Cal Newport is the author of two of the most influential books I have ever read in my quest to become more productive: Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. Both books really shaped my view on using social media, leading a productive life, and eliminating non-essentials. I am also an ardent listener of his podcast – Deep Questions with Cal Newport. In episode 252: The Deep Life Stack, cal elaborates on what he calls “The Deep Life Stack,” an approach to cultivating a deep life that starts with overhauling the person before making the big decisions. I found the idea to be very compelling and a great tool to lead a more productive life.
Cal is an MIT-trained computer science professor at Georgetown University who also writes about the intersections of technology, work, and the quest to find depth in an increasingly distracted world.
What is Deep Life?
In his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal defined Deep Work as professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
Deep Work is the opposite of Shallow work which is more rampant in our age of social media use. Cal defined Shallow Work as non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.
The Deep Life Stack
The Deep Life Stack is an approach to cultivating a deep life that starts with overhauling the person before making big decisions. I found the idea to be very compelling and a great tool to lead a more productive life.
Components of the Deep Life Stack
- Discipline as an identity
You have to be able to change your identity to someone that can persist with working on things that are difficult at the moment, in pursuit of a greater good down the line.
- A Route
A place to keep track of everything that you have committed to do in your life, your rules, systems, and goals – a folder, drawer, journal etc
Establish what it is that is important to you, what are the truths that exist rooted just outside of your own preferences around which you are going to structure your life. Committing to what is important to you.
Components of Values
This is the code that I live by. I strive to do this, I will never do this, I have integrity, I am honest, etc I have a code by which I live and all of my decisions are going to come back to make sure they satisfy this code.
Some rituals that you commit to such as reading books, going to the gym, meditating etc It reinforces your priorities, and things you value and take seriously.
Things you do on a regular basis that ensure that you are supporting these values that you have encoded in your code. Religion makes it easy to figure out – Codes, Rituals, and Routines. Everything you encoded in the code section would be recorded in the route section of the discipline layer.
Safety net foundation: Discipline and Values
The goal of calm is to gain control over your life, and leverage that control to give yourself breathing room. Here you start thinking about personal and organizational productivity systems.
How do I manage my time?
With control, you can see the relationship between your implicit workload and your schedule
If you don’t control your life, you won’t be able to attend to the disciplines and your values.
This is where you divide your life into the major areas that are important to you and start to think through what do I want your life to look like in each of these areas.
All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.