2018: Book #44

“To learn requires intense concentration.”

Seems like a no-brainer, but we live in a very distracted world. I must ask…are any of us learning?

The quote is from Cal Newport’s book, “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.”

Let me say up front, this book does not apply to everyone; however, some of its principles can be applied by anyone. Most of his attention seems to be spent on research professionals, of which I am not. Those individuals require hours of focus without interruption so they can interpret and consider their findings.

That’s not so true for someone like me. I don’t spend hours a day at work with my head buried in research. I do spend hours a day engaged with people trying to inspire, coach and correct. Even so, Newport makes some valid points I need to heed.

Here are some of his more thought-provoking points:

  • Give yourself a little margin. The brain does not automatically switch from Item A to Item B. It takes time for it to leave one topic and latch to another.
  • Track your social media usage. Newport believes we’ve rewired our brains to not think deeply. Instead, we fill our time with mindless social media posts to avoid boredom. In fact, we’ve grown uncomfortable with boredom. This point deeply convicted me.
  • Give the team margin. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean the team must respond immediately. Their brains are trying to switch topics and they’re trying to give themselves margin. Be mindful of that. Convicted again.
  • Just quit it. Newport has a whole chapter on quitting social media. He offers some guidance on who should use it and why. Very insightful.

A few quotes…

“The problem this research identifies with this work strategy is that when you switch from Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow – a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task.” 

“The type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work. If you’re not comfortable going deep for extended periods of time, it’ll be difficult to get your performance to the peak levels of quality and quantity increasingly necessary to thrive professionally. Unless your talent and skills absolutely dwarf those of your competition, the deep workers among them will out produce you.”

“The brain responds to distractions.”

“Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one’s work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Our time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed.”

“Human beings, it seems, are at their best when immersed deeply in something challenging.”

This is an intriguing book. It opened windows within me that revealed some areas that need my attention. I suggest you read this book, too. Apply its lessons to yourself as well.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

That’s book #44 for 2018.

8 more books to go before I reach 52 for the year.

Remember, all leaders are readers.
If you want to be a better leader…be a reader.

Interested in purchasing this book?