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Deep Work: the new competitive edge

How much of your day is taken up with emails, meetings, social media, or internet browsing and breaks? And how much of your day is spent doing the work to build your business not just talking about it? In the book, Deep Work by Cal Newport, the author says that “The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy.” By being able to do deep work, you will be able to master hard tasks easier and you will become more productive.

Deep work is setting aside time in your day to work without being distracted. This means switching off all your notifications and closing your door. During this time, you will only focus on the task at hand and get into a flow where your mind will be challenged to solve those problems you face. Deep work is defined as making an effort that can’t be replicated. It is adding new value to the world through your efforts, and it helps you to produce on an elite level. Because deep work is cognitively taxing, it takes time to do and remain committed.

During your time of deep work, you may feel drawn to check your e-mail or to see what the latest gossip is online. This is just your craving for distraction. You have become addicted to distraction, but you need to train your brain to stop craving it when you are bored. Cell phones have made it easy to remove boredom while in a queue, but we need to embrace these times of boredom. Rather than taking breaks from distraction, we need to flip the script. We need to spend more time offline and engaged in our work and less time online distracting ourselves.

Some people may say but “I can multitask. I can answer emails and watch the news.” Though a study at Stanford has proved that heavy media multitaskers struggle to focus and can be distracted by irrelevant information. This study said that multitaskers count all information they receive as relevant and struggle to filter out irrelevant information. It also stated that multitaskers struggle to organise and retrieve information from memory. Another reason why multitasking inhibits your flow is that if you move from one task to the next without completing one of the tasks, you take residue from the incomplete task to what you are focused on and this leaves you not being able to perform optimally on your current task.

By making deep work part of your routine, you will be able to be more focused, and efficient which in turn will make you happier and you will be able to produce higher-value work during a session of deep work.

As mentioned before, this skill is very rare but necessary for success in our distracted world. We need to learn to focus and engage in the tasks which will bring us closer to building the life and business we always envisioned.

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