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Optimize Your Learning Curve with “Deep Work”

Are you doing Real Work or wasting your time with Pseudo-Work?

If you want to learn optimally, you just have to remember one equation made popular by Cal Newport:

Work Accomplished = Time Invested x Intensity

The ultimate goal is to minimize the time you invest in studying and maximize the intensity of study in order to optimize work accomplished.

Intensity is the most important variable!

If intensity is to be measured on a 1-10 scale, raising the intensity requires lowering the time investment to accomplish the same amount of work.

Let’s see this is in action:

30 hours of intense output = 10 hours x 3 level of intensity


30 hours of intense output = 3 hours x 10 level of intensity

Desired Result: More wisdom, less time!

Cal Newport classifies that Level 3 Intensity as “Pseudo-Work” aka “Kinda Working”. You may be checking your text messages, emails, or the latest social network pushing you real-time notifications.

He contrasts “Pseudo-Work” with “Deep Work” aka “Real Work”! This is the kind of work where 100% focus is required.

Hint: If you want to do “Deep Work” then start by turning off Push Notifications.

If you want to optimize your learning curve then you have to maximize the intensity of your study.

Q: When is the best time to do “Deep Work”?
A: Early. You have the best energy at the beginning of the day and the most control over your schedule.

Q: Where is the best place to do “Deep Work”?
A: In Isolation. To be super-focused, you have to get rid of all distractions. Be alone and unplugged!

Q: How long is the best amount of time for “Deep Work”?
A: 1 hour. Imagine working at 100% or Level 10 Intensity for 1 hour. You should be exhausted and in need of a break. So take one if even only for 5 minutes.