Book inspiration: ”Deep Work”

Book inspiration: ”Deep Work”

What

”Deep Work” by Cal Newport.

Published by Piatkus, 2016.

Bought on Amazon

Thoughts

Ever felt extremely busy, but not really getting anywhere in terms of producing results? Ever had many small or large tasks going simultaneously, shifting constantly from one to the other and then back again? Ever felt like your desk was the office meeting area? Ever spent time surfing the internet and engaging on social media when really you had set yourself the task of working on an assignment?

Trust me, you are far from alone.

Cal Newport has written a book on what makes for a satisfying and successful work environment and work experience for so-called knowledge workers, i.e. those of us that make our living using mainly our thinking and communication capacities. And Cal Newport talks about all of the above mentioned oh so common scenarios.

Distractions galore

It seems that work environments allowing for focused, uninterrupted effort are a rarity in many industries. The open office spaces, perhaps furnished with some kind of sound minimizing elements, still seem to be much favored by Management. Cal Newport's argument is that truly valuable work actually requires the ability to shut out distractions and interruptions for shorter or longer periods (hours, days, weeks or even months).

The work environment, as indeed society as such, seems to revolve around instant communication, constant availability, ever-arising requests to be acted on right now – and of course the belief that multitasking is actually a method for productivity (not just for feeling and looking sufficiently busy to yourself and others).

This gives rise to never-ending interruptions and distractions. These interruptions often come in the shape of other people and their requests for your time and effort. You probably also distract yourself by checking out social media (thanks for reading my blog, by the way) or pursue diverse seemingly very important notions that have presented themselves.

Getting deep

Cal Newport talks about how to make changes both to our environment and our behaviour that will roll back the constant distractions and give us the time and space for focused effort.  We'll need to implement rules for managing our time and methods of enforcing our way of working to ourselves and to those who will interact with us. We’ll also need to look into our work environment settings, e.g. move out of open space offices if possible.

Social Media is also an environment we should seek to move out of. Missing out means we free ourselves up to focus on producing quality work. Our attention will not be scattered by countless notifications we'd otherwise be receiving and probably reacting to during the day .

Equally essential is being able to distinguish between low-impact activities and high value activities. Low-impact activities are also referred to as “shallow work”, i.e. the not truly important/urgent tasks and tasks that can be outsourced to someone else. We should make ourselves hard to enlist for shallow work requests and be very strict regarding the amount of time we spend on such items.

Takeaways

For many of us giving thought to and making changes to ensure more time for focused effort will no doubt help us in the tasks we are pursuing.  I suspect the more tricky part will be obtaining the understanding and cooperation from managers, colleagues, customers and other interested parties.


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