We are visual creatures. Society places a tremendous amount of importance on what we see. The way we dress, our shape, and our color. It is so powerful in fact, billion-dollar companies such as Instagram are all about visuals.
It is this urge to appeal to our visual senses where our reality gets distorted. We are able to filter the output and filter the input. Or that is what we are led to believe.
Tuesday afternoon around 2:15 pm. Cranking away on a report due in a few hours. Ding. A notification pops up on your phone. A post from a former colleague from two jobs ago. Someone you have not spoken to since you stepped out of those office doors.
A picture from their family vacation. Cool.
Posting a picture of a fabulous vacation in the Bahamas sends a lasting ripple through our mental networks, causing more harm than good.
This is a shallow activity yet perceived to be important.
What we see fires off our neurons in our brain to feel the joy of the Bahamas. Often it turns into jealousy and anger.
“Why am I here working on this report when I could be in the Bahamas?”
Instead of focusing on the report, our mind is distracted. The attention economy is in full effect. You’re plugged in now. Get ready.
You’ll end up wasting a considerable amount of time in the Bahamas now. Also, trying to convince your wife the trip is a good idea.
I bring up this small scenario as recently I read “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. This is one of those books where when I was done, it changed my reality. I had been living in the matrix all along.
Seemingly, innocent notifications drain our mental capacity and set a chain reaction of shallow events. All to appease our urges.
The question then is does being connected all the time in real-time be a fruitful way to live? Newport argues it isn’t. I agree.
There are extreme measures some take by completing cutting themselves off. Digital detox I think it’s called. Abstain from technology for a period of time.
I’m not buying it. It is just like any diet. If you’re back to your original weight then what was the point?
This requires a lifestyle change.
Deep Work is about increasing our mental capacity to reach new heights in getting important things done.
Setting aside hours a day of uninterrupted work sessions. Scheduling out your workday. Being diligent about what to focus on.
I have noticed this has offered me more rewards than before.
More time with family. More productivity is the best way. Less busyness, higher quality output.
Newport offers several tactics to support how we can incorporate “Deep Work” into our daily schedule.
Some are interesting. However, I fear many won’t take them seriously. So I offer two simple suggestions to be more productive and reach new heights.
- Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature on your phone and laptop religiously. When you are working on important work. Turn it on and focus your attention on your work. No notifications.
- Turn off all notifications. I mean all of them all the time. You choose who to give your attention to and when.
After some experimentation, I tend to prefer the second option. I get so much more done. It’s ridiculous. Almost like a superpower or what dunking on someone might feel like.
This by no means is easy to do. I still struggle with this as an entrepreneur and being a part of a growing startup my time is often fragmented. That’s ok. Just keep doing the best you can and try to block out a few hours of uninterrupted a day.
In a deep working session, focusing on the task at hand is critical. An innocent email popping up can derail everything.
I’m not against social media and as Newport says it isn’t a “moral” issue for him. Not for me either. It is all about getting things done. Important things.
Be focused on where your attention goes and to whom.
This isn’t easy but I can promise you one thing. You’ll find life more rewarding.
It turns out we don’t need to be connected all the time. We just need to go deep.
This is “Deep Life.”