Thoughts on Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

I have recently been listening to a new book on Audible – Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, a MIT computer science professor and popular blogger.

I will admit this isn’t my usual reading material, but I stumbled upon mention of it on this blog and this blog, gave it a bit of research, read some really positive reviews of the book (New York Times, Associates Mind),  and given the impending start of my Masters degree, I thought it might be worth a quick look.

It would be a fair assessment to say that I have found it to be a fascinating book with some really strong concepts and a clear narrative style

The authors primary argument is that today’s knowledge-worker has a lifestyle that is so disrupted and fractured it becomes almost impossible to be able to focus on anything particularly complex. It’s easy to confuse ‘busyness’ with ‘productivity’ and if we don’t watch ourselves, we end up filling our days with shallow tasks instead of the mentally-intensive stuff it takes to truly get ahead.

The ‘Deep Work’ method advocates taking time away from interruption and actively blocking off potential sources of distraction; no phones (gasp), no social media (bigger gasp) and no email (…faint!).  The concept is explained more succinctly in the following equation:

High Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus).

The author proposes several ways to achieve a personal ‘Deep Work’ approach ranging from completely locking yourself away, to setting up a schedule, to simply getting the most out of short bursts of available time, and he provides insight into what you need to do to be able to focus intensively on complex topics.

From experience, deliberately leaving your phone behind, or turning off your email is psychologically a pretty big deal. In today’s hyper-connected world choosing to disconnect can almost feel like sacrilege and that’s something you need to train yourself out of in order to embark on’Deep Work.’

I cannot recommend this book highly enough – it is great food for thought. All too often I have found myself being amazingly busy, but not feeling like I have achieved anything meaningful – and this book really gives voice to why I feel like that. I will certainly be training myself towards aspects of this approach when I start my impending Masters study sessions and, as far as possible, to get more productive hours out of my time at work.

Networking and Wallflower-itis

Social Networking is difficult.

Well it is for me.

Back in the mists of time – before I even knew that Environments Management was A Thing – I worked as a Website and Brand Designer (yes… I have a Arts degree…don’t bother asking how I got here – its very convoluted). I did this as a job for just over 3 years. One of my responsibilities was to go out to new clients and pitch, and I’ll be honest, this experience pretty much put me off direct networking. I have always found online networking far easier to get to grips with.

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Personal Development: The gift of time

I read an interesting article this morning in the Harvard Business Review.  It is a few years old now – but I think its just as true today as it was when it was published. The premise is that while leaders strongly advocate personal development and learning, they do not really allow any time for their employees to actually do any.

In a results driven environment, the long-term gains of credible personal learning are overshadowed by the short-term needs of constant delivery.

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