Our the ability to focus without distraction is becoming increasingly rare and valuable in our ever-connected world. Cal Newport calls this Deep Work and he contrasts it with shallow work:
High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
The New Law of Productivity states that the amount of knowledge you can create is limited by your ability to focus without distraction. This means that if you want to be productive, you need to be able to focus on one task at a time and avoid distractions.
This is in contrast to the traditional view of productivity, which is that productivity is about multitasking and getting as much done as possible in a short amount of time. An approach is not sustainable and that it actually leads to lower productivity in the long run.
Knowledge workers usually lack explicit indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable at work, so they turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing multiple tasks in a visible manner.
But doing lots of tasks is shallow work. Productivity for knowledge workers is about effectiveness not efficiency. Lots of corporate workers have become experts in effectively doing the wrong things.
Our ability to focus deeply is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice.
There are some things we can do:
In order to have a deep work routine, you have to decide the following:
It's important to have a shutdown ritual, to ensure that every incomplete activity has been reviewed and that for each you have confirmed that either you have a plan you will follow for its completion, or it’s wirrten down and saved in a place where it will be revisited.
“The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let’s face it, checking your “likes” is the new smoking.”
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein
Very important book, especially when we are bombarded with distractions.
Curious about different takes? Check out our Deep Work Summary book page to explore multiple unique summaries written by Deepstash users.
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