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. (Location 61)

As Brynjolfsson and McAfee point out, postwar Europe was an example of a bad time to be sitting on a pile of cash, as the combination of rapid inflation and aggressive taxation wiped out old fortunes with surprising speed (what we might call the “Downton Abbey Effect”). (Location 310)

If you want to become a superstar, mastering the relevant skills is necessary, but not sufficient. You must then transform that latent potential into tangible results that people value. (Location 362)

Ericsson opens his seminal paper on the topic with a powerful claim: “We deny that these differences [between expert performers and normal adults] (Location 391)

are immutable… Instead, we argue that the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.” (Location 392)

High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus) (Location 455)

We should not, therefore, expect the bottom-line impact of depth-destroying behaviors to be easily detected. As Tom Cochran discovered, such metrics fall into an opaque region resistant to easy measurement—a region I call the metric black hole. (Location 622)

The Principle of Least Resistance: In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment. (Location 649)

meetings for projects. These meetings tend to pile up and fracture schedules to the point where sustained focus during the day becomes impossible. Why do they persist? They’re easier. (Location 667)

The Principle of Least Resistance, protected from scrutiny by the metric black hole, supports work cultures that save us from the short-term discomfort of concentration and planning, at the expense of long-term satisfaction and the production of real value. (Location 676)

Busyness as Proxy for Productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner. (Location 715)

that in the absence of clear goals for your job, the visible busyness that surrounds shallow work becomes self-preserving, and that our culture has developed a belief that if a behavior relates to “the Internet,” then it’s good—regardless of its impact on our ability to produce valuable things. (Location 787)

All of these trends are enabled by the difficulty of directly measuring the value of depth or the cost of ignoring it. (Location 789)

From this perspective, the small-scale details of how you spend your day aren’t that important, because what matters are the large-scale outcomes, such as whether or not you get a promotion or move to that nicer apartment. According to Gallagher, decades of research contradict this understanding. Our brains instead construct our worldview based on what we pay attention to. (Location 856)

and dark, but if you focus instead on an evening martini, you and your life become more pleasant—even though the circumstances in both scenarios are the same. (Location 859)

“Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.” (Location 860)

Stanford psychologist Laura Carstensen, to name one such example, used an fMRI scanner to study the brain behavior of subjects presented with both positive and negative imagery. She found that for young people, their amygdala (a center of emotion) fired with activity at both types of imagery. When she instead scanned the elderly, the amygdala fired only for the positive images. Carstensen hypothesizes that the elderly subjects had trained the prefrontal cortex to inhibit the amygdala in the presence of negative stimuli. These elderly subjects were not happier because their life circumstances were better than those of the young subjects; they were instead happier because they had rewired their brains to ignore the negative and savor the positive. By skillfully managing their attention, they improved their world without changing anything concrete about it. (Location 869)