(Spoiler alert: It starts with rest on vacation!)
Discover how to unlock your full potential, and transform your cognitive abilities, with one of the most effective methods in the world: Deep work.
Cal Newport, author and professor, popularized Deep Work, inhis eponymous workpublished in 2016, inspired by the concepts ofMihály Csíkszentmihályi. The promise of this concept: to boost your productivity, by anchoring you in the moment.
We will explain everything to you!
Discerning Deep from Shallow Work
Cal Newport makes a decisive distinction, at the origin of the concept:
The Shallow Work: Non-cognitive tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts do not create new value and would be easy to reproduce by a motivated young graduate: Respond to emails, fill out an Excel document, prepare a PowerPoint, etc.
The Deep Work: Tasks performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push cognitive abilities to their limits. These efforts improve skills and are difficult for others to replicate.
The Deep Work method has two aims:
– Improve cognitive solidity:our ability to concentrate without distraction.
– Eliminate mental pollution:our tendency to continue thinking about a past task even when we have completed it or are between milestones.
Identify your optimal productivity windows
According to studies, about 75% of people tend to be more mentally alert between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.; and most are more easily distracted from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Identify the times of the day when you are productive and creative to implement your Deep Work sessions.
Run away from distractions and communications
Distractions and multitasking are the enemies of Deep Work. They have a time cost, but above all a very high cognitive cost. Newport explains: “Plan in advance when you will use the Internet, then avoid it completely outside of those times“. Make offline mode (or Airplane mode) the norm during your sessions!
Manage your time like a multinational
For your cognitive abilities to evolve, you must challenge them by timing your sessions: if a task lasts 3 hours, schedule an alarm an hour and a half later, and take stock of your progress. Have you finished yet? Because according to Newport, in this race against time, you will need to use deep concentration to complete the task and you should be finished faster than expected.
Newport describes this as “intense interval training for your brain’s attention centers», similar to HIIT used in CrossFit! Newport emphasizes that Deep Work is a skill that must be trained over and over again to strengthen it, like a muscle.
Newport explains that the brain must disconnect (or even get bored!) to be at its most powerful. He encourages us to anchor ourselves in the present moment: when traveling, don’t browse the Internet. When you tackle household chores, concentrate on this activity. Give up multitasking in general as it has a dramatic impact on your ability to concentrate, especially at work.
Our ability to work in Deep Work mode is unfortunately limited. According to Newport, the maximum limit is 4 hours, so you should allow yourself uninterrupted rest…
Good holidays ! 😉
“While working in Deep Work, I experienced an extraordinary feeling: total immersion in thought;an aesthetic experienceand quasi-ascetic: the famousFlow of Csíkszentmihályi, far from the tyrannical injunctions to Fordian productivity.
Cal Newport,Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, 2016.
Fadeke Adegbuyi:The Complete Guide to Deep Work: How to master the #1 job skill that will never be obsolete, Doist, 2020.