What the Book Deep Work by Cal Newport Taught Me About Productivity
Deep Work Summary
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Distractions are more frequent than ever. It spread like wildfire especially in our time. Even With the advent of powerful note taking apps, online courses, Easy to do list, cloud drives, search engines and more tools to make life easier, we still feel more unproductive than ever. When asked, people always think that they are not using their time wisely. As they compare themselves to other people who are more productive than them. But why? Why is this the case? This is an era where we can find relevant information with a few press of a button. Why do we feel stuck. Really Stuck. Is there something wrong?
It seems, productivity is becoming father away from us. It also seems like this book “Deep Work by Cal Newport” has the answer.
Rest is important. Don’t get me wrong with this. I value rest a lot more than most people think. Just as I’ve read the Book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker has explained, sleep is a valuable ally in productivity. It also makes us faster in thinking. More on that in another video. But my point here is I wonder why do we, despite all of the help from technology, feel so overworked, tired and at the same time unproductive.
Don’t get me started with people saying they are working 80 hours per week. While most glorify people with those kind of work ethic, I don’t. This study from Stanford Computer Science reveals that people who work more than 60 hours a week tend to be more unproductive than people working 40 hours per week. So the question should not be how do I increase my time in work. The real question is how to be more productive while not maintaining the right amount of time in work.
But why? Why does working more hours don’t equal to being more productive? It basically comes to our own capacity to concentrate. Life is basically like a game. With you as a character with Energy. The moment you lose your energy for that day, it is not wise to continue. Rest is vital. Especially your brain. It needs rest to refill energy and function again. That’s why I think, while working for 80 hours a week seems so amazing, is it better to get some rest. and use your energy wisely.
But how? How do we use our time wisely? How can we use that limited energy bar effectively?
Big Idea#1: Shallow vs Deep Work
The basic idea of shallow and deep work, is to use that energy you have into deep work. You can separate Shallow work and Deep work by thinking if you can do something mindlessly. Mindless (Shallow), Mindful( Deep)For example. Let’s see my case: Reading Emails (Mindless, Shallow), Browsing Tutorial Videos for my Videos (Mindless, Shallow), Cleaning my Room (Mindless), Writing Script (Deep Work), Researching for Videos (Deep Work), Preparing Equipment for Shoot (Mindless), Laundry (Mindless).
So here is the thing to remember: Use your limited energy on deep work. This will make you use your energy wisely. It will make you create more if you are a creator. You can generate better ideas if you are a leader, it will also reduce your stress levels since concentrating on a task lets us forget what’s going on. Really. That’s the amazing power of deep work.
Now, I am not telling you to give up shallow work altogether. That is very very far away from reality. You need to cook, clean, do dishes, Laundry, Filing, all of those are shallow work. But you can actually do them mindlessly. Yup, you can do that outside your deep work schedule. It’s like this. Basically, these mindless tasks don’t need much brain power, so you can do them out of your deep work schedule. Very important concept. Now that I’ve already talked about deep work schedule, let’s go to scheduling
Big Idea#2: Your Deep Work Schedule
The greatest advantage of a deep work schedule is it turns it into a habit. Which is something that reduces our time to not want to do it. Let’s face it. Most of us HATE working. I also do. But if we schedule things out and make it something we can’t talk out of it. we will be forced to work. The more we do it, the easier it will be in the future. Make it a necessity. This means for me, scheduling 8am-12noon for deep work. No excuses.
I do a lot of mindful work on those times. for me, that’s 8-12noon. This means no phone, email, or any distraction that will break my productivity. I also put some white noise while doing this so I won’t be disturbed while thinking of fresh ideas for my videos. Same with researching for script. The result, My brain comes out with a lot of idea the more I focus on the task. I also feel like I don’t feel any hunger of some sorts while on this time. It seems my body knows that this is the time to use my brain to its full capacity.
Here are my tips for making use of your deep work time.
- Move your phone far away, this will make you think less of any distractions it can give.
- Stretch before it, I always feel some stiff after doing deep work for a long time. I find stretching a good choice since it lessens its occurence.
- Put some White noise on. There are lots of free white noise music online. It removes background noise so you will be focused on what you are currently doing. Remvoe distraction as much as possible
- Get comfortable, but not too much. This means sitting in a rested position but not laying down in bed. You might fall asleep.
- Put a notepad near you – Deep work makes you generate lots of ideas. Some of them are not related to what you are doing now. remember, as I said in one of my videos, your brain is not a hard drive, it is a powerful processor. Put it into a notepad and review later. This will make you not forget anything. GTD ftw, Link in the description.
Basically that’s how deep work is. Don’t get frustrated if you fail the first time doing it. We are not perfect. I am also a victim of shallow work sometimes. While doing deep work, I tend to generate ideas on how to make my videos better then I go to YouTube for tutorials which is shallow work. I’m still working on it but it’s just something you need to remember. This is a practice and the more you do it, the better you will be.
Big Idea #3: The Power of Shallow Work
It might seem that shallow work has no use but it is not the case. Shallow work is basically doing tasks that don’t require much brain power such as cleaning, filing, and organizing. However, there is a big use for this. A hack if you must say, on how to use shallow work in generating great ideas.
Our brain loves to think. In fact, one of the hardest thing to do is to quiet down the brain. Something that meditators kept on practicing but still, they can’t shut it down for long. Here is the thing, shallow work gets you preoccupied in the thing you are doing. It actually helps you shut your brain down and focus on one thing.
So here is the trick, once you are doing shallow work, you are preoccupied with just one thing. This opens up a lot of possibilities since your brain loves to think. It is like what people call day dreaming and why it is famous. It is never an enemy. You can turn something people hate into a friend. In fact, my idea to run this channel is because an idea popped in my head while I was doing shallow work. After that, I wrote it in a piece of paper and the following day, used the power of deep work to work on the plan to execute this idea.
Basically, shallow work is a good time to generate ideas. It is never my intention to make shallow work the evil. Distractions are the enemy but shallow work opens up a lot of new concepts for you to apply. Just don’t forget to write things down.
Big Idea #4: Quit Social Media
2 years ago, I tried quitting social media for a week and I wrote a really long article about it in my blog. I also plan to make a video for that article some time in the future. The main benefit is that it opened a lot of free time for me. It helped me appreciate my time and how social media affects me.
Mast of us don’t think much on how much social media affect us. With constant useless notification, we are losing deep work. Since we are losing the concentration needed in doing tasks that require deep work, we tend to make up with working more hours. And as you can see in the study earlier, it is very counterproductive. What if you try quitting social media for a while? Find out and see for yourself how social media affects us. See how we constantly get disrupted by notifications. How we are mindlessly browsing and losing so much time in those platforms. No wonder with even with our advanced technology such as easy searching, a portable note taking up, easy access to everything, we still feel unproductive.
Big Idea #5: Accountability in your own self
In one of my book reviews in Extreme Ownership, I explained how should be 100% responsible for our own lives. The moment we feel responsible for our own lives, that is the time where we will have extreme ownership within ourselves. I will put a link in the description box if you would like to know more about it.
Same concept in this book, you should be accountable for your own self. Especially in scheduling your deep work session. Here is a question for you. No offense. Do you want someday to have something to be proud of? An idea that one day you would want other generations to see? A work that seem so hard to do that you’ve accomplished? A dream you want to accomplish? If you do, then you should know what you need to do. Be accountable in respecting your work.
As you can see, technology has been a big leap in our life. Before, we don’t have much of these. The internet is a wonderful tool, our phone is also a very wonderful tool that can help us a lot in our lives. Which means that it can both be beneficial or harmful to us. Whether it will be beneficial or bad will depend on how we use them. It depends on our responsibility to ourselves. I hope you get my message and see you in the next video.