Business Focus

Four Rules to Help You Embrace Work

February 9, 2017

Professor Cal Newport presents an argument for deep, concentrated work.

He states that the most valuable work comes from full focus and in society today, people face more distractions and pressures that lead them to shallow work.

His following four key rules are there to help you to embrace work and become more productive:

1. Deep work involves periods of deliberate practice. At such times, you focus on the specific skill you’re trying to develop and you don’t switch among tasks. Deliberate practice calls for “uninterrupted concentration.”

2. People in today’s world suffer an addiction to distraction. The focus that deep work requires means that you must escape that addiction. Without distraction, however, you will suffer boredom. When trying to concentrate intensely, you will yearn for something to break the tedium. But if you stop fighting that boredom and recognise it as proof of your focus, you can make focused concentration a “habit,” something you do regularly because it is good for you.

3. Social media are entertaining, and keep you in touch with people. These benefits are minor compared to what social media cost you. When considering the use of any social media tool, identify which factors create “success and happiness in your professional and personal life.” Use that tool only if it offers more benefits than negatives. Think of this as “the law of the vital few,” or “the 80/20 rule” or “Pareto’s principle”. Identify your top two or three goals in the personal and professional arenas. Name the top two to three activities that contribute to reaching these goals. Review the network tools you use now. Evaluate their impact on your pursuit of your goals. Use the Internet for a substantive purpose, not entertainment.

4. Shallow work crowds are more valuable deep work. Deep work is exhausting because it pushes you to your limits. Most people have a maximum capacity of four hours of deep work a day. They have to build up to that level. Starting with an hour isn’t uncommon. Many people overestimate how much they work and underestimate how much television they watch. Schedule literally “every minute” of your workday. Group batches of related activities together.  Your objective is to use your time intentionally.

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