Sunday, April 25, 2021

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work has a very simple theoretical base: knowledge workers need "Deep" concentrated work to be the most productive. Many of the things that we spend our time doing in the day distract from this. Email interrupts our chain of thought. We feel the desire to respond immediately to things that come up. We are also consumed with other easy shallow work tasks and activities from booking travel to following news and social media. Many of these bits of "shallow work" are not bad in themselves. However, they do not help us to achieve our goals. The author proposes that instead of evaluating these tasks for "goodness", we instead put a harder criteria. Is this needed for achieving my goals? Is this better use of my time than other things. Many of the shallow tasks we think we need may not be so necessary after all. Responding to emails at all hours is something that is often thought to be important but usually proves not to matter. We can also reign in our availability. Be willing to say no. Give actionable responses to prevent endless back and forth. 

Deep work can be hard and mentally draining. It can also be difficult to find time to do it. There are different strategies that can be used appropriately allocate our time. By being more cognisant of how we are using our time, we can ensure we are making better use of it. We often think we have a shortage of time only to find we spend most of our time multitasking among unimportant tasks. I have had experiences where just planning a few important things to do can be extremely helpful. It becomes easy to accomplish everything with focus. Without the focus, there is a tendency to waffle around  and get distracted - and not accomplish nearly as much. There is still a need to do many of the "shallow" tasks. However, by prioritizing deep work, much more can be accomplished in less time.

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