The Internet has it improved or hindered our productivity? Most millennials will say, “it lets me multitask; I am so productive.” Like I said most not all, anyone that reads this will know better. Cal Newport has deciphered Da Vinci’s code in Deep Work. Cal explains why constantly switching tasks (multitasking) decreases productivity. When you start working on something it takes time for your brain to recall where you left off. So, if you switch tasks every ten minutes or so a few of those minutes will be wasted remembering where you left off. What’s even worse is that we don’t notice this, trust me I tested this a few times already. Cal calls this attention residue.
Cal lays out three methods for achieving deep work. Monastic equals no distractions, close the door on the bomb shelter and make sure that the Wi-Fi can’t get through. Rhythmic schedule blocks of time where you cannot be distracted, for example really early or late in the day. Journalistic use whatever free time you have to put in work. Make sure to set boundaries like no Internet, no phone, and no music. Then plan your days down to the minute, yes I said minutes. Now that your settings are correct realize what is important.
Sending emails is not deep work, it is shallow work. Shallow work is doing minuscule tasks that have little to no meaning. Every corporation has those email warriors looking for the most visibility, but that is all that they will ever get visibility. Even outside of work emails are not a high priority. If you set specific times to check emails and communicate that it with everyone nothing will change. Life will carry on, and people will learn to respect your time.
Email isn’t the only virtual black hole out there. Social media, YouTube, and about 80% of the rest of the Internet are a waste of time. These distractions and TV are dangerous because of how difficult they are to track. If you are in deep there a ton of apps out there that you can use to block the Internet or individual websites. Now that you rinsed your cottage cheese you can get after it.
Repetition mixed with deep work is the fastest way to pick up a new skill. Eventually, you will find enjoyment and satisfaction from said work. This is called a state of flow; you get endorphins from accomplishing the current task and moving on to the next one. Unless your Elon Musk or in the top 20% of humanity. Your deep work and flow will have a limit. We all need to be power cycled now and then. You will also get more useful insights while you are not working.
Cal then provides us with more tricks to improve our deep work. Moon Walking with Einstein and mind maps are referenced in this book. Saying no is the next deep work hack. These days too many people are afraid to say no. When you say yes to something that does not benefit you, your one thing is that much farther away. The last two hacks pertain to email management. Set up an email sender filter. For example, email me if <x> I might reply if it contributes to my <y>. Then lead all of your emails. I am only available <x, y, and z>, please check to see if you can make one of those times. This book has deeply impacted my life, and I hope that you jump into the deep end too.