Go Deep, Not Wide

Yes to BOOKS!

Sometimes you read a book that changes you.

I’ve decided to read more of those in 2019.  And not just read, passively consuming yet more information as I have such a propensity to do #lovelearning – but to actually spend more time with each book thinking about how the information can be applied to my life and putting it into damn action.  I’ve actually read my three January books twice – how’s that for deep!

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World is the first game-changing book of the year.

Deep Work is described as “a professional activity performed in a state of 🌟distraction-free concentration🌟 that pushes your cognitive abilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your worth and are hard to replicate.”

How often do we make time to do this? Honestly, distraction-free concentration? Say what? Most people (myself included) live in a state of perpetual distraction! 

Our brains are constantly bumping along in distraction and reaction, doing shallow work, like sending emails and skimming online snippets of information, to such an extent that we’ve actually lost the ability to concentrate in any depth and even think for ourselves.

If you can master your ability to focus and go deep into something, rather than have your attention constantly scattered, you have a serious edge.

I want to work deeply.  I want to master my focus. I want to use my brain, and stop outsourcing all my thinking to google.

My takeaways and action points from this book:

  • Attention residue means when you switch from one thing to another some of your attention remains on the original thing. If you’re constantly switching from a – to – b – to – c, and back to- a, your attention is all over the shop! Focus on one thing at a time for a predetermined set of time. Stick phone on do not disturb and set a timer.
  • Use my google calendar to schedule blocks of time for getting core tasks done. Don’t decide spontaneously to do non-critical or important stuff during these time blocks.
  • Ask myself regularly, is what I’m about to do now the best use of my time? Don’t get caught up in busy-ness for the sake of busy-ness, or let shallow work distract me into feeling productive. 
  • Set up specific times to use social media and email, stay out of these at other times.  Start to build a schedule that means I take breaks from focus rather than breaks from distraction.
  • Actually assess the technology that is chewing up my attention (Instagram, Facebook, Email) to see whether it is genuinely bringing enough value into my life to justify any costs and drawbacks, like the total fragmentation and annihilation of my attention!
  • BE BORED – don’t fill every space with checking of social media. Give myself time to check out, dream, think….a relaxed mind is a creative mind…that’s where the magic is.  Downtime actually aides productivity.  
  • Bonus points, every time I resist the urge to randomly check my phone for messages, social media etc….I am training my mind to let go of distractions. This makes it easier to go into deep work when periods of time have been carved out for it.
  • Quit social media for a month as an experiment – not ready for this juuuust yet but it definitely needs to be done as the thought makes me a bit edgy. 

MY 2019 MONTHLY WELLNESS COMMITMENT

As part of my focus on going deeper rather than bouncing around the surface, I’ve decided that each month I’ll be focusing on just one primary health upgrade.

The  idea is to really establish something as a new healthy habit each month, so that come December I can point to some tangible lifestyle upgrades.

I’ll be reading around my monthly focus, listening to podcasts, and tracking my experience and findings. I’ll blog each month right here with an update on the topic of the month.

Deep Work led me to investigate my relationship to social media and how in control I actually was. This spurred me to start looking at other areas of my life where I might have less control over my actions than I’d like to think I do.

My health focus in January has been addiction as it plays out in food. I’m experimenting with sugar-free January.  Watch this space for my update and top resources for kicking the sugar-habit 🙂

 

Author: Sam Vale Noya

Yoga instructor currently living and teaching in Reading, UK.