Thursday, January 19, 2017

Deep Work Wednesday (yes I know it was yesterday)

One of my accomplishments during the weekend snow storm where a whole 5 inches fell and completely disabled the region for 4 days was that I read the book "Deep Work" by Cal Newport.  I won't go through the whole book and summarize it because you can google it and get summaries by people who actually proofread their work, but the gist of it is this:

Our minds have lost the ability to focus and concentrate because we are so busy multitasking and being distracted by social media that we basically are getting nothing done.   In addition, we have become responders and not initiators.  In short, we don't take time to sit down free of distractions and think.  We have to retrain ourselves to think deeply.

This is an actual factual true real story of the past five minutes since I started this blog post.  I think it proves Cal's point.   I started the blog post and then had to google to remember the last name of the author.   I then came back and wrote another sentence and a text popped in from my daughter about her job search.  I answered her text.   There was some music playing in the background that was distracting, so I went in and typed "writing music" into google, which usually brings up several Youtubes with classical background music, but instead it pulled up the trailer to Lala Land, which I had to watch, and now have added to my list of movies I want to see, that I had to pull up and type into.  And then when I realized how many distractions I had had just writing this and how well it proved my point, I had to add this paragraph.  :-)

I think you are getting the picture.  So, I decided to challenge myself and the staff to try this practice on Wednesdays.

This was the challenge:

  • Set aside time to think and plan (start with at least 30 minutes)
  • Take only paper, pen and reading material (not magazines or fiction) and an idea of what you want to learn, discover, or solve.
  • Prepare before you go into the “deep work” zone.   Take what you need with you.  Have a topic.  If you don’t have one, ask someone else.
  • The following are not allowed:  Internet access, touching your phone (either cell or regular), any type of technology (you can ask for coverage if you are a designated phone answerer).
So I did it yesterday.  I went to a quiet place (borrowed an office in another building) and left my computer in the car.    I grabbed the folder of the articles that I was planning to read, a highlighter, and my journals.  My goal was one hour.

I got into the building and the office and realized I had grabbed the wrong folder.   I had already set goals of the things I wanted to accomplish, and the articles were one of them, but they weren't with me.   I grabbed the back of a piece of paper, and within 15 minutes had finished everything I had intended to do.   Now that surprised me.   But it also gave me time to think through a couple of things that had been whirling around in my head for the past couple weeks.

By the time 45 minutes had passed, I had run out of stuff to do and stopped.  So my conclusion is this:  even though I didn't head in as well prepared as I should have, I was incredibly productive.   Next week I will have more stuff with me.

I'd love to have you start trying this with us.  You can tag it next week on Facebook with us if you'd like!

No comments: