100 Cal Newport Quotes (On Social Media, Deep Work, Solitude)

By Maxime Lagacé

Maxime is the founder of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

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cal newport quotes wisdom
I’ve gathered here 100 of the best Cal Newport quotes.


Because I’ve been feeling distracted, overwhelmed, and underproductive in the last few weeks.

So, as always, I opened my quote collection to find quotes, tips, and inspiration:

  • How to improve my focus?
  • How to ditch distractions?
  • What are the secrets to deep work?
  • How to spend less time on social media?

I also read 3 of his books: Deep Work, Digital Minimalism, and Slow Productivity (which I recommend).

So, are you ready to conquer your to-do list, find meaning, and unlock your true potential?

Let’s dive in!

Top 10 Cal Newport Quotes

cal newport quotes ability focus becoming century wisdom

The ability to focus is becoming the scarcest commodity of the 21st century. Cal Newport

Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not. Cal Newport

The ability to concentrate is a skill that must be trained. Cal Newport

To succeed with deep work you must rewire your brain to be comfortable resisting distracting stimuli. Cal Newport

The key to unlocking productive deep work is to make peace with boredom. Cal Newport

An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. Cal Newport

Incessant clicking and scrolling generates a background hum of anxiety. Cal Newport

Humans are not wired to be constantly wired. Cal Newport

Once you’re wired for distraction, you crave it. Cal Newport

A deep life is a good life. Cal Newport


Cal Newport Quotes On Social Media, Smartphones, Distractions

cal newport quotes distraction remains destroyer depth wisdom

Distraction remains a destroyer of depth. Cal Newport

The more time you spend “connecting” on these services, the more isolated you’re likely to become. Cal Newport

The ability to effectively manage one’s attention and time is becoming increasingly valuable in a world with an ever-growing number of distractions. Cal Newport

We eagerly signed up for what Silicon Valley was selling, but soon realized that in doing so we were accidently degrading our humanity. Cal Newport

Network tools are distracting us from work that requires unbroken concentration, while simultaneously degrading our capacity to remain focused. Cal Newport

Is Silicon Valley programming apps or are they programming people? Cal Newport

You can’t build a billion-dollar empire like Facebook if you’re wasting hours every day using a service like Facebook. Cal Newport

Our sociality is simply too complex to be outsourced to a social network or reduced to instant messages and emojis. Cal Newport

How tech companies encourage behavioral addiction: intermittent positive reinforcement and the drive for social approval. Cal Newport

Digital minimalism definitively does not reject the innovations of the Internet age, but instead rejects the way so many people currently engage with these tools. Cal Newport

The most productive people don’t let themselves be distracted by email, text messages, or social media notifications. Cal Newport

cal newport quotes checking likes smoking wisdom

Checking your “likes” is the new smoking. Cal Newport

Social media’s a double-edged sword. It can be great in moderation, but it can be toxic if it takes over too much of your life. Cal Newport

In many cases these addictive properties of new technologies are not accidents, but instead carefully engineered design features. Cal Newport

Spend some time away from your phone most days. This time could take many forms, from a quick morning errand to a full evening out, depending on your comfort level. Cal Newport

The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Cal Newport

No one ever changed the world, created a new industry, or amassed a fortune due to their fast email response time. Cal Newport

If aimed carefully, your attention can bring you great meaning and satisfaction. At the same time, however, hundreds of billions of dollars have been invested into companies whose sole purpose is to hijack as much of your attention as possible and push it toward targets optimized to create value for a small number of people in Northern California. Cal Newport (Source)

To leave the distracted masses to join the focused few, I’m arguing, is a transformative experience. Cal Newport

This is my main concern with large attention economy conglomerates like Twitter and Facebook: it’s not that they’re worthless, but instead it’s the fact that they’re engineered to be as addictive as possible. Cal Newport

We’re not evolved for digital life, which is why binges of online activities often leave us in a confused state of strung out exhaustion. Cal Newport

I’m yet to meet someone who feels exhilarated after an evening of trawling clickbait. Cal Newport

The urge to check Twitter or refresh Reddit becomes a nervous twitch that shatters uninterrupted time into shards too small to support the presence necessary for an intentional life. Cal Newport

The hot new technologies that emerged in the past decade or so are particularly well suited to foster behavioral addictions, leading people to use them much more than they think is useful or healthy. Cal Newport

Don’t use the Internet because you can, use it only when you have a good reason. Cal Newport



Cal Newport Quotes On Deep Work, Focus

cal newport quotes produce peak level work concentration wisdom

To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Cal Newport

Attention is scarce and fragile. Cal Newport

Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking. Cal Newport

The ability to focus without distraction is a superpower in the age of distraction. Cal Newport

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. Cal Newport

Focus on activities that are both meaningful and valuable, even if they’re not what everyone else is doing. Cal Newport

The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive. Cal Newport

Efforts to deepen your focus will struggle if you don’t simultaneously wean your mind from a dependence on distraction. Cal Newport

The key to unlocking deep work is to create systems and routines that make it easy for you to focus without distraction. Cal Newport

The ability to focus deeply on a task is becoming increasingly rare, and increasingly valuable in our economy. Cal Newport

Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love – is the sum of what you focus on. Cal Newport

What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore — plays in defining the quality of our life. Cal Newport


cal newport quotes fewer things natural pace quality wisdom

Do fewer things, work at a natural pace, and obsess over quality. Cal Newport

Human beings, it seems, are at their best when immersed deeply in something challenging. Cal Newport

This is a basic 80/20 analysis: doing less, but focusing on higher quality, can generate more total value. Cal Newport

Minimalists don’t mind missing out on small things; what worries them much more is diminishing the large things they already know for sure make a good life good. Cal Newport

The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration. Cal Newport

Real success today comes from deep work, from intense, valuable, creative effort that moves the needle. Cal Newport

The goal of deep work isn’t just to finish a task quickly, but to produce high-quality results. Cal Newport

There’s an administrative overhead that comes along with saying ‘yes’ to something: emails, standing meetings every Wednesday… If you say ‘yes’ to too many things, this overhead tax begins to pile up. Cal Newport

You can’t be busy and frenetic and bouncing off the walls with 100 projects if you’re obsessed about doing something really well. Cal Newport (Source)

To have a mission is to have a unifying focus for your career. Cal Newport

To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction. Cal Newport

Cal Newport Quotes On Productivity

cal newport quotes busyness produce value wisdom

Busyness doesn’t produce high value. Cal Newport

High-quality work produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus). Cal Newport

Slow productivity produces good stuff. It doesn’t just make the workers happier. Cal Newport

Shallow Work: Noncognitively 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. Cal Newport

If you service low-impact activities, therefore, you’re taking away time you could be spending on higher-impact activities. It’s a zero-sum game. Cal Newport

Constant context-switching is the number one mental health affliction of knowledge work. Cal Newport (Source)

Slow productivity is my attempt at creating a sophisticated ethic of doing work that you’re actually proud of… that’s important… that’s meaningful. Cal Newport

The central goal of slow productivity is to keep an individual worker’s volume at a sustainable level. Cal Newport (Source)

Working on fewer things, but doing each thing with more quality and accountability, can be the foundation for significantly more productivity. Cal Newport

Focus on the wildly important. Cal Newport

cal newport quotes abilities thriving economy wisdom

Two core abilities for thriving in the new economy. 1. The ability to quickly master hard things. 2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed. Cal Newport

Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work. Cal Newport

To remain valuable in our economy you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things. Cal Newport

Three to four hours a day, five days a week, of uninterrupted and carefully directed concentration, it turns out, can produce a lot of valuable output. Cal Newport

If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive — no matter how skilled or talented you are. Cal Newport

If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an “acceptable level”. Cal Newport

Cal Newport Quotes On Solitude, Boredom, Relaxation

cal newport quotes work hard done wisdom

When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done. Cal Newport

Thoreau once wrote: I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. Cal Newport

We need solitude to thrive as human beings, and in recent years, without even realizing it, we’ve been systematically reducing this crucial ingredient from our lives. Cal Newport

Trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day enough that you end up getting less done than if you had instead respected a shutdown. Cal Newport

Regular doses of solitude, mixed in with our default mode of sociality, are necessary to flourish as a human being. Cal Newport

To simply wait and be bored has become a novel experience in modern life, but from the perspective of concentration training, it’s incredibly valuable. Cal Newport

When you avoid solitude, you miss out on the positive things it brings you: the ability to clarify hard problems, to regulate your emotions, to build moral courage, and to strengthen relationships. Cal Newport

Solitude requires you to move past reacting to information created by other people and focus instead on your own thoughts and experiences — wherever you happen to be. Cal Newport

Three crucial benefits provided by solitude: new ideas; an understanding of the self; and closeness to others. Cal Newport

cal newport quotes brain quiet life wisdom

Give your brain the regular doses of quiet it requires to support a monumental life. Cal Newport

There’s nothing wrong with connectivity, but if you don’t balance it with regular doses of solitude, its benefits will diminish. Cal Newport

For the first time in human history solitude is starting to fade away altogether. Cal Newport

I don’t work after five thirty P.M. Cal Newport

Schedule shut down, complete. Cal Newport


More Cal Newport Quotes

cal newport quotes disciple depth shallow world wisdom

You’re a disciple of depth in a shallow world. Cal Newport

You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it. Cal Newport

Variations in intensity are completely compatible with killing it, with producing great stuff. Cal Newport

The most valuable form of mastery isn’t knowledge but the ability to think and work independently. Cal Newport

There’s value in taking time away from work to reflect on what you’ve done, to assess what you’ve learned, and to plan for the future. Cal Newport

We’re good, as humans, to committing to things that are positive. That’s very motivating for us. We’re bad at trying to avoid things that are negative. Cal Newport

The good news about deliberate practice is that it will push you past this plateau and into a realm where you have little competition. Cal Newport

The shallow work that increasingly dominates the time and attention of knowledge workers is less vital than it often seems in the moment. Cal Newport

Humans, deep down, are craftsmen. We find great satisfaction in creating something valuable that didn’t exist before. Cal Newport

cal newport


cal newport quotes good world reason solution wisdom

Do some good in the world for no other reason than wanting to be part of the solution. Cal Newport

Key Takeaways

  • Work deeply. Like Cal Newport, focus on intense, distraction-free work to achieve great results. Aim for 3-4 hours of daily deep work first thing in the morning. No phone and email before noon.
  • Simplify. Learn to remove stuff that is useless from your environment: toxic notifications, toxic projects, toxic meetings, papers, unfinished tasks that drain your energy, etc. Focus on one thing (the most important).
  • Work less. Like Cal Newport, when you work, work completely. But when you’re done, be done completely. Relax and unplug. Imagine yourself as an athlete: you need rest to reach your full potential.
  • Ditch distractions. You must become a master at ignoring the unimportant. Most things that will come your way will have nothing to do with your goal. The better you are at this, the more peaceful and productive you can be.
  • Aim for quality. Like they say, “Be obsessed or be average”. Learn to master a skill and take pride in the quality of your work. You’ll sleep better at night.

Visual About Deep Work And Shallow Work

cal newport quotes-visual deep work progress happiness shallow wisdom

To build your working life around the experience of flow produced by deep work is a proven path to deep satisfaction. Cal Newport

Further Readings

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Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, husband, and INFJ.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, bananas, SEO, human potential, and education.

You can find him on X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Last update

April 23, 2024

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