Georgetown computer science professor Cal Newport serves as a major inspiration to me. He is an incredibly prolific academic, and he reached this level of professional success with stunning speed. This, however, is only his day job. Cal Newport is a highly successful author of over 5 popular titles relating to technology, productivity, career strategy, success, and college life; he also maintains a regular blog that supplements these books.
I have read three of these books including How to Win at College, How to Be a Straight-A Student, and Deep Work. I have read Deep Work and How to Win at College twice, and I have plans to revisit them again later. Additionally, I am currently in the middle of reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You, a career advice book. He also has a new book coming out February 5th called Digital Minimalism, and I anxiously await its arrival (I preordered in November).
I was initially exposed to Newport’s work in two ways. First, an ambitious friend of mine recommended the book Deep Work. Second, a popular blog I follow, “College Info Geek”, cites multiple Cal Newport books in the blog’s recommended books for students list. Intrigued by the summary of Deep Work, I chose to start there. After reading Deep Work, I was hooked on Newport’s ideology.
Cal Newport stands out to me in his unending analysis of his own habits and performance. He constantly seeks creative and contrarian methods to consistently accomplish major life goals and produce high volumes of quality work regularly. He uses himself as an experiment in achieving maximal effectiveness and clearly communicates his findings. I credit much of my academic success up to this point to many of his tips and tricks.
Newport has achieved a few goals that are in line with my own. First, he graduated with a BS in computer science with a high GPA. As an undergraduate studying computer science, this clearly is a relevant accomplishment to me. Beyond that, he published great books early in his adult life, some while still in college. Although I am not set on becoming an author, I admire his commitment to material achievement outside the traditional expectations of a young adult.
In general, he seems to have maintained a high level of personal fulfillment and success throughout college and into his early career, and that is exactly the path I intend on continuing myself.
Newport is transparent in his methods for getting to this point in life, and they are brutally straight forward. He swears by diligent, distraction free, deeply focused work, conscientious personal habits toward time management, scheduling, and organization, and an intentional and enforced balance of hard work with relaxation and rest. He uses his books to communicate the specific ways he achieves these goals.
For the past year or so, I have actively worked to integrate his methods and philosophies into my life and have seen great reward for it. I plan to continue to read and reread his work for continued inspiration into what is possible and for a source of novel ways to achieve my goals.
(Written January, 2019)