Book Summaries

Deep Work

All your work divided into 2 types: Deep Work and Shallow Work
Deep Work:
Activities performed in distraction free state, which stretch your mental capabilities.
These tasks are hard to replicate and generally improve your skill
Shallow Work
Performed in distracted environment
For eg emails, meetings, checking social media sites etc
Some of them are unavoidable and should be somehow tamed to increase deep work
To become successful (become a superstar in your field of work), two skills are needed
Ability to quickly master hard things
produce at a high level in terms of both quality and speed
Should work in stretches of uninterrupted time on a task. Switching tasks requires context change and your attention doesn't follow immediately, you will keep thinking of the old task.
Productivity Law
High Quality Work = (Time spent on the task)*(Intensity of focus)
How to work deeply?
Engage in Deep Work
Embrace Boredom, don't avoid it
Quit Social Media
Drain Shallows
Engage in deep work
Our work environment may not always allow long stretches of uninterrupted time. We need to add smart routines to try to reach at a stage where we have some stretches of such time.
We have limited willpower. Once exhausted, anything you do after will not have your complete attention. Need to optimize it. If you use it for shallow works, your actual tasks which require deep attention will suffer.
Strategies given in book
Monastic: Long stretches of uninterrupted time by isolating yourself somewhere without internet. This will give you time to think deeply. (Hardly possible in our work style 😛 )
Bimodal: Reserve some days of your week for deep work and rest for shallow (Again, doesn't seem to fit )
Rhythmic: reserve 3-4 hours daily for deep work. (Seems possible, worth a try)
Journalistic: Alternate your day in deep work and shallow work when required. (Hard to practice at first, maybe try rhythmic and then move to Journalistic)
There are several mentions on how undirected, meaningless browsing affects your attention, and you overtime slowly loose your ability to truly focus as you get trained to easily get distracted. (It has been very well explained using scientific experiments that were done by different teams and labs around the world, worth a read : Chapter 1 and 2)
What i implemented/realized
Kept 12:30 to 5pm DND on slack, no checking emails. far from achieving deep work but has definitely improved my productivity from before.
As i already don't browse much (not on insta or facebook or any other social media other than linkedin), after reading Chapters 1 and 2, i realized i was plain lazy.
Plan your deep working hours, have them marked in your calender, know where you will work, create a zone.
Focus on the most important tasks
Keep a scoreboard
Keep a way to keep yourself accountable (have daily, weekly reviews of your tasks)
Practice having a downtime.
It is not important to completely stick to your plan, adhocs will come and your schedule will change. Important is, even when adhocs come, you take time to revise your plan. The point is have a plan at all times of the day, it can change a dozen times though, but have it to see where you are, what all you need to do. This will also tell you where you generally get stuck and then work to correct it.
What i implemented
I discovered clickup app, which is basically a combination of ally, asana, confluence. I put all my tasks there and have done customizations to work my style. These include all my personal tasks as well for example : reading books, coursera courses etc.
I have a paper and pen planner too (Tiny Change planner, had it since last year but didn't work on it much). This basically has upper level tasks. I use it for writing my daily, weekly and monthly reviews.
Created goals on clickup for the year/month.
I realized two things
I sometimes actually work more than i think.
I sometimes think i am too busy when actually i don't have much work, because i hadn't planned well.
The reviews tell me what i can improve and on days i do well, it also increases my enthu for next day.
To be honest, it did seem like a lot of work initially , keeping tasks both in asana, clickup and then reviews. But when i measured the time, it takes max 20 mins of the day.
To give you a gist, this is my work dashboard (auto generated, from my tasks lists) in clickup. From one look, i also know that 33% of my tasks are ad-hocs (Tag usage graph).
Embracing boredom
We generally, if sitting free (for example even waiting for the ad to end on tv) have a quick glance at our phones to check emails, fb, insta etc. Because of our inability to resist a distraction, it causes us getting frequently distracted while performing our deep work task.
The point here is, if you can resist yourself from getting distracted so easily, you can work with more concentration. Be comfortable with getting bored.
Proposed strategy: Productive meditation
Use the time where you are occupied physically for example jogging, walking, etc to think about a complex problem. Bring your attention back to the problem when your mind wanders.
Not yet implemented in my time.
Quit Social Media
When talking about "Quitting Social Media", the author does not mean removing yourself from the internet all together, because lets face it, some of it is helpful. The question and the author's point is, we should be aware which "some of it" is useful to us and "how". The strategy given is, lets say you want to find how helpful Twitter is to you, then quit twitter for a week or two, avoid any urge to open it. Check after a week, see if you not being there had any effect on your life and how. If after a week, you see that you need some time on a particular tool, you can reactivate your account, otherwise quit it all together.
For example, for me, it was linked in. I know i would miss some opportunities to connect with people if i stay unconnected there. But in FB or insta, the same case isn't there. Hence i can quit.
After defining a set of such "Network tools", you can make definite time (no of hours, or at a specific time of the day) to use these tools.
Again the point is to practice not easily getting distracted.
Drain Shallows
Have a shallow to deep work ratio
fixed schedule productivity : fix your goal to work until some time(time of the day, lets say 7pm) and work you way backwards to find ways to support your goal
Ruthlessly reduce the shallow , preserving the deep
The limits to our time necessitate more carefully about our organizational habits
"Develop the habit of letting small bad things happen. If you dont, you will never find time for the life changing big things." -- Tim Ferriss
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