Finished reading Deep Work lately, a great book by Cal Newport that helped me solidify my personal experiences with deep work to date. Many of these insights I’ve been practicing for years now. Learned a lot of these “hacks” and tips through practicing guitar for hours from a young age, reading a wonderful book called – think like Leonardo Da Vinci, Mastery by Robert Greene, and mostly from self-observation. [[The path to mastery]]
Either way, This book is very similar in its vibe to the techniques of Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi but it’s more adapted to the modern age and more practical from what I’ve gathered. It gives you a great structure to understand the state of our focus in today’s modern world and ways to combat it in order to become an elite performer in your field. See also: [[Flow State Living Philosophy]]
I believe the best way to learn how to focus at your peak level is to experiment and see what works for you, but if you have no clue on how to get into deep flow and need to get things done, asap – there’s not much time for guesswork.
Let’s dive in:
- To start with, there are 4 modes of deep work:
- Monastic -> Locks himself in a place for months until the job is done, or as a lifestyle
- Periodical -> Has periods of the year where he is absent doing busy work
- Routine -> Has times in the day when he will go into deep work mode and forget the outer world
- Journalist -> Has an in-n-out mode of flow, whenever he gets some time he bangs the keyboard.
- Similar to flow in the sense that you have a clear objective, measurable, full-fledged focus, and a time block that is uninterrupted.
- Allocate a special time and place to work – when you go into one type of work, you shouldn’t zigzag to another as it gets your brain out of focus mode.
- Create rituals -> Perhaps you want to get faster into the state of deep work, in that case, it is recommended you develop powerful rituals for yourself. It can be provoked by scents, a favorite drink, a specific soundtrack, or anything else that stimulates your senses. Your brain will be primed by these signals to go deep into focus.
- Have a big-picture understanding of how your task is going to get you to your vision. You need to have an emotional connection with your tasks and understand why it is moving you toward your goals
- Performance -> Speakers, Athletes, Musicians, Writers, and Executives of a high order, all have to operate on the highest levels of creativity, thinking, and performance. The key here is that they are fully immersed in their craft. They can’t afford to bring shallow thinking into their work as it will degrade it. Another key factor is that they can enable more and more focus over time, and track their performance for greater efficiency.
- Myelinated Neurons – this one’s for the neuroscience geeks out there, whatever skill you practice, you’re going to get a certain set of neurons working together. Certain parts of your brain are going to light up in a set sequence, depending on the task at hand. Say you’re typing on a keyboard then you’re activating the motoric and sensory areas while coordinating with your eyes and frontal cortex for understanding, thinking, and processing the information you are writing. You are also monitoring the words coming out and understanding if they are making sense. This all happens in a fracture of a second, through deep cognitive skills. After they are activated together for a long enough period, these areas will get bonded and a neural pathway will be created. Additionally, they’ll be better myelinated which means the neurons will fire in a much better way. Now imagine you’re writing but have constant notifications bombarding your brain, additionally, you’re checking your phone every 5 minutes, and you’re interrupting the process. What happens is that the skill you are trying to build will not get enough exposure, and won’t get myelinated as well as it could. In fact, you will be wiring your brain to a state of fractured focus and conditioning it to check other tasks with the skill you’re trying to build.
- Practicing focus increases it – tied to the last point, the more you’re able to practice focus and bring yourself to the edge of performance, without interruption or stopping – the easier it gets to enter this focus state and stay there.
- Lead measure vs long measure – Most people measure their outputs instead of their inputs. Say, for example, you sat down and invested 2 hours of deep focus in your craft – but got no results. Because you’re measuring an outside output, you’re going to get discouraged and less likely to devote those 2 hours again and again, when in fact they are what is needed to get to the results. If you only measure the output – for example, sales of a product\service, you neglect the process that got you there. If you start measuring the hours you invest in deep focus\practice\work – you’ll be able to enjoy and get a big reward for sticking to your schedule.
- Internet detox – if you can have time blocks of uninterrupted work throughout your day, congrats – you’re one of the top %1 of the world. Most people can’t go 10 minutes without checking their phone, a site, their email, messages, and so forth. This creates an attention span that is getting more and more fractured. If you want to cure this and save your brain from being unable to focus for good – I recommend you time block your work. Create a time block of at least 50 minutes of work, coupled with 10 minutes of rest. If you can, don’t go on the internet during those 10 minutes as well. This is especially possible if you implement an early wake-up regime. Experiment with this and see where your peak focus lies.
The above is just the tip of the iceberg to unlock high performance and get TONS of quality work done in minimal time. We all know that more time equals more money, growth, and success in your business and personal life…
If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to get more done in less time, without the stress, doubt, or procrastination holding you back- DM/book a free call to learn about the Limitless Performance system that teaches you how to get 5 hours of work done in 1: https://tidycal.com/limitlessreader/30-minute-discovery-call