Book Club: “Deep Work”

David Graham July 27, 2017

Business Building, Self-Improvement

We live in a highly distracted world. With social media, email, and text messages constantly demanding our attention, most of us spend 60% of our work week engaged in electronic communication and searching the internet.  The author of “Deep Work,” Cal Newport defines this as Shallow Work; tasks that don’t challenge us intellectually that we can perform even while we are distracted. This work is easy replicated and doesn’t really require us to challenge our full intellectual potential or what we are trained to do.

Deep Work on the other hand is defined as, “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to the limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill and are hard to replicate.”

What are the tasks that you consider to be deep work and what would be the value if you could do more of it?

Here’s a look at Cal Newport’s 4 basic rules that lead to deeper more meaningful work:

  1. Work Deeply
    • Determine how many deep hours of work you need and then put it in your calendar
    • Find the ideal location that you use only for depth
    • Create a ritual for yourself to support deep work
    • Be lazy – down time is equally important to deep work, so schedule the time to recharge and renew, too
  2. Embrace Boredom
    • When we get bored, we typically flee the work and give in to distractions. Determine the amount of time that you will commit to deep work and challenge yourself to stick with it
    • Working deeply requires commitment and training so start with a smaller amount of time to start
    • To give yourself a fighting chance, eliminate pop-ups and notifications and put your phone on silent mode
  3. Quit Social Media
    • Understand that social media is designed to be addictive and we get hooked on that dopamine rush when we get an email, a like or a retweet
    • Break it down…identify the benefits of each social media outlet, consider if it has a positive impact, a negative impact or little impact and schedule your time accordingly
    • Be mindful. If you are using it for entertainment or as a distraction – set a time limit
  4. Drain the Shallows
    • We need to respond to our clients in a timely fashion, but if we don’t limit our email time it can occupy our entire day. Schedule time for email and determine the importance of the response time
    • Consider using a sender filter or auto-reply email. This could either set the expectation that you may not respond right away or you can share timelines of when the sender can expect a response to emails
    • Rather than going back and forth, send one longer email that outlines all of the details. It may be more work up front, but it will save you time in the long run
    • Don’t respond to unimportant emails

Deep Work is rare, and it’s becoming even more valuable in today’s economy; those of us who can shut off the distractions and commit to deep work, have a huge competitive advantage.

Need some coaching on how to best structure your work day, give the EDGE3 Team a call.

David Graham

Dave coaches good leaders who want to be great leaders and he works with leaders to build high performing, super-focused teams. For transformational experiences, he takes teams out of the boardroom and into nature.