In the whirlwind of our modern digital age, maintaining a high level of concentration has become an unprecedented challenge. Indeed, we are constantly in demand and these distractions can tend to pull us from all sides. This is what I can see myself in my daily activities but also in the business world.
Cal Newport, professor of computer science at Georgetown University, explored this issue in his groundbreaking book “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”. Here he brings a new perspective on how we work and interact with our work environment.
I propose in this article to discover it 🙂
What is Deep Work?
Cal Newport defines “Deep Work” as:
An ability that allows a person to focus without distraction on a difficult cognitive task.
It is a state of flow that allows you to accomplish high quality tasks in record time.
In contrast, “Shallow Work” is non-cognitive or routine, undemanding, and often done while distracted.
Why is this important in the business world?
Knowledge workers are often bogged down in superficial tasks: answering emails, attending useless meetings, pausing for social media notifications. This therefore leaves little time for “Deep Work”, which is nevertheless key in the creation of value and in innovation.
Take the example of a software company. Developing new features requires “deep work” from developers. They need uninterrupted blocks of time to dive into code and solve complex problems. If their day is interrupted by meetings and emails, they end up doing “Shallow Work”. Productivity drops, delivery times are longer and customers are unhappy.
In another context, a management consultant needs to delve deep into market data to develop an effective strategy. If he is constantly distracted by conference calls and status reports, his ability to provide insightful analysis is compromised.
The 4 philosophies of Deep Work
Cal Newport recognizes that not everyone has the same flexibility or control over their schedule and that obligations and responsibilities vary from person to person.
That's why he describes 4 approaches, or philosophies to incorporate "Deep Work" according to your specific situation.
|Suitable for people
|Virtually eliminate superficial stains
|Can largely control their time
|Divide time into clearly defined periods of Deep Work and Shallow Work
|Flexible in their schedule
|Incorporate Deep Work into the daily routine. One to two hours a day, for example.
|Not being able to do “Deep Work” for a long time without interruption
|Move to Deep Work as soon as time permits. Requires the ability to quickly and frequently switch between Deep Work and Shallow Work
|Having unpredictable schedules and having to adapt to do "Deep Work"
These philosophies provide a framework for understanding how Deep Work can fit into different lifestyles and occupations.
In addition, they make it possible to identify the approach or approaches that are best suited, depending on our professional and personal situation.
Thus, they highlight the concept flexibility of "Deep Work" and the possibility for everyone to adapt it to their own needs.
Deep Work in practice
Here are some concrete strategies to implement “Deep Work” in your daily life:
1. Plan Deep Work
Block out specific time slots each day or each week to devote to intensive tasks. These periods should be treated as non-negotiable appointments.
2. Avoid digital distractions
Close non-essential browser tabs, turn off notifications on your phone or computer, or work in a quiet environment.
3. Ritualize Deep Work
Create a beginning ritual for your "Deep Work" sessions, such as a cup of tea, a moment of meditation, or some type of music. This signals your brain that it's time to focus.
4. Train your concentration
Strengthen your ability to focus with techniques like meditation or reading long texts without distraction.
5. Respect downtime
Take digital distraction-free breaks and set a strict end-of-day schedule to allow your brain to recover.
“Deep Work” is a working philosophy adapted to today's world. Indeed, it is a call to rethink the way we work and to value our ability to concentrate. Newport offers valuable insight here that could be the antidote to the digital sprawl of our time.
So, by implementing these principles, we could all learn to work deeper, be more productive, and find more satisfaction in our work.
So why deprive yourself of it? 🙂
If you are interested in the concept of "Deep Work", here are some other useful resources on the subject:
- “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It deals with the conditions necessary to reach a state of flow, fundamental for “Deep Work”.
- " Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” by Nir Eyal. A great resource for fighting distraction.