept.

Thanks to you, I'll no longer feel nerd guilt for thinking highly of books like this :)

viridianonNov 5, 2018

Ironically I think Ms. Schwartz could stand to improve her writing, and be more productive with her audience's time. I gave up 7 long paragraphs in, after realizing that:

a) no real counterclaim had been made yet, and
b) I was only 1/4 of the way through this article

Her concluding paragraph is that you should do non-productive tasks sometimes, disconnect, and enjoy yourself. The great irony in this is that I recall being given the same advice in the last couple of self help books I read, Deep Work and The Shallows.

This article seems to be a mountain of words to broad brush a genre, but then I could be wrong, as I only read a quarter of it.

alawrenceonDec 22, 2016

The War of Art - Steven Pressfield (unsure how I felt about this one, but it's short so worth a read)

Deep Work - Cal Newport (recommended)

Stumbling on Happiness - Daniel Gilbert (recommended)

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals - Heidi Grant-Halvorson (lots of great stuff in here, highly recommended)

The Autobiography of Malcolm X - Alex Haley (I really like biographies and Malcolm X was a pretty interesting person. recommended)

Making It in Real Estate: Starting Out as a Developer - John McNellis (meh)

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline (I'm not big on sci-fi, so this book surprised me with how good it was. recommended)

Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl (I'm not sure how much I got out of it, but worth it just for learning about Frankl's unique experiences and perspectives. recommended)

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (meh)

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture - David Kushner (One of those books that makes you want to lock yourself in a room and program for hours. Carmack's dedication and intellect is especially awe-inspiring. recommended)

rektideonMay 18, 2021

Slack destroying American companies is one of the core points of discussion in Ezra Klein's interview with Cal Newport, nominally about his new book "A World Without Email"[1][2]. Great conversation. We feel weirdly run aground at this minima, to me.

I think there's still an unresolved but asked question about how we got stuck here. I forget who observed, but worth noting that the workers themselves tend to demand the popular, already mainstream product, which entrenches tools like Slack.

But I think there's a general lack of willingness & interest in catering to more alpha geeks, in trying to enable humans, in giving them means to tool themselves up. Industrial software is, almost universally, highly massified in nature.

Worth noting that Ezra's already a fan of Cal's work. From 2017[3], discussing Cal's book "Deep Work",

> I was asked recently to name a book that changed my life. The book I chose was Cal Newport’s “Deep Work,” and for the most literal of reasons: It’s changed how I lived my life. Particularly, it’s led me to stop scheduling morning meetings, and to preserve that time for more sustained, creative work.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/05/podcasts/ezra-klein-podca...

[2] https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2021/03/15/one-step-closer-t...

[3] https://www.vox.com/2017/4/21/15382282/cal-newport-taking-li...

blabla_blubluonDec 22, 2016

Currently Reading : Goldfinch!

Best Book I read this year : Deep Work by Cal Newport and One World Education by Sal Khan.

Best fiction : Laughter in the Dark by Nabokov.

## Deep Work by Cal Newport

## The life changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo

## So good they can’t ignore you by Cal Newport

## Serious men by Manu Joseph

## Strangers on a train

## One world education by Sal Khan (Highly recommend it)

There are several wonderful takeaways from the book which I will try to list :

- The current model of education is broken. The Prussian system was designed to isolate workers from thinkers and factory laborers from office bearers. In an era where we need lots of original and creative minds to solve problems, it just doesn’t work.

- Conventional education system leads to a lot of gaps in learning, which are not addressed. For example, in spite of scoring 90% in math, you might have missed out on a key concept which will come back to haunt you later on.

- The system of homework is broken. It prioritizes quantity over quality and is meaningless.

- The testing system is just a snapshot of the student’s learning and does not says nothing about a student’s potential to learn a subject.

Sal goes on to propose a futuristic schooling system where students would use Khan Academy or an equivalent medium to progress at their own pace and use their classrooms for pursuing creative activities and enhancing his/her learning. Another interesting idea which he proposes is to dismantle age-wise segregation and group them based on the levels they are at in terms of progress made.

I think Sal Khan is a fantastic role model for kids and adults alike. A former hedge fund analyst turned educator is shaking up the fundamentals of our education system and tackling problems which are deeply rooted and slowly turning political as well. Here’s to a bright Sal-led future for education!

Overall, I would give the book 4.5/5. Visionary. Excellent. Ambitious!

## The Invisible Hand

## Disgraced by Ayad Akthar

## Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

## Laugher in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov

ZantaonMay 11, 2018

I recently read and enjoyed the essay version. Would you recommend the book? Specifically, did you feel that the amount of depth in the book necessitated that format as opposed to an essay?

I'm frequently disappointed by really good ideas that could be presented in a dozen pages being stretched to occupy 200 (e.g. Deep Work)

paraschopraonJan 2, 2017

2016 was the year I ended up reading most books that I have ever read in any year of my life so far! These are the ones I liked the most:

1. The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch. It makes a bold claim that we will always be at the beginning of the infinite progress that lies ahead. History has proven again and again that whenever people said all progress has been made, so much more progress unfolds. I liked this book so much that we gifted this book at my startup to the entire team of 170 people!

2. The Innovator's Solution by Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor. This is a sequel to the popular Innovator's Dilemma book. I like the sequel much better because it tries to give solutions to the dilemma. The book packs tons of counter intuitive insights. Highly recommended.

3. The Big Picture by Sean Carrol. The best cosmology book I have read in a long while

4. First break all the rules. If you are a first time manager, I highly recommend reading this book.

5. Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book changed my working habits and life. I was constantly distracted before, and now I am able to focus a ton.

6. Feeling Good. This classic is again a must read. Even if you are not depressed, it will help build your mental immunity against future depression.

7. Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark. A very interesting book that makes the claim that our universe is actually just mathematics. No physical reality exists because physics and mathematics are interchangeable.

There were many other interesting books I read (I read a total of 60 books in 2016!) For those who are interested, here's my entire list of books that I read in 2016: http://shelfjoy.com/paraschopra/books-ive-read-in-2016

gk1onDec 22, 2016

I've read 13, which is half my goal of 24, but it's still more than the year prior so I'm satisfied. The three that stand out to me (recency bias in full effect):

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky - I went back to Dostoevsky because I needed a break from business books... Something to distract me from work in the evenings. Dostoevsky's overly descriptive narrative does a great job of transporting my mind to 19th-century Russia and far, far from my work and other present-day concerns.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and Deep Work by Cal Newport - Pairing them together because they both reminded me the same important lessons: 1) Do fewer things and do them better, 2) Being overly busy is not a sign of success.

vegancaponJune 22, 2021

I'm very similar, or was. I was diagnosed with ADHD aged 30. If I'm working on something I enjoy or find interesting, I'm all in on it, obsessed. If I find it slightly dull or tedious, I'll have to fight with myself to get it done, just turns into relentless scrolling through hacker news, or get distracted with other things.

The trick, I've found, is to either find ways to enjoy what you're working on if you don't enjoy it. For example, gamifying it or finding some other challenge in it. Or try to insist on specialising on what you do enjoy working on more.

Read the following as well (if, of course you haven't already):
- Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey

Oh, and don't beat yourself up for not feeling 100% productive or enthusiastic all the time. Most of this expectation is a tech culture thing and it's just silly. Most jobs don't expect this, most jobs people assume you're sat around talking and eating biscuits several hours a day. Our brains aren't designed to work in well defined, lengthy chunks of time, it's absurd we expect that.

As a few others haven't mentioned as well, it's worth getting screened for ADHD if you haven't already, the meds can really really help. They were a revelation for me anyway.

ryanmarshonApr 21, 2019

This is why I recommend every developer read Deep Work by Cal Newport and Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.

Deep Work in particular made a bigger impact on my programming than any thing else in ~25 years, including languages frameworks and tools.

What I’m saying is, good sleep and the principles from Deep Work made more of an impact on my productivity than switching from Java Spring, to Ruby on Rails, or to functional JS and Serverless. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

nooblyonNov 18, 2020

The author of this article wrote Deep Work, which stresses the importance of, well, deep work over more shallow tasks like responding to emails (it is stressed that shallow is not intended to be a deragatory term).

I've seen his opposition to GTD expressed before and was excited to see it in long form, but left a bit disappointed when it was essentially just recommending a kanban style approache and some limitations on interuprting another person. I understand it is an open question though.

Though I do empathize with the addictiveness of productivity systems. As mentioned, it disguises itself as a form of productivity and can be easy to get carried away.

I think ultimately it comes down to how one implements their GTD system; I use it to offload stuff I don't want to worry about remembering (including outlines for projects), and am careful to limit my view to only what's currently on my plate. This allows me more time for 'deep work', but this work however is extremely unstructured, and I've come to learn that's a feature and breaking it down into a GTD style checklist is not at all effective for me. I think that's why it may be hard to come up with an equivalent system for deep work; it just doesn't lend itself as well to a GTD style approach, so perhaps my criticisms above were misguided.

kpabijanskasonJan 2, 2017

Came here to mention Deep Work by Cal Newport specifically, and glad someone else already has. If anything it should be a required reading for everyone in the current society imho. While it does not explain anything ground breaking that has not been written before, it does give a perspective as to how much the digital world and our addiction to it distract our lives. Many people are guilty of this without ever realising it.

muzanionNov 11, 2017

> 33 Strategies of War
> 48 Laws of Power

I keep going back to it because it applies in almost every conflict in life, from competitors to personal relationships to office politics. It's also very entertainingly written.

> The Checklist Manifesto

I know it cover to cover but someone impressive always keeps recommending it and I go back for a reread. Alas, it isn't very practical for a software engineer, where you face different situations daily. I really wish it was because I want it to work.

> Never Split the Difference

Negotiation is a very emotional thing. Most of the time it's simply negotiating with kids or the spouse. This book is completely amazing for it, but a lot of techniques feel unnatural. I brush up to find techniques I was using wrong or simply to remind myself to focus on empathy.

> Deep Work
> Mastery
> Peak Performance
> The Art of Learning
> The Power of Habit

My go to motivational books.

whalesaladonAug 29, 2019

There is a podcast episode that touches on this concept under a totally different lens that might be meaningful: https://www.npr.org/2019/08/26/754336716/you-2-0-deep-work

It’s a discussion with the author of a book called Deep Work, that intends to help the reader learn how to focus deeply on challenging problems, and avoid distraction.

The EXACT same shit that plagues knowledge workers working on deep issues also plagues the rest of the planet: cognitive overload and distractions. It’s way bigger than deep work.

We are all walking around with the equivalent of a dog shock collar in our pockets, on our wrists, and on our desks: anyone can steal our attention in the blink of an eye. Email. Text. Tinder notification. Instagram like. A lot of people cannot detach from these signals, and it consumes their ability to think and focus.

Why do we allow this, as a society and culture?

aaachillessonFeb 24, 2017

I agree that many books could be distilled into small fractions of their total length. I also agree that these books are sometimes repetitive and tiring. That said, I think it's often still sensible to write (and read) such books.

I read Deep Work and didn't find anything Newport says in the book to be that profound, counterintuitive, eye-opening, etc. But it's a good book and I'm glad I read it because it's, idk, 2-300 pages of ideas, however mundane, that are simultaneously good to think about and easy to accidentally ignore. As a direct result to reading Deep Work, I made a few small changes that have had a positive impact on my life since. Now, did I _learn_ anything new from Deep Work? I don't think so, but it helped me focus on things that I think I already knew.

Books aren't all about information content.

rpedenonSep 14, 2016

If you can, try reading The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. It's not perfect, but it will get you thinking about how and why your attention span got to be the way it is. It will also give you hope, because you'll realize that it's totally within your power to change it (and rather quickly, too).

Your message started with "What wouldn't I give to have such attention span!", and it turns out that you don't need to give all that much. Getting started is difficult, though.

If you do start down this path, consider reading Deep Work by Cal Newport to give you some ideas about how you can use the focus and concentration abilities you're building. Again, it's not perfect, but if you take the book as a list of suggestions rather than a strict prescription of what you should do, you'll probably find that you can adapt its lessons to make your life better.

muzanionSep 10, 2017

I've read a lot of books on self discipline and IMHO that was the worst. Also pomodoro method is good for simple work, not great for programming as it interrupts flow and doesn't give enough break. I would recommend more like 2 hours work and 15-90 minutes break.

What I found more useful:

1. Deep Work, by Cal Newport. This is much more applicable for software engineers.

2. anything by Jocko Wilink. This is sort of the Navy Seal route, build grit and so on. Jocko's stuff is not fun to read, but there's a lot of insights.

3. Peak performance, basically how to do really intense stuff in the long term. Spoiler: the secret is in working hard and resting hard, and often the rest is more difficult than the work.

andarleenonMar 29, 2020

Personally, I struggle finding decent advice by reading such books. What I do instead, is I am building my own product. This surfaced quite a few personal limitations - one being focus. There is no amount of times one can read Deep Work to cover for that moment when things click in your head. By all means read books but practical experience is what wins for me.

sotojuanonOct 19, 2016

I've been reading some Cal Newport books, particularly Deep Work (where DHH makes an appearance) and all the examples are from very famous and/or smart people: Knuth, Bell Labs people, Jung, and a handful of successful writers. Listening to part of this interview got me thinking about the fact that I spend a lot of time learning about and reading about the skill of being able to work deeply in problems without distraction, but I realize I don't have 1% of the ambition of people who have really taken advantage of it.

I mean, I'm not lazy. I finished college, program for fun and work, maintain some open source projects, and I try to learn new things everyday. But at the same time, I just don't have the drive or desire to make a big splash in the world, start my own company, become known in a field or business, or solve the hardest problems there are. I always wonder if I waste time learning how the Greats can be so productive when my life goals are such that I can stay the same and still achieve them.

haswellonOct 9, 2020

Cal Newport's Deep Work [0] strongly advocates for exactly what he's doing. Neal may say "Bad Correspondent", but someone like Cal would argue that he's doing exactly what he must do to be successful as an author. Cal even mentions that Neal is his "Deep Work Idol" for this reason [1].

The difference is, Neal seems to feel badly about this, likely due to the pressures society puts on public figures to be available to them.

I really like the "Sender Filter" concepts outlined in Deep Work to help address this very issue (also discussed on Cal's blog) [2].

If you haven't noticed, I re-read Deep Work recently, so it's all fresh ;)

[0] https://www.calnewport.com/books/deep-work/

[1] https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2016/02/16/write-an-attentio...

[2] https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2016/04/12/to-make-email-eas...

j45onJan 12, 2019

I second Getting Things Done. This book is a little engine of productivity. It was responsible for a good chunk of any special productivity I've been perceived to have.

The book is easy to start with as your read it because it ties together skills you already have with creating an air tight system that enables your brain to trust you trust you not to forget anything - lowering your mental and cognitive load so you can focus in the present by taking a unique approach..

It literally lets you collect every random thought that has no relevance to the moment, capture it in a "someday/maybe" pile and put it away for future review. The brain, one emptied is ready to focus.

The new edition is updated for digital life too, which is great, I try to read it every year or two as well to keep sharp, the current read has been a nice refresher.

Currently using the newest 2Do app between Android/MacOS/Windows /iOS. It's really decent inter platform tool. If you're all Mac a lot of people like omnifocus too. I found other apps (things, toodle, rtm) lack the ability to break apart projects into super detail when needed but otherwise are great.

There are a few other books that help build a car around this engine (Mindset, Focal Point, So good they can't ignore you, Deep Work), but a car without an engine isn't a car.

RobertKeransonJune 22, 2021

> With that said generalisations like the one quoted are not substantiated. I don't think real commitment/passion to anything was that popular to begin with if we take the general population. Even historically if we take education levels back then.

If take this a slightly different way: I think it is common, very common, but that it's normally for some specific thing that isn't fashionable or going to produce a measure of fame. A helluva lot of people are experts at one thing (edit: that they care deeply about and devote huge amounts of time to), it's just "growing unfeasibly large marrows" or "fixing bikes" or "building model railway layouts" or "training dogs" or "cage fighting" or whatever don't have the mystique or social cachet of the underachieving creative who drops everything and isolates themselves to produce award winning novels.

I quite like Deep Work as well, but with this post he seems very taken by romantic ideals of creativity and stereotypes of modern life

colmvponMay 10, 2019

I think it's telling that those in tech, including billionaire execs like Jobs, were/are very sensitive to the usage of tech devices by their kids. Addiction to games, news, apps, entertainment is real, but that's only half the issue. It fosters this itch where we can't linger on uncomfortable thoughts without instinctively grabbing our phone to be distracted. This include when we're trying to really go deep on a subject matter that could take a long time to grok.

I credit a lot of changes I made over the last few years to courses like Learning How to Learn (Oakley, Sejnowski) and books like Deep Work (Newport) and Mastery (Greene) in helping to bring me back to realize the importance of uninterrupted blocks of hard, focused work. That coupled with moments of quiet time away from devices so that I can let my mind kind of just wander and process life has made life actually more fulfilling.

I quit Facebook, Twitter, and only check Instagram once every few days. I'm not totally 'clean' since I'll still spend time on YouTube and Reddit during moments of frustration, but I think it's important not to beat oneself up when one 'cheats.' After all, it's not completely a new phenomenon. There's always been things like books, newspapers, TV, radio to distract our attention.

But maybe it just feels a bit different since some of the smartest people in the world are working everyday to make sure we're looking at the thing they're working on in a very calculated fashion. That plus the fact that sometimes it feels like you're supposed to know so much of what's going on in the world and environment around you. But really, so many topics are so much more complicated than a simple cursory look that it feels kind of fruitless to jump into it when it realistically takes hundreds of hours to truly understand it.

q-baseonDec 22, 2016

Deep Work sure is a great book, but I would recommend people with interest in the material just to go directly to Flow by Mihály Csikszentmihalyi.

Read them one after the other, first Deep Work and then Flow. IF you are going to read both then I would recommend that order. Reading Flow first, then Deep Work doesn't have much to offer.

Those books actually re-fueled my love of programming.

sudhirjonDec 26, 2018

As with most things, the right answer is a combination of things. Cal Newport describes a plan called the Eudaimonia Machine in the book Deep Work, which seems it would make a great office space. Offers a open plan for when you need to do rote work / bookkeeping, and a solo sound proof office when you need to concentrate. Think the Basecamp office is also built this way, with a central open plan hub with private offices as spokes.

auganovonApr 8, 2018

Deep Work by Cal Newport - just a mashup of random cliches. Felt like I got duped into reading one of these "ebooks" by Internet Marketing types.

Utopia Is Creepy by Nicholas Carr - this one I haven't read. Probably the only non-fiction book I couldn't bring myself to finish. Super chaotic, I don't know about the other 2/3, but it seemed to literally be random blog posts compiled into a book. And given the book's premise, it just felt too hypocritical.

vegetablepotpieonMar 25, 2021

> Cal Newport said it best in his book Deep Work: 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.

The people who cultivate that skill, stay up late at night while everyone is asleep so they don’t get distracted. Then they come in late because they need sleep like every one else. As a consequence, deep thought workers are seen by their immediate and responsive counterparts as obtuse, eccentric, or worse: lazy and unable to manage their time.

This really comes down to the workers dilemma. Do you spend your time marketing your self to others and letting people know your accomplishments, or do you spend the time doing work that will benefit others? Deep thought workers will bias heavily towards work that will benefit others. This benefit is often non-obvious deep thought workers will run the risk that their peers, that are more connected and more reachable, will take the credit for the results.

polskibusonNov 19, 2017

It was better but not from the short term "I must kill the boredom now" point of view. Long version: read Deep Work by Cal Newport. Short version - by feeding our brain with information (doesn't have to be worthless but usually it's not relevant to our situation ) whenever we are bored, we're impairing our ability to focus and think deeply about problems, some researchers say irreversibly.

mindcrimeonDec 21, 2017


Tough to call. I got a lot out of Deep Work by Cal Newport, The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday, How To Win At The Sport Of Business by Mark Cuban, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, and The Engines of Creation by Eric Drexler, as well as the three Grant Cardone books I read: The 10x Rule, Sell or Be Sold and Be Obsessed or Be Average.


I'll go with The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami was also pretty good.

You can see the entire list of what I've read lately (and further back) on my Goodreads profile:


or, if this link is visible publicly, on this "2017 in books" page:


skorbenkoonJan 31, 2019

I wholeheartedly second your opinion on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book. In fact, I liked the book so much I even tried to condense it into somewhat of a summary [1]. The book is thought to be a Modern Classic, and at least in my opinion, it deserves the title. Deep Work has some interesting ideas, but is not yet time-proven, whereas Flow is.

Just my 2 cents ;-)

[1] https://skorbenko.github.io/books/books/flow.html

muzanionOct 9, 2017

Don't try to cut off social media or junk internet completely because it has its uses. Don't schedule breaks from it, schedule time where you can fully engage in it. Maybe only nights or weekends.

Train yourself to enjoy boredom. Boredom is not unproductive. Boredom trains you to focus. Force yourself to be bored for periods of time, even if it's just closing your phone before bed.

You might want to replace your bad internet habits with better ones. It can still be 'unhealthy', as long as it's enjoyable. I've replaced it with Netflix and HN. Netflix at least trains me to focus on something for 20 minutes without getting distracted.

The book Deep Work also covers this quite a bit.

gregcoombeonFeb 3, 2016

There are some interesting links in this recent Economist article:

Example quote: "... interruptions, even short ones, increase the total time required to complete a task by a significant amount."

Including a book I'm going to check out, "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World"

rajathagasthyaonAug 18, 2017

Deep Work is absolutely fantastic! I can already feel the difference in productivity just one week into practicing its strategies. I did three things to Slack after reading it:

1. Mute channels aggressively.

2. Snooze notifications often during the day.

3. Disable the red dot badge icon in the Slack app for any new messages (including the ones not addressed to you). This was the biggest source of distraction for me in Slack.

elymaronOct 9, 2017

I do several things. Pomodoro technique with the timer visible to see the clock run down (www.tomato-timer.com).
Stay focused Chrome plugin to blacklist sites and only have a set duration e.g. 10 minutes to look at them during the day (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankej...). Finally put your phone at least 20 feet away to not compulsively look at it (with airplane or moonlight mode on). Also check out the book Deep Work by Cal Newport for more strategies.

tmail21onApr 26, 2017

Ever increasing distraction and "real-time" communication and collaboration are reaching a point of diminishing returns and actually decreasing our productivity.

The book Deep Work, by Cal Newport is a start on identifying the problem and a possible solution (i.e. isolate yourself for stretches of time to accomplish Deep Work).

Unfortunately, we live in a world where collaboration is necessary. So, what's the solution?

One possibility is to come up with a collaboration solution that is built from the ground up to be asynchronous in nature. (Deep Collaboration as the enabler of Deep Work)

Such a solution would complement our real-time collaboration solutions.

mark_l_watsononJune 15, 2019

Interesting to hear Cal Newport after reading three books he wrote. As I have mentioned before, I got some value from his latest book but Deep Work is my favorite.

His message in Digital Minimalism is simple but not easy to do: take a 30 day break from using any non essential digital services like social media, NetFlix, etc. after 30 days reevaluate what you really want to keep in your life.

ryanmarshonNov 27, 2018

This cannot be overstated. I've been working on a professional thesis of sorts, a capstone if you will, for YEARS.

I'm on a sabbatical now and in the past month I feel like I've gotten more done on the capstone than in the past 3 years.

In September I was so burned out that when my client abruptly ended our contract (meh, it happens) I didn't look for a new one. I've been coasting on my cash cushion for two months now. It was a little scary at first but in my downtime I sold a bunch of short-term high paying gigs that begin in the new year.


Here's my 20/20 hindsight. Fuck working in your spare time and getting little to nothing done on your side projects and taking time away from your family and your health. Figure out how to make as much money as possible and spend as little as possible so that you can take a few months off at some point. Maybe you can game your employers leave policy, maybe do some contracting on the side, maybe don't buy that new car or house and instead put that money into a sabbatical fund. I don't know what will work for you. We all have very different lives and options.

I wish I could have back most of that "spare time" I wasted getting little to nothing done.

Also, read Deep Work by Cal Newport. If I can't change your mind on how to approach this, maybe he will. Maybe you'll understand why you're not getting anywhere with your side thing and realize it's not you, it's your situation. Once you understand that, you can know what to do to rectify the situation. Seriously, this has been a game changer for me.

Oh, and don't be surprised if for the first month of your sabbatical you get absolutely nothing done. That's because you're burned out and you didn't take care of yourself for all those years. That's the price you're going to have to pay before you can sprint again. Knowledge workers are like athletes. Rest and recovery is as important as exercise.

tuxxyonJuly 30, 2019

I've been reading a lot on focused work and this sounds like the exact opposite of what's supposed to happen. I can't recommend Cal Newport's book "Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world" enough.

He goes through a lot of psychology and science of how people work better when they're not distracted. It seems that all of the "Extreme Programming" guidelines go quite the opposite of what the science, per Cal Newport, suggests.

He also points out that collaboration is perfectly acceptable during deep and focused work, but this doesn't sound like how it should be at all.

nestorherreonMay 23, 2019

I can't write as detailed as I'd like to since I'm at work atm, but I'm a firm believer that a lot of diseases diagnosed do worse than better to you, since you automatically believe what is told to you and in some sort of way become "helpless". Of course you can take meds, but usually you have to stay on them forever, and when you quit you will relapse to your old behaviours. Now, I recommend to you these couple of things that have helped me and a lot others:

- Meditate: so underrated, this gives you so much calm and control that you cant even imagine. Do it periodically (for instance, I meditate 5 days a week) and do it on a fixed time each day, this will help you making it a habit. Probably better to start with mindless meditation, I recommend you Headspace app or you can also benefit from any YT video.

- Use pomodoro technique to work on tasks, it doesn't matter what task is given to you, make sure to work on it on the defined timeframe. Usually pomodoro is 25m work/5m rest, you should start with a different schedule, find one that works for you (at the beginning I used to do like 10x10).

- Read the book "Deep Work" by Cal Newport, a lot of valuable insight in there. Digital minimalsim by the same author should probably be on point as well (I haven't read it yet), but in Deep Work he emphasizes a lot about the damge that tech is doing to us, specially in our attention spans (you're constantly bombarded by notifications and reacting to them).

- Watch this video on how to control your mind (short but pretty useful): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYfYmYbp7C4

Good luck, you can do it.

fgandiyaonDec 19, 2017

This year I read:

1. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer - A steampunk graphic novel about Ada Lovelace and Charlie Babbage. Fun story with loads of research to back it up. Got even better when I got to go the UK and explore the places they worked at in their livetimes

2. The Hardware Hacker - A compilation of storis by bunnie focused on the hardware/maker(ish) ecosystem. Also discusses the Chinese manufacturing ecosystem and answers questions that most people have about it.

3. Technically Wrong - A book about how tech can sometimes leave lots of people behind for one reason or another and how we can fix them. A very quick read.

4. The Masters of Doom - The story of id Software, the company which spawned an entire genre with games like Doom and Wolfenstwein in its early days.

5. Blood, Sweat and Pixels - The book looks into how video games are made and the many challenges along the way. Focuses on ten games from solo all the way to AAA titles. Really good if you want to know why video games turn out the way they do. After reading this, you'll double take whenever you hear of a delayed game, cancelled project, E3 demos and buggy releases. It also has some uplifting moments.

6. My textbooks :).

Hopefully I can also read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Deep Work and CODE.

mlthoughts2018onJuly 3, 2018

I recently read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, and I wish I had employed this 50-page rejection rule instead of pushing through the whole thing.

I’m a big proponent of deep work habits, avoiding open-plan offices, etc., ... most of the stuff the book talks about. But it is just so poorly and shallowly written, mixing in little factoids or sound bytes that have no real evidentiary weight behind them and as a result just go in one ear and out the other. Most of the advice is entirely subjective, supported by anecdotes about unrealistically successful people who can use their positions of luck-driven-success to be sounding boards for whatever grandiose selection bias and retrospective plaudits they want.

I was very disappointed after seeing the book praised often here on HN. But boy, it was a total stinker and there are many better books on the topic (Peopleware, for one).

The whole book of Deep Work could have (and should have) been summarized with about 5 pages of bullet points, and published just as some blog post. It is absolutely dreadful as a long form book.

SleepfulonDec 20, 2020

Sometimes I code 0 hours per day, on a very productive day I code 6 yours MAX (no meetings all day). 4 hours of straight coding is plenty productive, you are unlikely to focus highly for longer than that, this is fact. Work remote, office hours come from the industrial revolution, as well as capitalism to make people more likely to spend their money on their very few free time.

A good book on this is Deep Work by Cal Newport. It is humanly impossible to achieve high focus for 8 hours....daily....

I don't understand why everyone in this thread is such a sucker for corporate that instead of answering the question on the post, they go off tangents about how "they can still work even if they can't focus that much anymore". It's stupid, it's evidence of mediocre and wasteful corporate politics. A waste of energy for everyone and everything.

skiddingonOct 30, 2018

Hey, Ovidiu the author here.

So how could this be interesting to you?

The app

I read a book called Deep Work to improve the quality of my work and found the simple "shutdown ritual" idea powerful. I started with a dead simple list that I went through every evening to clear my mind and disconnect from work.

Then I decided to build a simple app and keep iterating in small increments every day I also use the app. After about 2mo I use it daily and it looks good enough to draw a line. So I made it public in case anyone else finds it useful.

The codebase

Meanwhile, I wanted to learn React Native and try react-native-web. I also wanted to see how well styled-components behaves "unversally" and how to do server-side-rendering with RNW. It worked pretty well (for the most part...) and I learned a lot.

If you're interested in this tech stack I encourage you to dig through the codebase and maybe run it locally to get a feel.

If you have any questions related to the app or the codebase, fire away. I'll answer gladly!

tiniuclxonJan 4, 2020

I believe that the difference between sitting down and reading a book for an hour vs. browsing the internet is _exactly_ what makes books so valuable.

You're right, books are a lot of effort. However, they teach something that internet articles & videos don't, and that is delayed gratification.

In the digital age, everything is fighting for your attention and it is getting harder and harder to actually focus on anything. Clickbait titles is perhaps the most obvious manifestation, but you can see it in videos as well - many popular videos are edited in a specific way (no pauses between sentences, cut after cut after cut) that grabs your attention as often as possible.

Books let you practice tuning all that noise out and focusing on a single task for a long time, while still providing entertainment. For a knowledge worker, to be able to focus at this level is a very valuable ability!

Deep Work by Cal Newport is a non-fiction book that goes into more detail about some of these ideas concerning focus in the contemporary era.

Another great non-fiction book that really couldn't be presented in another medium is "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" by Jonathan Haidt. The Righteous Mind is not an easy read because the ideas presented are complex and wide-reaching. It takes a lot of time to go through and digest, but it is definitely worth it. The Righteous Mind has had perhaps the most impact upon my understanding of humanity and politics out of anything I've ever read.

If you want to see what it's like to read for fun, check out the Broken Earth trilogy by N. K. Jemisin - this is probably the best pacing I have ever experienced in a fantasy series.

And if you think science fiction would be more your thing, try to to take a stab at reading Dune by Frank Herbert. This is a sci-fi classic that essentially codified the genre, and some of the ideas in the series are what made Star Wars the phenomenon it is today. I think you can't get better proof that books can stand the test of time than this!

PhemistonMay 31, 2016

Loved the book, motivated me to cut out a lot of distractions in my daily work life, as well as take control in adjusting websites more to my needs (Writing small, custom tamper monkey javascript snippets to edit views of, for example, Facebook)

Just a small addendum, the book is called "Deep Work", not "Deep Focus"

beatonApr 12, 2019

It's not just Slack. It's our phones! Notifications are distraction engines.

At the beginning of March, I went cold turkey on most social media (I still allow myself HN and a guitar player's forum), and completely cold turkey on using my phone for these things - I have to use an actual computer. I put Kindle where Facebook used to be on my phone, and always have a book on it that can be read in small bites for those "OMG I AM BORED FOR TWO MINUTES" moments, and I carry a Kindle Paperwhite with longer-form reading for lunchtime and such.

My brain feels amazingly different. I'm more aware and happier. I'm getting more work done. My stress levels are way down. My book-reading rate has at least tripled.

This article refers a lot to Cal Newport's excellent Deep Work, but I wish it also referred to his more recent Digital Minimalism, which is full of useful advice for limiting the ways social media and instant messaging undermine our productivity and happiness.

_5meqonJune 11, 2018

It sounds like you have a dysfunction with decision making and productivity. This is something you need to deal with.

It's OK! It happens to a lot of people. This is something you can study and improve.

I highly recommend reading a few books on productivity and making good decisions in order to correct your behavior.

My recommendations are:

- Deep Work - Cal Newport

Will go into detail about how to learn new things and accomplish large projects.

- Smarter Faster Better - Charles Duhigg

Goes into the psychology of motivation, accomplishing large tasks, setting goals, and making better decisions.

- The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Nee - Daniel H. Pink

A cheesy and poorly drawn manga-style career guide with some surprisingly good advice on career advancement and fulfillment. This one is a short read but I can't help but think back on it and reflect on it's lessons from time to time.

mark_l_watsononApr 12, 2018

After reading his books Deep Work and Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You, I feel like Cal Newport has become sort-of a guru for me, not pure computer science, but the larger view of how to live a good life.

I am sharing this article with friends and family to maybe help them understand why I don’t want to use social media, rather, I want to talk on the phone, email directly, and travel to see people.

I manage a machine learning/AI team so I am not against technology, but technology truly needs to serve human needs.

kirubakaranonDec 22, 2016

Here is my full bookshelf: http://www.kirubakaran.com/books-read.html

Books Read in 2016:

1. The Recursive Universe: Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge
- Poundstone, William

2. My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos
- Schechter, Bruce

3. One Summer: America, 1927
- Bryson, Bill

4. The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)
- Liu, Cixin

5. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit
- Godin, Seth

6. At Home: A Short History of Private Life
- Bryson, Bill

7. Kings of Kings (Hardcore History, #56-58)
- Carlin, Dan

8. Blueprint for Armageddon (Hardcore History #50-55)
- Carlin, Dan

9. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal
- Klaff, Oren

10. William Shakespeare: The World as Stage
- Bryson, Bill

11. So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
- Newport, Cal

12. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
- Pressfield, Steven

13. In a Sunburned Country
- Bryson, Bill

14. Cannery Row
- Steinbeck, John

15. Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
- Weinberg, Gabriel

16. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
- Newport, Cal

17. Starship Troopers
- Heinlein, Robert A.

18. No Touch Monkey!: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late
- Halliday, Ayun

HiroshiSanonJan 31, 2019

Though I completely agree with your sentiment, Cal explicitly defines the meaning of Deep Work, and I think it's an important thing society should think about as technology progresses. It helps to have the terminology to describe the state of our lives.

From page 3 of the book, Deep Work:

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.

At least read the book before you trash it.

williamkennedyonSep 16, 2016

I have actually written about this a lot as it is one of those topics that I am fascinated with. The trick is not to try and motivate yourself but to build systems and processes to get things done regardless.

For me, it boils down to 3 things. Pre-planning, habits and elimination. I have written about each separately on my blog http://www.new2code.com/2016/06/deep-work/

I plan a lot of stuff on my Google Calendar. My whole days are planned in advance including free time. When I am learning a new language, I set aside time for study. If a friend asks me to hang out, I can just check to see if I have prior commitments. I also have the regular gym slot and after 2+ years, I am simply routine when it comes to exercising.

Next, learn how to build habits and routines. This saves a ton brain power. There is a great video on habit building


Also, check out a book by Charles Duhigg called The Power of Habit.

Finally, cut out the news and as much information as possible. Not watching the news added a ton of happiness to my life. This also cuts out distractions. Check out something called the Low Information Diet which goes into more detail as well as a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport

I also wrote a guest post on the blog Simple Programmer that goes into more detail on the willpower.motivation side of things https://simpleprogrammer.com/2016/09/07/limited-willpower/

I hope that helps. Largely I don't believe in long-term motivation, it is more to do with becoming routine.

LordarminiusonJuly 2, 2016

Money Changes Everything - William Goetzmann; pub 2016: A history and exploration of money and finance and its centrality in building civilization. There is a great review of the book at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/books/review/money-changes...

Chess is My Life -Victor Korchnoi; pub 1977! (One reason I like reading biographies is for the fact that occasionally, they disabuse your mind of the notion that certain people secure success with ease)

How non-conformists move the world - Adam grant and Sheryl Sandberg; 2016: Explanatory title.

The well grounded Rubyist (I'm on Chapter 13 yay!)

Deep Work - Carl Newport 2015; because it rocks as a guide for increased personal effectiveness.

All recommended.

randcrawonJuly 3, 2018

I recently read "Deep Work" too. I found it unenlightening but generally well written.

Newport's main failing was his laser focus on how to schedule your waking hours to spend more time doing deep work. At least half of the book addressed only this. Personally, I'd have preferred to hear more about what deep work is, what ends it serves, and how to do it better. But I guess we were supposed to read Csikszentmihalyi's "Flow" for that.

Mostly I came away from the book with deep insights into how Newport manages his daily routine for maximum productivity. Useful info perhaps, but not what I sought. However, as a self-help book, Deep Work shines. And seen in this light, its many 5 star reviews start to make more sense.

csnewbonDec 19, 2017

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is a cringy read, I couldn't get past the first chapter. Deep Work as a whole can be summarized in a sentence. My interpretation is: put away distractions and focus on getting things done. There's other advice there but none of it is anything you haven't heard of before. CODE is great on the other hand. Just skip the nonsense self-help stuff.

shooveronSep 22, 2017

I read this as a single article distillation of the principles in Deep Work by Cal Newport, very well done. It's been a while since I read Pragmatic Thinking and Learning by Andy Hunt, but the article feels familiar with that, as well (I recall a helpful section on meditation). The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry is another great resource.

Newport's sources showed that most people are capable of about four hours of deep work per day. If you hit that level, add in 2-3 hours of shallower tasks, and do it every day, you reach 200 "productive hours" in a month. I'm not sure how many people are willing or able to carve out two 3-hour blocks more than five days a week, but it seems highly worthwhile to step back once a month or quarter, with one's s.o. or family, if present, and think about what is possible and what makes sense in support of mutual goals. From there, in light of the goals and constraints, the article's breakdown for cultivating the environment, body, and mind are clarifying. Ok, I'm sitting down with my wife and doing this this weekend.

The gist of the article is what I try to practice, and I find the strategy refresher motivating. I have had good success with removing push notifications, removing the phone from the workspace, sleeping at the same time, regular breaks to stay limber, targeted muscle work (rowing during winter until it gets too boring, the Roam Strong workout plan currently), and reducing junk calories intake. I've had less success building deep work persistence by making streaks and subdividing tasks. I think it's time to force the break to a separate device for leisure.

How much is it worth spending on a CO2 monitor? As a remote worker, I'm in the same air space almost all day every day, so if there is a low grade problem, I'm cooked.

justinchanonMay 25, 2019

Read Deep Work by Cal Newport. I’ve had problems my entire life up until the past year with self-discipline and bad habits. This book, among other factors, flipped a switch for me.

Other key factors were finding things in life that are worth the short term sacrifice for long term fulfillment. Surround yourself with ambitious folks. I’ve been the degenerate binge- watching Netflix till 5am, skipping college classes etc. And still have days almost that bad, but full-time employment changes people. Build good habits, adopt a growth mindset and we all can do it. Oh and sleep is extremely important. If I get less than 7 hours, I don’t have enough mental stamina and end up succumbing to all the short term desires.

danialonDec 22, 2016

Books I read that I would recommend:

Deep Work - Cal Newport

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise - Anders Ericsson, Robert Pool

The War of Art - Steven Pressfield

Do the Work - Steven Pressfield

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future - Ashlee Vance

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike - Phil Knight

The one that surprised me the most was the last one on that list. I don't usually read memoirs but this one was recommended by a few people so I picked it up and found the honesty with which he describes his mistakes refreshing and useful.

beatonDec 18, 2018

When I was younger, I made a rule for myself to always be reading a fiction and a nonfiction book simultaneously, to keep my reading habit from being all fiction all the time. Now that I'm older, I keep the same rule, to keep my reading from being all nonfiction all the time. As it is, I probably read five or more nonfiction books for every fiction book these days.

I don't know if it's about self-improvement so much as self-education, which seem a little different to me. For example, Deep Work is absolutely a self-improvement book, but Prisoners of Geography is simply educational. After reading Deep Work, I behaved differently (not differently enough). After reading Prisoners of Geography, I knew more, but didn't feel any different.

fokinseanonMar 28, 2018

I had a very similar experience, but have since relapsed back into the instagram-sphere. The only things keeping me there are group chats and Fortnite clips/memes.

The biggest benefit was how much my attention span improved when I quit, but now I am back using insta and the itching feeling of grabbing my phone the moment I'm bored or stuck on something has returned.

I need to re-read Deep Work and highly recommend it to others. I'm also going to give your app a try!

dharmononAug 25, 2017

Specifically calling out the Deep Work book, I recall after the 6 months of promo, talks, and general marketing of the book the author wrote a blog post calling for participants to actually, well, you know, help test if the ideas in the book actually had any scientific merit.

I was already pretty disillusioned with the self help crowd (even those who claimed a scientific background), but that was the nail in the coffin.

jonathanfosteronMay 26, 2018

The author references Cal Newport's Deep Work [1]. I recently read this book and I can't recommend it enough. It's not just a productivity fluff piece about the importance of focus. He brings an academic rigor to the debate and backs up his claims with legitimate evidence. Best of all, the book is not just theory, it's 100% actionable.

I used Newport's recommendations to reclaim 4+ solid hours of deep focus and it's had a tremendous impact on my productivity and general quality of life.

Here are a few strategies I found successful:

* Create a TODO list each day and separate tasks into shallow and deep categories

* Block off each hour of the day and and fill it with one of the TODO items

* Restrict shallow work to 2 hours (after 2 hours, say no to everything shallow)

* Create a scorecard and track the number of deep hours each day (this number should increase)

* Experiment with Newport's recommendations for two weeks and see which ones increase your deep hours

* Become comfortable saying no

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Work-Focused-Success-Distracted/...

tedmistononJune 3, 2017

Thanks for sharing the summary. Deep Work was recommended to me recently so this is super helpful. It seems consistent with common thinking that attention is a muscle to be strength trained regularly.

I've been gathering my own book notes in a GitHub repo [1] and added a link back to your post for when I read the book.

[1]: https://github.com/tedmiston/notes

himinlomaxonJune 30, 2021

Hypothesis: an underestimated reason why people don't want to go back to the office is not (just) because they like WFH, but because offices suck hard for knowledge workers when they need not. The reason why is based on a major historiological mistake, see the book Deep Work (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25744928-deep-work)

colmvponJan 8, 2018

It reminds me of Cal Newport's book Deep Work, where he argues those who can deliberately focus in the 21st century and actively deny themselves from being distracted (scheduled e-mail reading, banning Slack, only reading news certain times of the day) and go deep in subject matters will have massive advantages in the knowledge economy. The open office trend certainly hasn't helped. One of my friends who is a ML coder says he'll get 4x done in a single day at home compared to going to work where he gets bombarded by conversations.

After reading many books related to apps and attention (e.g. Hooked!, Irresistible), I elected to give up using Facebook, Instagram, and put heavy restrictions on my habit of going to Reddit/NYTimes/News Websites.

And I'll print things from the web so that I can concentrate on it without distraction in a quiet room with no digital distractions.

When I was younger, I probably called Knuth a luddite for abstaining from e-mail all the way back in the 90s. But wow, my opinion has done a full 180 over the 2010s.

rwieruchonDec 30, 2017

If you are looking for books about getting your attention back, I can only recommend Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi [0] and Deep Work by Cal Newport [1] I wrote an extensive blog post about both books (which happened to be on HN too), because they are kinda life changing.

- [0] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/66354.Flow

- [1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25744928-deep-work

- [2] https://www.robinwieruch.de/lessons-learned-deep-work-flow/

satyajitranjeevonDec 22, 2016

Things I completed:

1. Elon Musk: Inventing the Future

2. The Code Book - Simon Singh

3. Fermat's Enigma - Simon Singh

4. Deep Work - Cal Newport

5. Smarter Faster Better - Charles Duhigg

6. 1984

7. So good they can't ignore you - Cal Newport

8. Distributed Systems for fun and profit

9. Classic Shell Scripting

Things I partially read and hope to complete some time:

1. The music of Primes

2. Traction

3. Founders at work

4. Your Memory: How it works and how to improve it

Things I would recommend:
Fermat's Enigma and The Code Book are very interesting reads if you are into Mathematics. They are both written very well and you don't need to know too much of Mathematics to understand it. On the other hand The Music of Primes started of very interesting and then got a bit too heavy for an evening read. If you can chug along I think it would be a good one too.

Of all the self help books I mentioned I think Duhiggs Smarter, faster better is the one that stands out. It is more of an analysis of various teams and people and how they got to work efficiently.

Founders at work is a long read but something that you can read a chapter independently and that's why it is under half read but definitely something to look at.

[EDIT: formatting]

wainsteadonFeb 17, 2017

See also: chapter 9 of the seminal "Peopleware," 3rd edition:

Before drawing the plans for its Santa Teresa facility, IBM violated all industry standards by carefully studying the work habits of those who would occupy the space. The study was designed by the architect Gerald McCue with the assistance of IBM area managers. Researchers observed the work processes in action in current work spaces and in mock-ups of proposed work spaces. They watched programmers, engineers, quality control workers, and managers go about their normal activities. From their studies, they concluded that a minimum accommodation for the mix of people slated to occupy the new space would be the following:

• 100 square feet of dedicated space per worker
• 30 square feet of work surface per person
• Noise protection in the form of enclosed offices or 6-foot-high partitions (they ended up with about half of all professional personnel in enclosed one- and two-person offices)

The rationale for building the new laboratory to respect these minimums was simple: People in the roles studied needed the space and quiet in order to perform optimally. Cost reduction to provide work space below the minimum would result in a loss of effectiveness that would more than offset the cost savings. Other studies have looked into the same questions and come up with more or less the same answers.

I just read "Deep Work" (due to another HN user's comment somewhere) and it's full of good information. Being able to work free of distractions and interruptions means incredible productivity.

See also http://wiki.c2.com/?LordOfTheFlies

0x54MUR41onOct 27, 2016

Cal Newport recently is discussing about the open office. I am sure it is related to his new book, Deep Work. These following posts are explained it:

- Is Facebook’s Massive Open Office Scaring Away Developers? [1]

- The Opposite of the Open Office [2]

The previous discussion of one of that post also appears on HN. You may check it out here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12677866.

[1]: http://calnewport.com/blog/2016/10/09/is-facebooks-massive-o...

[2]: http://calnewport.com/blog/2016/10/19/the-opposite-of-the-op...

rektideonMay 18, 2021

Starting off with new collaboration tooling integration is pretty on target for 2021!

Getting a big vibe of yesterday's "Slack Destroying American Companies"[1]. I didn't actually click through & read, which would have lead me to finding out it's Matt Taibbi having a discussion with Antonio Garcia-Martinez (who personally I am not interested in hearing from). But the title reminded me of a part of Ezra Klein interviewing Cal Newport about his new book, "A World Without Email"[2]. In the interview they spend quite a while discussing how it seems like the whole world is presently stuck with Slack, how there's so little visible mainstream competition. Cal has been engaged with this question of workflow & tech & collaboration for a number years, often from a somewhat anti- standpoint, with books such as "Deep Work" and "Digital Minimalism". Hearing two sharp minds talking about collaboration was incredibly enriching to me.

Notably, the collaboration tools shown at the beginning of IO are for explicit collaboration times. They're not marketed as always on communication devices, not a replacement for slack. But they both are about modern tech-enabled collaboration, which is an interesting topic, and one that seems like we're only just starting to really dive into. Long long long after Engelbart's Mother of All Demos (52.4 years after).

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27191181

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/05/podcasts/ezra-klein-podca...

NumberSixonApr 12, 2017

The article does not discuss the impact of the open office movement. I've worked from home, in actual offices, in cubicles both cramped and spacious, and open offices. It can be quite difficult to focus at home due to various distractions, especially if you do not have a separate room or area for work. It is difficult to separate work and non-work with a home office. There are a variety of communications issues with colleagues when working from home. However, programming requires high levels of concentration and focus; I work on complex algorithms and mathematical software which requires extremely high levels of concentration and focus. Open offices are simply too noisy and full of interruptions. Thus, given a choice between an open office and home, home wins.

But in general I would rather work in a quiet office near my colleagues. There is a clear separation between work and non-work. Communication is faster and easier, less prone to misunderstandings. This however means something like an actual office or a quiet spacious cubicle with high sound absorbent walls.

In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport argues in favor of a "hub and spoke" office layout where knowledge workers can work in quiet in offices on the spokes, but meet and collaborate at hubs, such as common areas with food, coffee machines, printers etc. This seems like a much better way to balance the need for deep concentration on the one hand with "collaboration," annoying MBA buzz-word at present.

therobot24onDec 18, 2018

  - Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon by Valley John Carreyrou
- Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep by Matthew Walker
- The Magicians by Lev Grossman
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
- How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
- Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World by Hans Rosling
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
- The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain
- 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
- Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Tia T. Farmer
- Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
- Linear Algebra by Jim Hefferon
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
- Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
- Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Atomic Habits by James Clear

Most are about self improvement...i wonder if this bias says something about those who recommended the books. Was hoping for some new fiction books to put on my audiobook list.

dbcurtisonMay 22, 2017

At the risk of repeating myself, I will recommend that people read Cal Newport's blog, and his book: Deep Work.

Here is a good blog post on office design that supports deep work:

If I ever get a chance to design an office, it will be something like the above. Small risk of that, however.

At the risk of sounding like I want to dehumanize work (quite the opposite, actually), I'd like to point out that anybody thinking of adding, say, a new milling machine to a machine shop, would look at how much space you need for it and around it to work productively and have quick access to the necessary accessories. Yet, we don't put any analysis at all into what it takes to maximize the productivity of people. And too often, we go for one-size-fits-all solutions. I can imagine a high-functioning dev-ops team really benefiting from the instantaneous communication of having all 8 people on the team sitting within a short chair roll of each other in a common space. For the people who need long blocks of unbroken concentration, that kind of space is not as functional. "Interrupt driven" work and "deep though" work are two different kinds of work, and it should be no surprise that a single space is not optimal for both.

zachruss92onJuly 13, 2018

For a nonfiction book, The Millionaire Next Door was a game changer for how I though about wealth accumulation. It's the findings of a statistical analysis of the life and habits of millionaires.

Deep Work had the similar effects on my work habits as the former did on my finances.

If you're looking for a fun fantasy read, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson is one of my all-time favorite standalone novels.

krrishdonMay 31, 2017

I recently stopped using all of my social media, inspired by Cal Newport's Deep Work, and this resonates deeply with me.

At risk of sounding like an out-of-touch baby boomer (I'm 18), I think the portrayed utility of staying connected with people, etc etc, isn't the utility that drives our social media usage anymore. For me at least, the only tangible thing it accomplished in the long run was disrupting my boredom. I found that most of the content I was consuming was the equivalent of reading a magazine in the bathroom; I probably don't give a shit about the contents, but some content (regardless of quality) is preferable to idle boredom.

I've found, after a few weeks of not using it at all, that the times during which I'm bored are more easily spent on things that I'd otherwise ~feel~ too busy for, even if I had the time to do them all along. It's not even that I fill my boredom with productivity; I, kinda abstractly, feel less busy now that I allow myself to idle. It's weirdly made life a lot less stressful even though browsing social media is technically zero-effort.

It's also inspired me to tune out all of the content that relied on a push model to reach me (unsubscribing from certain newsletters, barely any notifications enabled, etc). It gives me a feeling of control to be able to choose when to consume certain content instead of being made to by virtue of notification.

martin-adamsonOct 18, 2016

I was new to it as well when a commenter on my YouTube channel recommended the Deep Work book. Listened to the audio book and really, really appreciated it. Deep work is now something I aspire to get better at because I'd been feeling it was something I was missing for a while now.

I think of it like getting in the zone with coding where you get deeply valuable work done without distractions.

spappalonOct 31, 2018

I agree that Deep Work is worth a read. Quite a few meaningful ideas in quite few pages. The end-of-day shutdown is one of the ideas that stuck in me. After a workday my mind is usually buzzing a bit too much for most activities. Focusing on winding down helps very much. Having accepted the point made by the author in combination with it being such a small thing to say the phrase when walking from work means that I often remember to say the phrase and then instantly accept that I should focus the last drops of work-related attention on disconnecting from work in a good way. Helps me a lot!

criddellonFeb 13, 2019

I don't think fiction can be shrunk down, but I think lots of non-fiction books can.

I'm thinking specifically of some books that I've read in the past couple of years that include:

  * Deep Work
* Influence
* Thinking Fast and Slow
* Predictably Irrational
* Getting Things Done
* How to Win Friends and Influence People

I think all of these books suffer from the common pattern of present an idea then a bunch of examples that demonstrate the idea. I don't think you lose anything by ditching the examples. The core ideas are usually well stated and don't need clarification or demonstration.

burlesonaonJuly 4, 2020

Great article. The author concludes with the following points on what is happening to information as all information is increasingly "flattened" to fit the new, single content stream of the social media feeds on our smartphones:

1. Everything is trivialized: major public policy changes arrive in the same package and placed next to trivial pop culture.

2. We respond to information using the same low-bandwidth tools (like, heart, retweet, etc.) that limit the expressiveness of response.

3. All information is in direct competition, playing the algorithms to gain attention.

4. Power over information is consolidated to a very small number of gatekeepers, and mainly Facebook.

This is an interesting way to look at things, and it resonates with me. I think the author described the problems with what I think of as the "hypermedia" era very well. But the author doesn't offer suggestions for what, if anything we should do about it.

As for myself, a couple years ago I read Cal Newport's Deep Work and then Digital Minimalism, and found their ideas compelling enough that I deleted Facebook and disabled web browsing and email on my phone (although I later put web and email back).

However, #deletefacebook seems to have about a snowballs chance of happening at large.

What countering forces could or should break the deathgrip that Facebook and Google in particular hold over communication and information publication today?

anexprogrammeronOct 24, 2016

I have ADHD, so I've done this a lot. :)

First take a look at this from a few days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12734671 on a book: Deep Work. Basically just some of the tactics ADHD people have been using for ages.

The whole world seems to have developed some mild sub clinical ADD thanks to social and phones. So first off don't be surprised you're struggling.

Understand that web browsing and social are variable reward machines. Click a link and you have another new snippet to read, or video to see. Each one gives you a reward and a small dopamine boost. Now compare with preparing for interview, or thinking about a side project. Where's the rewards? Later. Maybe not even today! It's a luxury cheesecake vs diet fruit portion question.

Look at the pomodoro technique and break tasks up with small rewards. 25 mins productive, 5 mins social (if you can stop at the next beep). Get a cheap $5 kitchen timer to sit next to you. If your willpower is lacking, add a browser extension to set limits on social cheesecake sites. If the phone is main distraction add an app to silence notifications, or remove the strongest distractions - the social ones!

Same goes for desktop on your laptop - remove the candy, set it up for productivity. Maybe separate logins - one for productivity, one that permits you near the fun stuff. :p

For god's sake don't keep todo lists and such on your phone. Turn phone off, use a notebook, post it or pad, or text file on the laptop! Otherwise you're now holding the crack, and hoping not to be tempted. Just 5 minutes, I can handle it...

Accept that your attention will wander, and get used to checking in and trying to bring it back. That timer helps. If you struggle add another timer to beep every few minutes - as a checkin. Don't get depressed if you trip up. Forgive yourself, and try again - you're building a new habit, and that will take time and many mistakes.

Last, lots of exercise, fluids, healthy eating and breaks away from keyboard will keep you fresh.

MatachinesonOct 27, 2016

How about trying to actually do it? I agree self-help books are mostly fluff that can be said in half the length, but I do think "Deep Work" is a useful technique.

One problem I did have with the book was that Deep Work might not be useful for someone whose work is largely mechanical or mundane, though in that case I'd apply Deep Work to learn skills to into more interesting jobs if one wishes.

DarkTreeonFeb 23, 2017

> Deep Work, along with many other non-fiction "self help" books HN loves, could just be a couple of long blog posts.

Sure, they could be, but I would argue there is benefit to expanding them into longer books.

I haven't read this specific book, but have read several other "self-help" books and while the majority of them have shown repetitive themes, that same repetition is what ingrained the overall message the author is trying to disseminate. Reading a book over the course of weeks has a much more lasting effect on me, than probably any blog posts I've read.

nestorherreonJan 23, 2020

I can recommend reading the books Atomic Habits, Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. The biggest takeaway from all 3 imho is environment design [1] [2], explained best in Atomic Habits (but also "used" in the other 2).

Also I'd recommend the Pomodoro technique, which is quite useful for me.

[1] https://jamesclear.com/power-of-environment
[2] https://jamesclear.com/environment-design-organ-donation

terminalcommandonApr 26, 2017

IMHO it is not the Internet that's the problem. The constant connectivity is killing productivity.

Every morning I used to start my day with reading HN, on the bus to school I surfed the web. At uni, on every break I used to take out my phone and browse some more. After school I binge-watched TV shows and surfed more. My attention span got so divided that I couldn't concentrate watching a single episode, I constantly switched to a browser to surf more.

I learned a lot about programming, but my personal life suffered.

I couldn't meet deadlines, couldn't study for uni (studying law).

In the end I concluded that I had developed something like an internet addiction.

Furthermore, it wasn't just limited to internet. I stopped changing clothes, stopped keeping my already cluttered room in a somewhat liveable standard, stopped caring for my health, ate a lot of junk food, got hooked to TV-Shows.

Now, instead of constant short bursts of divided internet surfing, I am trying to set out a time for surfing. And outside those hours, I go offline.

It has been a though switch, but I slowly feel that I'm getting my impulse control back.

I recently started reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, I can recommend it to anyone trying to get off the vicious cycle.

mark_l_watsononJune 3, 2019

Digital Minimalism was probably my least favorite Cal Newport book, not for the subject matter but because of the reliance on third party stories. I like to hear peoples’ stories first hand.

Even though I ended up being a partially failed case for using this book, I still got value from it. I mostly did the thirty day digital detox but ended up going back almost to my old routine. The difference is that I have perhaps reduced wasted time on my devices by about 1/3. I am more aware of how much time I am spending, while I am spending it reading Twitter, HN, or playing Chess or Go when I have short periods of non-busy time. I am considering removing Chess and Go apps from all my devices.

If you are going to read just one Cal Newport book, I recommend choosing Deep Work.

chaselyonJuly 12, 2017

Cal also did a recent podcast with Ezra Klein (formerly of Washington Post and now leading Vox) about his book and the ideas behind it [0].

I'm skeptical of most "self-help" and business books but Deep Work was helpful for me and I come back to the book any time I feel myself slipping. I admit I may be biased towards his work since he is a theoretical CS professor [1] who happens to write books about work and productivity.

[0] https://soundcloud.com/panoply/cal-newport-on-doing-deep-wor...

[1] https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=EhodjeAAAAAJ&hl=en

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