Ever since I spoke with Cal Newport about the rules for focused success in a distracted world, and read his most recent book, I’ve become an evangelist for deep work. It’s enabled me to:
- Finish a 45,000-word manuscript in 6 months
- Read more than 100 books in a year
- Write 100’s of articles, while also working on a book
The more deep work I do, the more I’m convinced of its effectiveness. And it’s something that helps you to get far more done in far less time.
Attention Management vs Time Management
Most of our time management issues are really attention management issues. When you spend a significant amount of your day task shifting every 15 minutes, even if you’re not multitasking, you’re not being effective.
When you turn your attention from one target to another, the original target leaves a “residue” that reduces cognitive performance for a non-trivial amount of time to follow. If like most, you rarely go more than 10–15 minutes without a just check, you have effectively put yourself in a persistent state of self-imposed cognitive handicap. The flip side, of course, is to imagine the relative cognitive enhancement that would follow by minimizing this effect. — Cal Newport
If you can manage one focused hour of uninterrupted creation time, a good amount of your time management issues will be solved.
The Power of Being Fully Engaged
When we do deep work and focus on one thing for an extended period of time, we become fully engaged in the activity at hand.
If I have Facebook, slack, TweetDeck or email open when I’m editing an episode of The Unmistakable Creative, it takes more than an hour. If I have nothing open, I can usually finish everything in under 30 minutes.
This is something that I’ve noticed in nearly every one of my daily activities from writing to responding to email. When we’re fully engaged in something we’re able to finish that thing in far less time.
Deep Work Reduces Anxiety
When we’re shifting from one thing to another and binging on dopamine, it’s a recipe for anxiety. Try this little experiment. Turn off all notifications and avoid all social media for a day. When you get to the end of the day, you’ll notice a significant difference in your anxiety level. And less anxiety results in better focus, which in turn enables you to get more done in less time.
Cal’s TEDx talk on Deep work is easily on of the most valuable things I’ve seen this year. It’s an investment of 15 minutes that you’ll be glad you made.
When you spend your days on things of depth, you feel more satisfied, you have less anxiety, and you’re happier and healthier. Deep work doesn’t just help you get more done in less time. It significantly improves the quality of your life.
Before You Go…
If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.”
The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.
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