Yep, it’s a book review. A Deep Work summary because it led to some deep thoughts.
I think it’s safe to say I think about budgeting more than the average human.
I also read quite a bit although I’m less confident in quantifying the amount I read as compared to the rest of humanity. And, probably unsurprising to most, I manage to find a budgeting lesson even in great non-budgeting books. Deep Work by Cal Newport was no different.
Deep Work Summary
Deep Work by Cal Newport is all about how to find greater success by learning to improve your ability to focus by avoiding distractions in order to master intense concentration or “Deep Work.” In order to cultivate this skill, you must be willing to set aside chunks of time, cut yourself off from distractions like social media, and carve out long moments where you can do hard thinking and, ultimately, your best work.
By the way, it was so good that I made it mandatory reading for the entire YNAB team.
Have You Really Thought About Your Priorities?
Work is becoming increasingly hard to focus on with the non-stop notifications of apps and emails and other interruptions, to the extent that completing demanding logistical-style tasks effectively and efficiently requires making a conscious choice to perform deep work.
I loved the implications for our remote team at YNAB, but I also found myself thinking of the “deep work” that is required in figuring out what really makes you happy. It can be a grueling, intellectual challenge to identify, choose and commit to your true priorities.
We’ve been kicking around a potentially very big change in the Mecham household and it’s tough; you have to really get to the heart of issues. And that requires some deep thinking, some long moments of concentrated conversation, note taking, and analysis. It’s not shallow work, and shouldn’t be tackled as such.
Take The Time To Do Deep Work
I think a lot of times, we are far too flippant about it all. That’s what I liked about the book: if you really want your brain to be unleashed on something, if you want problems to be solved, you have to be willing to sit down and really wrestle with an issue. And as an added bonus, making the choice to focus will also help you improve your skill.
There are so many fantastic examples of it, like the invention of the transistor, the breakthroughs in philosophy or psychology, people going off into these cabins in the woods and thinking for 30 days or more at a time.
Maybe that isn’t possible for you—I know it’s not for me—but you can commit to unplugging a little bit more intentionally and focusing, uninterrupted, on something hard, whether it’s professional activities performed or solving an ongoing issue in your personal life. The ability to concentrate on one thing at a time is increasingly rare and exceedingly valuable.
Unplug And Focus
And could one of those things you choose to focus on be what you really want your money to do? At your core, what you want your life to be about? If you’re sharing finances, obviously, do this with your partner, but sit down, in a quiet place, for an extended period of time and ask the hard questions.
Think about the breakthroughs that you could have if you really digested, dissected, and just dove into what your life’s priorities are and then how your money can help you achieve those priorities.
I’m biased, of course, but this seems like a fantastic application of Deep Work.
I can’t think of much else that is more important.
Big Decisions Deserve Your Best Deep Work
If we spend all of our time earning money, wouldn’t it be smart to spend a good bit of effort determining how we’re going to spend that money?
It determines how we will spend our time and what our life will be. It’s everything.
Money is time. You get to spend it twice: once is time to earn the money and once again when you spend the money. Don’t take those decisions lightly.
I encourage you to be very intentional about your own life priorities, and take the time—and do the deep work—of figuring out what’s most important to you. I think this is critical to our lives and our budgets and it is worth doing on at least an annual basis.
PS—I’m not getting paid for this Deep Work summary, I just honestly loved the book and think you will too.