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31 STASHED IDEAS

Cal Newport
“What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.”
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@dr_elemento

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Self-Help Books

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Deep Work

by Cal Newport

Shallow Work

It is the low-value work that is done in a distraction-ful environment and most of the time it is done by multi-tasking. 

Shallow Work - 

  • Low productivity work.
  • Adds no improvement over time.
  • May be automated in near future.

If we continue to do more shallow work then our ability to perform deep work decreases over time. Here we use 'business' as a proxy to 'productivity'.

Deep Work

Definition: 'Professional activities performed in a distraction-free environment that pushes your cognitive abilities to their limit. Those efforts create new value, improve our skills, and hard to replicate.'

Deep work - 

  • Stretches your mind.
  • Gives meaning to your life
  • More valuable as it becomes scarce.
CAL NEWPORT
“If you service low-impact activities, therefore, you're taking away time you could be spending on higher-impact activities. It's a zero-sum game.”

There are 4 different methods for Deep Work -

  1. Monastic Deep Work
  2. Bimodal Deep Work
  3. Rhythmic Deep Work
  4. Journalistic Deep Work

Here you leave everything and go to somewhere you are disconnected from the world - live like a monk to focus only on one thing. (It is not always possible for everyone.)

In 1970 Bill Gates isolated himself from the world for 8 weeks and where he had created the first version of Microsoft which becomes a multi-billion dollar company right now.

"THINK WEEK" - Each year Bill Gates isolated himself from the world and do nothing but reading and think big thoughts.

#2 Bimodal Deep Work

This type of Deep work is for those who are not able to follow Monastic Approach. 

Here, when you need to perform Deep work you go to a separate place (which must a different place from where you spend most of your time) and do your work for 12-72 hours (not continuous!) and comes back to your regular life and repeat it until you have finished the work.

J K Rowling finished the last book of the Harry Potter series (Deathly Hallows) in a Hotel. She just went to that Hotel for writing the book.

#3 Rhythmic Deep Work

In this type of Deep work, you block a specific time each day in your calendar to perform Deep Work. At first, it may be 1-1.5 hours but when you start to do it regularly you can stretch it to 4 hours.

If possible try to schedule your time for early morning because if you complete your main task before doing anything others, then it will give you a confidence boost and also many people feel energetic in the morning.

#4 Journalistic Deep Work

Here you just work like a journalist - whenever any incident occurs you have to go. That means here you perform deep work whenever you get free time.

Cal Newport, the author of this book, uses this method for his work.

Here you are most free to do deep work any time. You can start doing Deep work by this method then you can convert it to the Rhythmic approach. 

CAL NEWPORT
“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.”
  1. Decide What is Deep Work for You: Which task you want to in 'Deep work' mode.
  2. Schedule Distractions: In your calendar set the times when you will check your phone or other distractions.
  3. Deep Work Ritual: Make deep work your daily habit. Keep a fixed time when you will do deep work.
  4. Evening Shut Down: In the evening plan your next day and write everything down that needs to do next (from your mind) and say "Shut Down Complete". Then detach from your work and enjoy the time with your loved one and have a good night's sleep.
  1. The ability to quickly master new things.
  2. The ability to produce at an elite level term in both quality and speed.

For both of these abilities, you have to do Deep Work.

Just try it as an experiment - 

  1. Quit all social media (e.g. Twitter, FB, Snapchat, Instagram) for 30 days.
  2. Don't tell anyone that you are doing it.

After 30 days ask yourself these 2 questions - 

  1. Would the last 30 days have been notably better if I had been able to use those services?
  2. Did people care that I wasn't using this service?

If any of the answers is 'NO' then quitting that service is good for you.

CAL NEWPORT
"Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.”
" Mentor " is not a relationship category
  • A mentor is someone who knows more than you or has vast experiences from which you can learn.
  • Many people wait to formally confer the title "mentor" before they begin a relationship.

In reality, this connection doesn't require a purity test to confirm the mentor/mentee arrangement.

Advisory relationships work best when they happen naturally, and fail when forced. Forget the labels and absorb wisdom from brilliant people in whatever form it comes.

Too many people end up disappointed when they realize their mentor has limits.

Even the strongest relationships have boundaries.

But just because a mentor doesn't want to take on risk, or circumnavigate the ninth circle of hell with you, doesn't invalidate the relationship.

A mentor should have knowledge to share, advice on certain experiences, personal stories relevant to yours, or ways of thinking that can influence your decision-making and problem-solving.

But rarely will a mentor be your confidante, emotional support system, knowledge base, brainstorm partner, and guidance counselor all at once.

"It is important for the mentee to prioritize discussing tactical and tangible issues the mentor can help solve."

Unless your mentor is a supervisor or someone senior in your organization, the expectation that he/she will make introductions and open doors is a romantic, but misguided, one.

Instead, mentors prefer empowering their mentees to carve out their own opportunities.

You are not worthy of mentorship just because you decide so. Mentorship is a two-way street, and a mentor wants to grow with her mentee.

A mentor needs to gain something from the interaction, whether it's a vicarious experience of exciting new projects.

A great mentor won't be interested in allocating time and energy to a protégé who doesn't promise a fun ride ahead.

Most people do not get to spend their lives doing whatever it is they love .

Instead, they do what they are told they should do, or what their parents or town or friends or peers suggest that they do. Or they simply pursue nothing close to their heart at all.

But if you want to “do what you love,” you need to see that as a privilege, not an expectation.

Whenever we suffer, especially for long periods of time, at first we believe it is because of something outside of us — something we hate. And if we make it past that emotion, we find below that hate is a rumble of anger, and certainly something we have held on to for far too long.

  • A fear of loss.
  • A fear of vulnerability.

But if you can get to the point of acknowledging the fear, you will see its lighthearted shadow, compassion.

When that action is replicated over the course of a week, you begin to scratch the surface of change.

When that action is replicated over the course of a month, you begin to notice a slight difference.

When that action replicated over the course of a year, or two years, or five years, you may no longer recognize yourself — you will have changed, in that particular way, completely.

Do not underestimate the power of each and every small habit, replicated over time.

You can practice self-awareness and humor, just as easily as you can practice anger, resentment, drama, and conflict.

Who you are, emotionally, is a reflection of the things you consciously (or unconsciously) practice.

You were not “born” upset.

You have merely practiced that emotion far more than you have, say, joy.

It is worth acknowledging that, at the end of the day, we all must provide for ourselves.

We all have our own dreams, goals, aspirations, families, close friends, and significant others, and we all want the same fundamental things.

You cannot expect them to put you before themselves. And trying to do so may work for a period of time, but eventually, the truth will rise to the surface.

Instead, make it a point to address and help others move toward their own dreams, as you request their help in moving toward yours.

It is entirely another to sacrifice your own well-being, and the well-being of those around you, for that goal and its achievement.

The high at the end is never worth the emotional strain that takes place to get there.

If you are not able to enjoy the journey with those around you, then the end goal will become meaningless.

  • The best ideas come through ease.
  • The best flow happens in moments of joy.

The human connection begins with laughter and to laugh while working or solving a problem is to be open to new possibilities.

Some people never learn this — they become grumpy and old.

Close relationships (with spouses, family, friends, community members) are the biggest factor keeping people happy throughout their lives, researchers discovered. People with strong relationships are happier, and physically and mentally healthier, than those who are less well-connected. (The researchers are still studying the connection between relationships and physical health -- there's evidence that good relationships result in lower levels of stress hormones, and less chronic inflammation.)

Other ingredients for a long and happy life include not smoking or abusing alcohol, exercising regularly and finding work-life balance, the Harvard study found. "Rather than just being your grandmother's good advice, there's real science behind this," Waldinger says. "You can quantify the number of years you'll live longer, if you do these things."

Find ways to perform small, random acts of kindness during your day. These acts can be incredibly simple, from complimenting a stranger at the grocery store on his or her shirt to making your spouse coffee before work to engaging a co-worker you don't usually talk with in a friendly Zoom chat. 

Deliberately performing random acts of kindness can make you feel happier and those acts you do for others has a longer-term effect on your own happiness. 

This works because these acts tap into your natural prosocial behavior, or the basic human impulse to help others, Simon-Thomas says. When you invest your own resources in the welfare of others, it activates your brain's reward system -- you feel good that you made the other person feel good. 

Expressing Gratitude

Writing down three things you're grateful for at the end of each day, and why they happened, leads to long term increases in happiness and decreases in depressive symptoms, according to a 2005 study from Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

It doesn't matter how large or small each thing is -- just write them down, in a notebook or your Notes app or wherever. 

The point is to train your mind to orient itself to the parts of your life that are good, instead of directing your attention to things that are stressful or irritating.

You may have already tried all those mindfulness apps. But exercises like meditation that teach your brain to focus on the present instead of the past or future can increase feelings of self-acceptance.

"The idea is to be present -- don't judge your emotions, but recognize them," says Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia.

(Another caveat: If you have PTSD, proceed with caution or check with your doctor first, as mindfulness exercises may be triggering, experts say, because they can unearth trauma.) 

Particularly in the West, people have adopted a propensity for self-criticism as a cultural value, and tend to self-punish when dealing with setbacks and failures, she says. But excessive self-criticism gets in the way of achieving your goals. 

There are three parts to practicing self-compassion, and they draw on some of the other exercises on this list: Be present in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or looking anxiously to the future.

Understand that setbacks are part of being human, and all people experience them. Cultivate a warm, supportive inner voice rather than a hostile, self-critical one. 

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