Deep work, Cal Newport

3/5

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This books pretty good but also the sort of shit you already know, dedicate time to work, limit social media use, try to work for long periods uninterupted without a distracting environment.

That being said it does still have some useful information but unless you've never worked an office job (in which you tried to be productive for mr bossman ohhh please thank you mr bossman for letting me do this thing I have to do or I starve to death yess thank you now I don't have to waste my time pursuing things that I find meaningful) this book is only worth a skimread, however if you've never looked at maximising your productivity and performance either work wise or personally give this book a read

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//Resources:

//Concepts:

  • The Deep Work Hypothesis: 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.
  • Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate
  • Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.
  • Attention Restoration Theory: exposure to nature is not only enjoyable but can also help us improve our focus and ability to concentrate
  • Busyness as Proxy for Productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner
  • Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection: Identify the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.
  • Any-Benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection: You’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don’t use it.
  • Attention Residue: Switching between tasks lowers performance of the new task
  • productive meditation: take a period in which you’re occupied physically but not mentally—walking, jogging, driving, showering—and focus your attention on a single well-defined problem
  • The Law of the Vital Few: In many settings, 80 percent of a given effect is due to just 20 percent of the possible causes
  • Deliberate practice: (1) your attention is focused tightly on a specific skill you’re trying to improve or an idea you’re trying to master; (2) you receive feedback so you can correct your approach to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive.
  • The Principle of Least Resistance: In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment.
  • Two Core Abilities for Thriving in the New Economy
    • 1. The ability to quickly master hard things.
    • 2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.

//Tips:

  • Decades of work from multiple different subfields within psychology all point toward the conclusion that regularly resting your brain improves the quality of your deep work. When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done
  • [on attention restoration theory] You might, of course, argue that perhaps being outside watching a sunset puts people in a good mood, and being in a good mood is what really helps performance on these tasks. But in a sadistic twist, the researchers debunked that hypothesis by repeating the experiment in the harsh Ann Arbor winter. Walking outside in brutal cold conditions didn’t put the subjects in a good mood, but they still ended up doing better on concentration tasks
  • if you’re trying to learn a complex new skill (say, SQL database management) in a state of low concentration (perhaps you also have your Facebook feed open), you’re firing too many circuits simultaneously and haphazardly to isolate the group of neurons you actually want to strengthen.
  • This strategy asks you to inject the occasional dash of Rooseveltian intensity into your own workday. In particular, identify a deep task (that is, something that requires deep work to complete) that’s high on your priority list. Estimate how long you’d normally put aside for an obligation of this type, then give yourself a hard deadline that drastically reduces this time. If possible, commit publicly to the deadline—for example, by telling the person expecting the finished project when they should expect it. If this isn’t possible (or if it puts your job in jeopardy), then motivate yourself by setting a countdown timer on your phone and propping it up where you can’t avoid seeing it as you work.
  • Where you’ll work and for how long. Your ritual needs to specify a location for your deep work efforts

//Habits:

  • Once your workday shuts down, you cannot allow even the smallest incursion of professional concerns into your field of attention
  • During these periods, which can last up to three or four days, he’ll often put an out-of-office auto-responder on his e-mail so correspondents will know not to expect a response. “It sometimes confuses my colleagues,” he told me. “They say, ‘You’re not out of office, I see you in your office right now!’” But to Grant, it’s important to enforce strict isolation until he completes the task at hand.
  • consider the frustratingly common practice of forwarding an e-mail to one or more colleagues, labeled with a short open-ended interrogative, such as: “Thoughts?” These e-mails take the sender only a handful of seconds to write but can command many minutes (if not hours, in some cases) of time and attention from their recipients to work toward a coherent response [respond asking them to clarify and be more specfic]
  • Isaacson was methodic, Any time he could find some free time, he would switch into a deep work mode and hammer away at his book. This is how, it turns out, one can write a nine-hundred-page book on the side while spending the bulk of one’s day becoming one of the country’s best magazine writers. I call this approach, in which you fit deep work wherever you can into your schedule, the journalist philosophy. This name is a nod to the fact that journalists, like Walter Isaacson, are trained to shift into a writing mode on a moment’s notice
  • And in an ironic twist, Neal Stephenson, the acclaimed cyberpunk author who helped form our popular conception of the Internet age, is near impossible to reach electronically—his website offers no e-mail address and features an essay about why he is purposefully bad at using social media. Here’s how he once explained the omission: “If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. If I instead get interrupted a lot what replaces it? Instead of a novel that will be around for a long time… there is a bunch of e-mail messages that I have sent out to individual persons.”
  • Jung’s approach is what I call the bimodal philosophy of deep work. This philosophy asks that you divide your time, dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else

//Reference:

  • High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
  • They wanted to understand what differentiated these elite memorizers from the population at large. “We found that one of the biggest differences between memory athletes and the rest of us is in a cognitive ability that’s not a direct measure of memory at all but of attention,” explained Roediger in a New York Times blog post
  • People experiencing attention residue after switching tasks are likely to demonstrate poor performance on that next task,” and the more intense the residue, the worse the performance
  • From this perspective, the small-scale details of how you spend your day aren’t that important, because what matters are the large-scale outcomes, such as whether or not you get a promotion or move to that nicer apartment. According to Gallagher, decades of research contradict this understanding. Our brains instead construct our worldview based on what we pay attention to.
  • we live in an era where anything Internet related is understood by default to be innovative and necessary. Depth-destroying behaviors such as immediate e-mail responses and an active social media presence are lauded, while avoidance of these trends generates suspicion.
  • Nass’s research revealed that constant attention switching online has a lasting negative effect on your brain. Here’s Nass summarizing these findings in a 2010 interview with NPR’s Ira Flatow: So we have scales that allow us to divide up people into people who multitask all the time and people who rarely do, and the differences are remarkable. People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy. They can’t manage a working memory. They’re chronically distracted. They initiate much larger parts of their brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand… they’re pretty much mental wrecks.
  • A now voluminous line of inquiry, initiated in a series of pioneering papers also written by Roy Baumeister, has established the following important (and at the time, unexpected) truth about willpower: You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it.

//Books mentioned:

  • To Save Everything, Click Here, Evgeny Morozov link
  • The Pragmatic Programmer, Andy Hunt link
  • How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, Arnold Bennett link
  • Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Joshua Foer link
  • All Things Shining, Sean Dorrance Kelly link
  • Give and Take, Adam Grant link
  • Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi link
  • The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle link
  • The Intellectual Life, Antonin Sertillanges link
  • Rapt, Winifred Gallagher link
  • Average is over, Tyler Cowen link
  • The innovators, Walter Isaacson link
  • Race against the machine, Erik Brynjolfsson link
  • Willpower, Roy Baumeister link
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