Cal Newport argues that the most important skill to develop is the ability to do “deep work”. This is work that allows you to make big leaps and accomplish your long-term objectives rather than getting stuck in the muck and mire of “shallow work”. He teaches us what deep work is and how to do more of it.
Key ideas from his podcast are:
- Focusing without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks produce the highest productivity.
- Peoples work-flow makes it harder for them to have time for this as often it consists of lots of shallow tasks such as meetings and moving from one activity to another.
- Focus is the new IQ – become a superstar at what you do.
- There is a trend in modern working of not having time to innovate and create new ideas. Cal argues we are so obsessed with squeezing out a little bit more in each day (work that will not be rewarded in the short term) at the detriment of what will impact over a longer period of time.
- Shallow work is important as it is what keeps your job and tasks that must be done – a balance is needed. The ideal goal is to split your time/workflow with minimum amount of shallow work needed (be Henry Ford thinking about developing the combustion engine rather than the company churning out horse boxes).
- Aim to agree a ratio with your employer to create time for this rather than meetings stacked on each other. Culture of constant meetings and emails incompatible with deep work. Try to calendarise and protect deep working time.
- If you require people to be busy all the time deep thinking will not take place – there is a place for making yourself not available (calendarise) for thinking and strategising.
- Be careful of social media as this takes away from your ability to focus deeply and not be distracted. Protect your ability to focus.
- One hour of deep work can be equivalent in productivity to 5 hours of distracted/shallow work