This book is for anyone who wants to regain productivity, make better use of their time, and learn hard skills – those that will be most valued in tomorrow’s world.
Our “attention economy” is aptly named. This resource that we all possess is captured by companies as the basis of their marketing strategy. In a world where attention has become a scarce commodity, it is very difficult to focus and free up blocks of time to work effectively. Those who manage to do well in this environment will be the most successful in the future. Let’s take a look at what deep work is and how to achieve it each day.
Deep work is usually no more than 4 hours a day. It is work done without distractions and with a high level of attention (often in a state of flow). Typically, deep work cannot be done in parallel with another activity. This is why Cal Newport distinguishes it from shallow work.
A common idea is that of multitasking, which allows you to do more activities at the same time. Multitasking is a delusion because it keeps you at a low level of concentration. In such circumstances, you are misusing your time and energy. It is important to avoid multi-tasking at all costs or your efficiency will be greatly reduced.
According to the author, in the future there will be 3 categories of people who will be successful in the professional sphere
Highly skilled workers in the technology sector: those who are able to communicate well with machines.
Superstars: the undisputed leaders of their industry. In the “winner takes all” logic, the other competitors only share the crumbs of the cake. So you have to think about dominating a market or looking for another niche to dominate. This logic is particularly true in the digital world.
Capital owners: those who already have significant capital will be able to continue to invest and consolidate their position of dominance in different markets.
If you do not belong to the last category, it is only through deep work that you will be able to establish yourself either as a leader in your market or as a highly specialized worker.
It takes time to get into a deep work state. Before you start working, you must clearly define the framework of your work (define your objectives) and put yourself in conditions that make deep work possible (turn off the phone, close the door, work in an office that has no visual distractions).
To “refuel” your cognitive capacities after a deep work session, you can take advantage of a contact with nature if you can. Indeed, studies show that contact with trees, the sea or the mountains for example allows you to make a real break. If you don’t have the opportunity, you can take a nap or go to a park for some fresh air.
4 principles to put into practice
Practice deep work
One of the first things to do is to practice deep work regularly. You will improve with practice. You need to create automatisms that will easily put you in a deep work state. To do this, you can define a ritual that consists of a sequence of tasks that will almost automatically put you in a state of deep concentration. For example, you can define the following actions: get up at 4 o’clock (by getting up early you eliminate most of the distractions), take a cold shower, drink an orange juice and start working directly. It’s up to you to decide which sequence of actions suits you best.
We live in a world that fears boredom. It is this fear that makes most people rush to their cell phones in a never-ending quest for entertainment of all kinds. Don’t be like everyone else. Learn to tame boredom. Get comfortable with doing nothing. Train your brain not to be in a superficial state. To do this, you need to reconnect with activities that seem boring to many today, the first of which is reading.
Cut out social networks
Social networks do not work in your interest. They are there to distract you from your goals. They train your brain to think superficially, which reduces your ability to concentrate. If you can’t stop using social media altogether, just keep it to a minimum and try not to use it for a period of time.
Channel parasitic activities
There are other activities that sap your cognitive abilities as much and yet you are forced to do them every day. These include answering emails, making phone calls, attending meetings etc. Try as much as possible to eliminate these activities. If you can’t, do them in blocks of time. For example, answer your emails, twice a day only for 15 min each time.
Other interesting ideas to remember:
Practice the art of disconnection: be unreachable for set periods of time. This will eliminate distractions and you will teach your contacts to communicate with you in a different way.
To increase your ability to go into a deep work state, give yourself half the time to complete a task you used to do
Use your body to solve a problem: go to the gym with a particular problem in mind. Often, physical activity will generate new ideas.
Use software to quantify your deep work activities (toogl.com)