Reading Cal Newport's Deep Work tells us there are two kinds of work, Shallow work and Deep work.
Shallow work are those things we do that don't require a lot of thinking or our time, e.g taking phone calls, replying emails, scrolling through social media while Deep Work are those things that are done in complete isolation, with no distraction.
Shallow work is low value work, anyone can do it and as you engage in more shallow work, you forget how to engage in deep work, shallow work becomes a habit.
Many good things we have today are as a result of Deep Work. In the age of social media, our focus span has been shortened, in fact, our focus is an endangered specie.
But in an aggressively competitive world, demanding our attention left, right and center, the ability to shut out all distractions and focus on producing, rather than just consuming is almost a super power, the good thing about this is, it's like a cheat code to getting ahead. While others scroll away on twitter, facebook or swipe stories on snapchat, you are buried in deep work, playing the long game.
Social media does have it's benefits, but we are seeing that the downsides outweigh the upsides ( that is subjective to some people, based on how you make use of it).
How do we engage in deep work?
1. Cut of Social Media - I didn't say delete your account, but trust me, if you're offline, the world will still move on, just like when you are dead. Go off, come back, social media will still be there. I don't have snapchat, I use instagram sparingly, TBH I think I didn't use IG and Snap earlier because I didn't think I was handsome enough to show my face there, and now it's a good thing I will likely not be using them. It is hard, but you can do it, just resolve to.
2. Schedule Things - Only the things that get scheduled get done. Google Calendar is a really powerful tool if you decide to leverage it well. Set targets and bury yourself deep into them until you achieve them. Apart from using google calendar, I have found that Notion.so works so well in helping me organize my life. Their templates are godsent.
3. Drop your phone: We all agree that our phones are huge distractions, but we can't seem to drop them, to be honest, we can all lose count of how many times our phones have distracted us from doing something. One thing I am learning now is to keep my phone away while eating, I seem to have sorted that part out while working. The world won't end if you drop your phone. I know some people who leave their phones in another room while they sleep in the other.
4. Keep Track of Shallow Work: How many times do you check your email in a day, are your notifications distracting? What can you do about them? Keep track of them, optimize how you use them and be deliberate about it.
5. Imaginary Other You: I didn't know how to word this better, but here's what I mean, I have this other me, with the same goals, who is always working, when I am doing nothing, I feel like the person is outworking me, so I make sure I learn something new everyday, or do something useful just so I catch up. Some of us do better with competition really, we can't deny that. We are unserious until we see someone outdoing us, then we put in the work. I am in a healthy competition with the imaginary me, he is winning so far, I lazy.
One technique you can use to work is the Pomodoro Technique.
You break down your task into time slots and take breaks. E.g if you have a work that will likely take 5 hrs you complete, you can break it in blocks of 25 mins, 25mins of deep work, no distraction, 5-10mins to refresh your mind, take a walk and then get back to it, works like magic.
Also you are responsible for creating the environment to help you perform deep work, for me the night is the best time to do deep work, I go to bed by 5am, up by 8am and I do less tasking work during the day, such as code reviews, a few bug fixes, documentation, research etc, then write the code in the night. For some people it's another style. Find your style and double down on it. We need your genius.
Deep Work is a great read, you will pick up a lot of life changing advice just reading and applying the book, from what I have applied so far, the results have been amazing. At the end of the day, all these lessons compound to make you a more productive individual.