Rules for focused success in a distracted world

Do you struggle to maintain focus? Do you get distracted by social media, emails or do you procrastinate and struggle to get everything done?

Our super-connected world has made us lazy. We can get answers at the lightning speed and ultimately, we will all choose the easy way to get the answer over the difficult, it’s human nature.

Just think about work situations where people will ask the same question over and over because it is easier than having to remember or work it out themselves?

We all struggle with distractions from time to time and as I am a big fan of a “get it done” book our latest read for book club was Deep Work by Cal Newport.

This book had been on the wish list for some time, so it was good to finally get to read it.

Newport helps you to understand what deep work is and how effective it can be in helping people to achieve.

Deep work is ultimately the ability to master hard or difficult things quickly and to produce work at an extraordinary speed and of a superior quality. It requires you to remove all distractions and focus on the work/project/task.

Newport stresses that in today’s world of instant communication and constant distraction that the value of being able to focus is becoming more and important and yet rarer and rarer.

He also says that working in a deep way is like exercising a muscle, the more we do it the stronger we get. For most of us, it’s going to take a few hours in the “Deep Work” gym 😁

So, what does it entail? Well, you’ll have to read the book to get the full detail but as with most “get it done” concepts you have to plan!

One of the things I liked best though was that while you need your focused time and have to remove your distractions for that period Newport suggests that you schedule the “non-productive” time too.

That means you can set aside 20 minutes of mindless scrolling through TikTok as a reward for completing your deep work task! Maybe Tik Tok isn’t your thing but I liked the idea of getting something less cerebral or brain straining as a reward, something to look forward to.

Knowing that you can have downtime also helps to motivate you to achieve during the deep work session.

There are many useful suggestions within this book like using your “out of office” as a filter and being absolute in your email responses so that there is no requirement for a response however I think it is worth reading the whole book to get the background and support for the concept.

If you want to try the “shallow” approach there are a few great web resources that outline the key steps and approaches.

Within Book Club a couple of us have already embraced the method and are very impressed with it. In business, we all have those tasks that need us to shut off the world and this is a great way of getting them done. I have found that I am getting more and more moved over to deep work time and am getting more done and have more free time. Win-win.

We would recommend this book to everybody from students to CEO’s – there is something in there to help everyone.

Mhairi Richardson
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Mhairi Richardson

Mhairi specialises in coaching teams to help them achieve more and improve their wellbeing. Her focus is on building trust within the team and a combination of coaching, mentoring and facilitation and she can tailor the program to the needs of your business. She enjoys working with newly formed teams, established team or teams who just feel they should be achieving more. Mhairi is also a coach with a strong SME background, a focus on the detail, a high level of emotional intelligence and a strong desire to develop talent and grow high performing teams.