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Create the Perfect Conditions for Deep Focus

Rule No. 1

Work deeply.

The idea is to not only prize this type of work and this way of spending your time; the goal is to create routines and rituals to help design a work life that minimizes the less important drains on your time and energy, and that maximizes the time you spend working toward your most important objectives. The book discusses several different philosophies of deep work scheduling, including a monastic approach, a bimodal approach, and a rhythmic approach.

Rule No. 2

Embrace boredom.

You must wean your mind from a dependence on distraction. This means not merely taking breaks from all of the elements of life you know interrupt your deep work, but also embracing breaks from that deep thought, too. This incorporates some ideas of meditation, but the basic concept is that the more you allow your mind to wander, the better chance you’ll stumble upon great ideas.

Rule No. 3

Quit social media.

Hope is not a strategy. In this stage of dealing with our troubles, we search for a white knight to save us. It is, again, a low level of responsibility that should be overcome as quickly as possible.

Rule No. 4

Drain the shallows.

The concept behind working deeply does not mean working harder—it actually means trimming the amount of shallow work from your schedule. We can’t entirely eliminate the need for meetings and emails, but we can often group that type of work and figure out ways to minimize it. Shallow work can actually be satisfying and rewarding in the moment, but it’s not conducive to creativity and rarely helps achieve important long-term goals. It helps to rank the importance of your tasks.

· Designate your chosen space. Make sure it’s a place you won’t be interrupted.

· Empty the space entirely and clean it. Maybe even give the walls a fresh coat of paint.

· Fill your newly empty space with only objects conducive to your creative process.

· Consider acquiring new furniture. Possibly a desk, a comfortable chair, a bookcase you can fill with inspiration.

· Don’t be afraid to invest in professional help to clean, paint, or assemble furniture.

· While scheduling your workday, try to account for every minute.

· Keep a tally of how much deep work you’re doing. Know when you’re not doing enough.

· Determine in advance when and where you will do your deep work. Try to keep it consistent.

· Don’t let your mood dictate how your day unfolds.

· Be comfortable annoying people. Set the expectation that you may not be available during certain times or quick to respond to emails, calls, or messages.

· Talk to a supervisor about your deep work ratio.

· Treat yourself to a healthy reward. After you’ve completed your scheduled deep work, do something you’ve been looking forward to.

· Employ a “shut down mantra.” Since he was an undergraduate, at the end of every workday, author Cal Newport says aloud the phrase, “Schedule shutdown complete.”


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