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How to Use Deep Work to Ignite Your Productivity and Get More Done in Less Time

Shallow work

The non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted, tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Use Deep Work to Ignite Your Productivity and Get More Done in Less Time

How to Use Deep Work to Ignite Your Productivity and Get More Done in Less Time

https://foundr.com/deep-work-principles/

foundr.com

11

Key Ideas

What Deep Work Is

A process of performing “professional activities…in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” - Cal Newport

Historically, psychologists used to refer to deep work as “being in the flow."

Shallow work

The non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted, tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

Recognizing our limited willpower

...is the first element of deep work.

That means you won’t have the mental discipline to stay concentrated on a single task unless you prepare your mind and environment to it.

Cal Newport

Cal Newport

"The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration."

Organize Your Deep Work

  1. Develop a deep work schedule and routine: A systematic way of getting in that deep work mindset is to develop a routine in which you always perform the task in the same place and time, for a given time frame.
  2. Work on what matters: At the end of the day, you should be acting like an executive, working towards your goals in a professional, consistent manner.
  3. Accept laziness: While the results should lead to higher productivity levels, your ultimate goal is to have more time for yourself. Enjoy your “lazy” time".

To work on what matters...

  1. Identify a small number of ambitious outcomes to pursue with your deep work hours
  2. Find your lag (the goal you’re trying to achieve) and lead metrics (the behaviors you’ll do to reach the goal)
  3. Develop a scoreboard where you track your time spend in a state of deep work
  4. Analyze the results and be accountable for the results, always working to hit the metrics you had previously identified

Deep Work

 ... is all about taking your existing time spent working and concentrating it to make the most out of it. 

But it’s not that you have to do more things in less time. Instead, it’s about getting more out of the tasks you normally do by reducing distractions. Deep Work is about working smarter, not harder.

Concentrate Your Energy

  1. Take breaks: instead of trying to get rid of distractions, you should concentrate the energy you put into them during set breaks.
  2. Schedule tight deadlines: pick your most important tasks, the ones that require deep work, and then you schedule them in a shorter time span than you normally would.
  3. Meditate: set a scheduled break which you dedicate to physical activity, like walking or driving, focusing your attention on a specific problem as you carry out the former.

Quit Social Media

But instead of denying their use completely, use the  “Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection.” This means that you copy the way craftsman pick tools: they use the ones with positive impacts that outweigh the negative impacts if you are a Facebook Ads marketer,  use Facebook. If you have found the use of LinkedIn helps you attract traffic and leads to your site, the same idea applies.

But if you can’t find a positive outcome from the use of a social media channel, quit it.

Eliminate Shallow Time

  1. Schedule all your activities: schedule your day before you start it and organize your work — both deep and shallow.
  2. Finish your workday early: cutting off your working time early will put your mind in “scarcity mode,” pushing you to finish it in less time than usual.

Become Hard to Reach

If you want to find time for your deep work, close all your distractions—email, Slack, phone, internet connection—and work until you’re done. Then reconnect to the world.

The strategy is effective for the simple reason that you’re forcing yourself to do your work — you give yourself no choice but to work.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The new law of productivity

High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)

Deep work vs. Shallow work
  • Deep work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. Creates value.
  • Shallow work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. Doesn't create value.
4 philosophies to integrate Deep Work into your life
  • Monastic: maximize Deep Work by minimizing or removing shallow obligations. Isolate yourself for long periods of time without distractions; no shallow work allowed
  • Bimodal: divide your time into some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leave the rest open to everything else. Reserve a few consecutive days when you will be working like a monastic. You need at least one day a week
  • Rhythmic: involves creating a routine where you define a specific time period — ideally three to four hours every day — that you can devote to Deep Work
  • Journalistic: alternate your day between deep and shallow work as it fits your blocks of time. Not recommended to try out first.

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Time Blocking

Is a simple productivity exercise and means using your calendar to block time for your most important priorities

During that time, you only work on that one thing. This way, you...

Cal Newport
Cal Newport
I take time blocking seriously, dedicating ten to twenty minutes every evening to building my schedule for the next day. During this planning process I consult my task lists and calendars, as well as my weekly and quarterly planning notes. My goal is to make sure progress is being made on the right things at the right pace for the relevant deadlines.”
Tips for time blocking
  • Take 10 minutes every evening and plan your next day. Rearrange blocks if you must create time for other important things.
  • Use recurring blocks for recurring tasks.
  • Don’t over-schedule. Realistically, you can’t be productive 10 hours straight. Give yourself some time between tasks.
  • And always schedule more time than you think you need.
Time blocking
Time blocking

It's the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.

When you fill your c...

Time blocking and focus

By scheduling every minute of your day you not only guard against distraction but also multiply your focus.

Also, focusing on one task at a time can make you up to 80% more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks.

Cons of the time blocking practice
  • It takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Few of us (if any) have the same schedule every day.
  • We’re bad at estimating how long tasks will take to do.
  • Constant interruptions and “urgent” tasks can destroy your system.
  • Flexibility is key in most workplaces.
  • You can lose sight of the bigger picture if you focus just on each day.

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The 2 kinds of work :
  • Deep work”: using your skills to create something of value. It takes thought, energy, time and concentration.
  • Shallow work”: all the little administrative and logist...
Cal Newport
Cal Newport

"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. "

Cal Newport on time management
  • Don’t schedule distractions. Schedule deep work.
  • Keep a scoreboard for deep work: The point is to shame yourself if you’re not up to snuff.
  • Stop saying “yes” to unimportant stuff;
  • Have a “Deep Work Ritual”: Hiding in a conference room and throwing your phone into an abyss is a good one.
  • Ask your boss how much time they want you spending on deep vs shallow work: If they say “100% shallow”, feel free to ignore everything above.
  • Cal Newport on better managing time
    • To-Do lists are useless. Schedule everything.
    • Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
    • ...
    The Flow State

    Flow happens when we hit a rhythm and our work hums optimally; when we find "the zone" of productivity. It’s a state that’s easily disrupted by distractions but can be achieved and sustained...

    Tactics To Get Into Flow
    • Separate some time to deep pursuits and leave the rest open to everything else. Channel your inner monastic for a limited stretch of time. Afterwards, return to regular accessibility.
    • Remove the obstacles of “when” and “where” by setting a time and a place for deep work, and making it a habit.
    • When you need to do deep work on demand: fit it into your schedule whenever you can. Developing the ability to "switch on" your deep work muscles is less challenging than dedicating the free time to purposeful work.
    Not having a plan

    We are spending more of our time in environments that have their own agendas. Most of the entities in our lives really want us to make mistakes in their favor.

    Not having a plan, goal...

    Control your environment

    ... or it will control you. We can’t control our environment everywhere we go, but we have more control than we usually choose to exercise.

    If you banish distractions and control your calendar you can make sure your environment is ripe for productivity.

    Write everything down

    We all know how fallible our brains can be yet we routinely trust ourselves to remember and follow through on things.

    If it’s important, write it down. Reminders, post-its, and calendars are all good tools.

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    Cal Newport

    “Don’t take breaks from distraction. Instead take breaks from focus.”

    Cal Newport
    The way our mind works

    Our brains are wired to work on tasks serially, and not in parallel. This means that we are not wired for multitasking - we are good at focusing on one thing at a time.

    The problem is, there are so many distractions these days that we've unconsciously trained our brains to not be good at focusing.

    Doing one thing at a time

    Commit to what you want to study on a particular day, or for a few hours. Limit the number of tasks/distractions/subjects so that you keep your intense focus and actually complete the tasks you started.

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    Zen to Done (ZTD)

    It's a productivity system that teaches how to take a simple approach to improving your productivity, by encouraging you to focus on forming one productivity-boosting habit at a time. 

    The Minimalist Habits of Zen to Done
    • Collect: Get ideas and to-dos out of your brain and onto a list.
    • Process: Review your list daily and decide how to act on each item.
    • Plan: Pick a few high priority items to accomplish each week and every day.
    • Do: Schedule time to accomplish your selected to-dos without interruptions.
    The Collect Habit

    To clear your mind and improve focus, get your ideas and to-dos out of your mind and onto a list. 

    Documenting to-dos in the moment lessens the likelihood that you'll forget to do something and gives you a master list of to-dos to reference when you're trying to decide where to direct your time.

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    Ruthless prioritization

    It means deciding not to do things you'd really like to do. It also means deciding what's the most important task even when everything on your list feels crucial.

    But if you can prioritize...

    Consolidate All of Your Tasks Into a Single Source

    To-dos arrive from a variety of sources. Your boss sends you an email, you get a Slack message from IT, a bill arrives in the mail, or a coworker asks for a favor in the hallway.

    In order to prioritize your task list efficiently, you need a master to-do list that contains all of the tasks you need to prioritize and complete from all of those sources.

    Analyze Your Task List

    Go through your list, review each task, and decide what you want to do with it. You have 4 options:

    • Do: complete the task now
    • Defer: complete it later
    • Delegate: assign it to someone else
    • Delete: remove it from your list

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