Last week we discussed the two foundational elements of achieving a performance-enhancing flow state — elimination of distraction and intense focus. This week, let’s talk about a new book from Cal Newport that helps you achieve those two vital conditions.
Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World presents the case against shallow work, defined as “noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted.” Too many people stay “busy” with shallow work all day long, and then wonder why things aren’t happening for them.
Here’s how Newport defines deep work:
- “Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.”
Moreover, Newport posits that this ability is the key to success in our modern economy:
- “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.”
I highly recommend you read the book in it’s entirety. In the meantime, here’s a taste of Newport’s four rules for modern business vitality.
- Rule #1: Work Deeply One simply cannot perform deep work (or achieve flow) with constant interruption. You must not only resolve to eliminate distractions, but also create processes and rituals to assure your ability to work deeply.
- Rule #2: Embrace Boredom Train your focus by flipping your current script: “Instead of scheduling the occasional break from distraction so you can focus, you should instead schedule the occasional break from focus to give in to distraction.”
- Rule #3: Quit Social Media This is the one you’re shaking your head at, but search your feelings … you know it to be true. Stepping away from the Internet’s crack pipe will allow for more intense focus than you think. Instead, schedule your Twitter-time as a couple of those daily breaks from focus, and adhere to that schedule religiously.
- Rule #4: Drain The Shallows Shallow work is busy work, and busy work by definition is not what matters. In the words of the great philosopher Tyler Durden: “No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”
I’d already realized that social media had become a compulsion that eats away at my true potential. Reading Deep Work sealed that for me, and I picked up some valuable tips in each of the other key areas as well. Again, highly recommended.
What’s My Age Again?
“What if there’s a better measure for age? A number that reflects how well your body is functioning as a whole, that predicts how rapidly you’re aging, that informs physicians when to expect medical issues, that aids the search for anti-aging therapies?”
I’m Feeling Lucky
Maybe you’re young for your age. Maybe you’re old for your age. Maybe you’re just old. Lucky you!
Do Cyborgs Dream of Hybrid Cars?
If you’re skeptical about this article, feel free to join your peeps in the comment section. Then again, my math teacher said I wouldn’t have the benefit of a calculator in my pocket when I grew up. It’s actually a supercomputer plus a calculator, Mrs. Collins.
Buy Low, Sell High
“Investing is not rocket science. The financial management industry spends billions every year in advertising and other forms of marketing, all geared to create the illusion that this investing business is a vicious dragon, shrouded in mystery, just waiting to pounce on you if you just dare to venture within a mile.”
Speaking of Which …
“With the benefit of decades of experience and data sets that go back more than a century, there are some lessons that every new investor should take to heart.” Feel free to ignore the “content marketing” aspect of this, the advice is solid on its own.
If You Don’t Ask …
Excellent case study of how the boss you have today may help you tomorrow, even after you’ve left the company. This is assuming, of course, that your boss isn’t a narrow-minded jackass.
“If you find yourself lost in the woods, f*ck it, build a house. ‘Well, I was lost but now I live here! I have severely improved my predicament!'” ~ Mitch Hedberg
Think First, Then Do
Finally, someone gets the flip-side of procrastination … sometimes you just haven’t thought about it enough to do it well. “You call it procrastination, I call it thinking.” ~ Aaron Sorkin
If you’d like to get into meditation but can’t seem to start, please don’t go out spending money on a guru and/or various spiritual paraphernalia. It really is the simplest thing, and this article will get you started (and it’s written by someone who knows what’s up).
That’s it for this week … let’s all go do some deep work. Before you tune it all out, maybe share Further with someone who might enjoy it? (Thank you!)