By Samantha Harr | 4-minute read
You've Got Mail
Getting distracted is so easy, right? You have your phone just within reach anytime work gets slow, commercials appear on TV, falling asleep is difficult. Deep Work by Cal Newport focuses on the very nature of quick-fix information's place in our society and how it has affected the work force in particular. Are we so unable to buckle down and apply ourselves to truly immersive learning experiences that we are slipping behind in competition with the superstars of our industries? Can we retrain ourselves to block out interruptions and give our intellectual pursuits the deep work they deserve? Deep work, as Cal explains, is (with very few exceptions) the only way to actually perform the best work you can be achieving.
Luck Favors the Prepared
The workforce is changing all over the world, primarily due to technological advances. Employers are more likely to replace workers with robot counterparts whenever they are able. With the inevitable future of many current jobs disappearing, who will still get hired? Another technological marvel is the constant improvements we are getting in the field of telecommuting. The plus side to remote work is that companies no longer have to stay within their local hiring pool and can find the best talent in any location. The down side is this leaves those local talent pools underemployed. How can we prepare ourselves to race in the hyper-competitive future job market? Deep Work gives us some insight into who exactly will continue thriving and how to position ourselves similarly.
Those Who Rise Above
Three groups are expected to not only find themselves safe, but better off than ever once automation and outsourcing reaches new heights.
- High-skilled workers: "Are you good at working with intelligent machines, or not?"
- Superstars: "Once the talent market is made universally accessible, those at the peak of the market thrive."
- The Owners: "Those with enough capital to invest in the great restructuring."
Here comes the tough part. Which path you choose to pursue of the above three is entirely up to you, but the directions are all the same. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and plunge into some self-discipline. Here is how author Cal Newport encourages readers to reach their goals and reclaim their lost attention span:
- Do Deep Work: This one shouldn't surprise you. It is the title of the book after all. Cut yourself off from nonsense distractions. Maybe even before that, really take a good look at what those nonsense distractions are. Do you actually need an alert every single time you get an email? How much time do you spend flipping back and forth between alarms and tasks? It's time to take a deep breath and let it go for a little while. Take time to completely focus on one single important project for an extended period of time.
- Embrace Boredom: Don't take occasional breaks from distraction to have moments of focus. Take occasional breaks from focus to have moments of distraction. Craving distraction has shown to be a very real rewiring of your brain. Fortunately one you can make a comeback from, but as Cal explains it, taking only one day away from distraction is like eating healthy for only one day and expecting to lose weight. You aren't making meaningful lasting change if all the other days are spent immersed in the same old bad habits.
- Quit Social Media: Popular social media outlets are one of the most common distractions out there. You cannot focus on deep work when you're immersed in a flurry of news and statuses and apps. Remind yourself what you are missing and who you are when there is no performance for others involved.
- Drain the Shallows: Find ways to "trim the fat" of shallow work and distraction. Cal Newport cites an example of a business that switched to a four day work week, still with only 8 hours of work in each of those four days. The result was equal productivity to before, when they had been working five days a week. The difference, he explains, is that normally so many of our hours are eaten up by meetings, calls, office politics, web surfing, and other shallow work, that we're lucky to perform even a few good hours of deep work. When the business changed its scheduling model to contain fewer hours, people respected that working time more, cut out distraction, and became more focused on the important stuff.
Deep work is a pretty quick read and one I highly recommend. Social media overload is a condition most of us are battling, as well as the need to fight off boredom as though that itself was our main line of work. This book reminds us to get ahead, stay focused, and toughen up our ability to do the work that needs to be done with the discipline our pursuits deserve.