DEV Community


Deep Work: a developer’s review

I'm a tech enthusiast, I work with Javascript and Python... I write short simple blogs about programming and tech in general. Good to meet you!🙂
Originally published at on ・4 min read

So books have been around for a long time and have been a great source of knowledge throughout (and in my opinion they still are). One of the best things you can do if you’re learning a new skill or just want to better yourself is to read, feed your brain. I recently finished reading the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, these are my take away thoughts/lessons. 🙂

  • The practice of deep work is valuable
  • Deep work is necessary

DEEP WORK IS VALUABLE. In the first chapters of the book, Cal makes clear points that put emphasis on the value of deep work. Deep work is very rare in the world we live in thus making it seem unimportant and meaningless, which is a total misconception. One of the things I’ve noticed about people in general is that most of them are a bit of “this” and a bit of “that” its rare to come across someone pursuing a single focused craft/path. I’ll use programming as an example because that’s what I’m familiar with, take the field of Web development for instance, one can take one of two approaches to it, you can either go “wide” or “deep”. Going wide means you take a lot of programming languages (maybe five on top of knowing web fundamentals), granted, learning even a single language and getting good at it takes time its pretty needless to say, going wide is obviously a terrible approach if you’re trying to “master” your craft. The other approach “deep” means you take for instance, just two languages (maybe Javascript and Python … on top of web fundamentals) and you learn as much as there is to know about each, down to the core of what makes the language. Deep work is exactly that: focusing all your time, attention and effort towards one specific task/craft and going as deep as you possibly can with it… stretching your mind to its limits, that is where breakthroughs are made. I personally always prefer a Specialist over a Generalist. Deep work is also valuable because its hard to master, human willpower is limited, when you apply intense focus on something, its only a matter of time before your brain becomes exhausted (but here’s the good thing, the brain can be trained, its very good at learning things). Like most valuable things, Deep work is a skill that takes both time and effort, once mastered, one can switch between shallow and cognitive tasks with ease.

DEEP WORK IS NECESSARY. I understand that this isn’t for everyone, some people are okay with not concentrating deeply on things they do, and some just don’t have such things in their lives… (not all of us have passion for the things we do). I’m saying deep work is necessary mostly to people in:

  • Art
  • Knowledge work, like science, math or research
  • Computer science and programming
  • literature

It could apply to more than the fields I’ve listed above, that’s just what I could think of right now. For Art, its kinda obvious that directors, filmmakers, photographers and storytellers in general spend several hours on projects continuously. People who make paintings, drawings and so forth… the great ones practice Deep work. In science Deep work has been behind massive breakthroughs and inventions, Apollo 11 would not have been possible without the practice of deep work. Just read about Albert Einstein to see what I mean. In computer science and programming Bill Gates is one name that towers above most, in the last chapter of Deep Work , Cal mentions Bill Gates as one of the best deep workers of all time. I personally have been fascinated by Bill Gates and the way he built Microsoft, I’ve read a lot about him (which sounds obsessive), a lot of nerds look up to Bill Gates, I’m one of those nerds 🤓… In Literature, you have great poets and authors, writers of all kind, all of which benefit from the practice of deep work.

As someone who is learning the art of computer programming, I figured this could be a good weapon/tool in my arsenal. Deep work, by no doubt takes time to get familiar with, for your brain to adapt to that level of intensity… I’m giving it a shot, I hope you do too.

Alright cool. ✌

Discussion (0)