We live in a distracted world, where the availability and prevalence of electronic communication and social media has eliminated or decreased employment that requires knowledge.
For example, Carl Jung bought a meditation cabin in Switzerland without having the money. J.K. Rowling only had a Twitter account after 2009 at the height of social media. And many others eliminated constant electronic interference to get “Deep Work” done.
There are two reasons deep work is valuable.
- Learning – you must master the art of learning complex and difficult things quickly.
- If you want to create something of tremendous value, the best things require deep work. Customers can always go somewhere else if the work only requires shallow effort.
Deep work is becoming more valuable just at the time when its supply is lessening.
There are three types of people who will thrive in the new economy of today:
- Those that can adapt to machine learning,
- Those that are best in their field
- Those that have access to capital
How to thrive:
- The ability to quickly master hard things
- The ability to perform at the highest of levels in terms of quality and speed
High-quality work equals time spent at high level of focus.
The very best students understood that the intensity of your study trumps the number of hours you put in to study.
If we are multitasking while trying to do deep work, there’s a residue, a certain level of attention leftover from the previous task that enters the new task. This absolutely kills your productivity and level of deep work intensity.
However, like Jack Dorsey (CEO of Twitter), there are those types who work in positions that don’t require deep work. They require constant connections, like lobbyists, executives, and salesman.
Open concept floor plans and office instant messaging is the new normal – maximizing speed and collaboration but the results is massive distraction. Attention fragmentation.
We tend toward behaviors that are easier in the moment (email, text, social media). People look for the easiest answer to their questions, rather than developing the learning ability to find your own answers. The law of least resistance. This principle drives us toward shallow work in a world that rewards depth. Getting Things Done by Allen describes this in-depth.
Busy-ness as a proxy for productivity
How well you do as a professor in the academic world boils down to one question, “are you publishing important papers?” This requires deep work.
One famed physicist avoided any administrative duties, actively telling others he was “irresponsible,” because he knew that unadulterated time for thought was necessary for research.
Middle managers struggle with this since much of their jobs revolve around vague imperatives and not as Shop Class for Soul Craft author states as the feeling of tangible evidence of a job completed. Managers have no evidence of their work.
In the absence of indicators of productivity, many knowledge workers fall back to the route of least resistance that shows them as visibly busy: email, meetings, social media.
Knowledge work is not an assembly line.
Deep Work is meaningful.
Who you are, what you think, what you do, what you love, is the sum of what you focus on. Focus leverages a significant impact on your outlook – ignore the negative, focus on the positive.
Your world is what you pay attention to.
Flow – people think relaxation makes them happy. However, jobs are easier to enjoy than free time. The best moments usually occur when the person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to achieve something difficult and worthwhile. They have built-in goals. Free time is unstructured.
We have a finite amount of willpower and constant distraction with email and social media which leads to reducing deep work.
Jerry Seinfeld’s chain method: Seinfeld wrote jokes every day and for each day he did, he crossed off the day on a calendar, leading to a long chain of crossed-off days.
Leverage change of location like a library or hotel to get things done deeply. Jk Rowling stayed at a 5-star hotel to complete The Deathly Hallows.
Look into lead metrics versus lag metrics. Lead metrics are this which measures short term marks towards the end goal. Lag measures are those that mark what you’ve done. For example, the author’s lag measure was his amount of papers written per year while his lead measure was the amount of time he took every day to write.
Keep a scorecard of the amount of deep work you do.
Attack your task with every free brain cell you have.
Productive meditation is where you’re occupied physically, but not mentally (running, walking, lifting). This frees up your mind from deep thinking to the subconscious. It allows test from mental focus.