The book is about how to build a deep focus mode that we can use for our work.
What is Deep Work?
Deep work: a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. As opposed to Deep Work, Shallow Work is non-cognitively demanding, the tasks can be done while distracted.
- Deep Work is valuable: We’re living in an era of advanced technology. Everything changes so fast as lots of things used today may be obsolete in a near future. To keep ourselves in the game, we need the ability to learn everything quickly. This ability also allows us to work more productive, so we can have time for other tasks in our lives.
- Misconception: Busyness is productivity. Some people measure their productivity by looking at how busy they were in a day at work. Productivity has nothing to do with busyness. In some case, busyness is an indicator that we are not spend our time wisely.
Tips on weekly meetings: Have a plan to get the tasks done before the meeting. Don’t use the weekly meeting as a way to force yourself to work on the task. It causes some uncomfortable feelings, resulting in poor performance.
- How to achieve deep work?
- Make it a habit: instead of spending energy to force ourselves into Deep Work, make it become a habit. We need to determine: Where and When to do deep work, How (totally focus, keep the distraction away, create rules to follow), and support your work with little treats (coffee, snack)
- Do everything in batch: For example, answering emails ⇒ do it at the end of the day. It helps to avoid task switching, which can divert our attention and reduce the ability to focus.
- Embrace Boredom to learn to resist distraction: Take breaks from “focus”, in other words, gather all the distractions into some blocks/slots in the day. To practice deep work, we predefine some time slots that we are allowed to use distraction, this will prevent them from sneaking into our deep work. For example, well-known distractions are Browsing FB, using Messenger, watching Youtube, checking emails. We should plan ahead to what time in the day we can touch these things. If we’re not in the time yet, don’t use them. It’s temping to glance at your smartphone when you are sitting alone in a restaurant waiting for a friend to come, or wait 5 mins in line. This should be avoided. In some cases, we are in offline slot, but there’s some info we need to look up to continue the work. There are 2 options: Try to switch to other offline blocks, or we can use the Internet but try to wait for 5 mins before using it to separate the awards with actions.
- Walking/Commuting: Practice deep work, think about the problem.
- Set a deadline to make the most out of the hours: e.g., set 9 AM-10 AM for a side project, then a short break, and move to different tasks.
- Tool selections: Identify what is the core values (what is your target, or source of happiness), then employ the tools that positively impact on our lives (outweigh negative impact) and remove tools that only have little positive impact (but highly negative impact).
- Identify deep work and focus on important tasks: Tasks that require years of experience to master, or can generate big impact on the career. Somehow relates to 80/20 principle, where we prioritize the things that have highest values
- Process-centric response to emails: Put some effort on wring the email, be a bit more specific on the current step, and the next step. It helps to reduce the number of emails back and fort.
- And last but not least - Shutdown ritual to recharge batteries: Review what have been done, then write down all the task left incomplete, transfer them into the task list to get it out of your head, call it a day. Looking at a next few days in the calendar to plan for the next day schedule ⇒ shutdown complete (no more work-related thoughts). It may sound counter-intuitive but the author argues that cut off working hours at night can boost productivity: It recharges our capacity for a new day, and after a hard day at work, the additional tasks we deal with at night often shallow work, thus it’s not likely that we will miss out on import work.