According to Computer Science professor and author of the New York Times bestseller, Digital Minimalism, Dr. Calvin Newport, Deep Work is “the activity of focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” Deep work is what you need to do if you want your brain and mind to work on something really hard.
When in school and college, I spent so much of my time doing deep work. I didn’t have as many distractions and I had to master many new and difficult concepts all the time. So that’s how it was.
Today, my work life is different. I find that I keep jumping from one task to the other. The nature of my work, (which is mostly done online), meetings, meeting requests, online distractions, notifications, gadgets and phone messages are just some of the reasons, I find it hard to do deep work.
So when I read the rules of deep work in this interview in the New York Times, I decided I will write about them and try and live by them. Here are the four rules of deep work, according to Cal Newport.
- Work Deeply: This means we prioritize to work deeply. It’s not possible to find large blocks of time without distractions. So what we need to do is simply commit to deep work, everyday, whatever the circumstances. Concentration, will power, habit are all useful tools to encourage us to working deeply.
- Embrace Boredom: It’s okay to be bored. We need to experience boredom and not turn to some exciting new activity the moment we feel bored. Let’s NOT pick up a book, check email or glance at our phone as soon as we feel bored. The reason is, when we think deeply about something, we can actually find it quite boring. If we don’t know how to tolerate boredom, we can’t handle the boredom associated with deep work.
- Quit Social Media: We need to be selective about the websites and apps we visit. I am not very active on social media, but it still has a grip on me. I don’t tweet or post unnecessarily, But I do read other people’s unnecessary tweets and posts. This rule means I need to significantly cut down my time on Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and the like.
- Drain the Shallows: This rule means we don’t allow shallow work to dominate our day. Shallow work is work that doesn’t require much concentration. Work like reading and replying to email, scheduling calls and meetings are examples of shallow work.
Now that we know the rules of deep work, let’s make a commitment to ourselves to more deep work.