Education

Reap the benefits of "Deep Work"

Update: 31/08/2016
When concentrating intensely, without distraction, on demanding things, you not only become massively more productive but your life becomes more meaningful and satisfying, says author and Professor Cal Newport.
 

Reap the benefits of

 

Pay attention! Do your Deep Work, says author and Professor\r\nCal Newport. That's the name of his brand new book and it's a worthwhile\r\ndistraction.

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"Deep work is when you focus without distraction on a\r\ncognitively demanding task. It's like a super power for knowledge work as it\r\nhelps you learn complicated things quickly and produce high quality results at\r\na high rate," says Newport, computer science professor at Georgetown\r\nUniversity in Washington.

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His book offers up rules for focused success in a distracted\r\nworld,

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so you get high performance out of your brain at work and\r\neven school. Just like a professional athlete is wary about taking in junk\r\nfood, if you value your time and attention you should be as guarded about\r\nsources of distraction you're taking in.

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According to Newport, "it's not that distraction is\r\nintrinsically bad. It is, instead, that it's opposite is so intrinsically\r\ngood." When concentrating intensely, without distraction, on demanding\r\nthings, you not only become massively more productive but your life becomes\r\nmore meaningful and satisfying.

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"If you instead give into becoming a gadget in the\r\nattention economy, and spend your day mindlessly clicking and liking and\r\ntweeting so that a small number of companies in California can harvest and sell\r\nyour eyeballs and personal data, you lose out on all of the good things depth\r\ncan provide," adds Newport, of calnewport.com.

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There is no concrete value in being connected, adds Newport.\r\n"Focus on the things you can do that create concrete value and then deploy\r\ntechnology only when it helps you do those things much better."

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While The Economist says Newport's "deep work is the\r\nkiller app of the knowledge economy," he maintains that "if the\r\nthought of life without social media or going a full work day without checking\r\nan inbox terrifies you, then this book is not for you."

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According to Newport, today's market is harsh, and it values\r\nthings that are rare and valuable -- which is definitely not our tech\r\nbehaviour, so we're not reaping the rewards. "Responding quickly to e-mail\r\nis not rare and valuable. Maintaining a vibrant social media presence is not\r\nrare and valuable. Being busy, in general, is not rare and valuable ... The\r\ntypes of things that matter require hard work that pushes your current\r\nabilities to their limit."

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If you're not doing much deep work, you're stuck, he adds.\r\nGet unstuck and focus on Newport's steps:

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Quit social media for 30 days. Don't tell anyone. Don't\r\ndelete your accounts. Just don't use it. At the end of the experiment, ask\r\nyourself two questions: (1) Was my life worse for not having access to these\r\nservices? (2) Did anyone notice or care that I was absent?

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Start scheduling blocks for deep work on your calendar every\r\nweek and protect them like any other meeting or appointment.

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Start scheduling distraction. That is, instead of having a\r\ndigital day-of-rest once a week where you don't use technology, plan, instead,\r\nthe small windows each night when you will use technology. Outside of those\r\nperiods, the default is non-digital presence.

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Train your ability to concentrate. Give yourself specific\r\ncognitive goals. Play games, or learn an instrument, or participate in any\r\nother activity that requires concentration that gives you immediate feedback on\r\nhow you're doing. Read hard books.

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Get outside. Go for long walks. Think about hard things on\r\nthe walk. Repeat absolutely as much as possible.

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Source: Toronto Sun

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JOANNE RICHARD

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