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Good rituals can be done quickly, on-demand, and help you get into focus. Pairing a consistent routine with focused work can help to direct your mind into a state of productivity. But rituals can also prevent you from moving into focused work and instead become a tool for procrastination.
Wearing headphones can block out some of the ambient sounds and create a subtle barrier to being interrupted.
Regular headphones with some sounds playing will also do the trick. But researchers found listening to music with lyrics caused a decline in performance while white noise wasn't found to have the same impact.
For any focused work session, we should prevent the distractions we can control.
We often struggle with internal distractions. We get restless, bored, frustrated, or anxious about the task.
The best way to handle these emotions is to plan what exactly you will work on, how you will work on it, and what steps you will follow. Once you have a plan, getting started is easy.
Consistently picking the same space for focused work will condition your brain to enter the right state of mind.
You can also pick focused spaces that limit the kind of unfocused work you can do. If you don't need the internet for your task, pick a spot without internet access to boost your focus.
Keep a time log of when you do focused work throughout the day. It makes focus more noteworthy than the feeling of being busy all day.
Writing down the starting time of a deep work session sets the intention to work deeply and makes tracking your hours easier.
Anxiety is a cause of procrastination. You feel your upcoming work will be difficult, so you find a way to distract yourself.
Sometimes your anxiety stems from the standard you expect from yourself. You need to do a practice test, but you don't feel you've mastered the material. You want to write an essay but have no ideas. A good response is to simply lower your standards for now. Be okay with writing a draft you'll throw away just to get the ideas out. A good first step is just to show up, reminding yourself that giving yourself space to focus is more important than an arbitrary standard.
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"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. "
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Rituals are repeated behaviors (like routines). However, they’re deeply personal and are imbued with deeper meaning beyond just a sequence of actions. They mark a change, a switch in task or moment of importance. And it’s those symbolic actions performed at key moments that help us move through the day smoothly.
A routine is a series of regularly followed actions. There are few things that impact your daily productivity, career trajectory, and overall well-being as much as your routines. What’s important isn’t the exact nature of your routine, but that you have one and stick to it.