How to Actually, Truly Focus on What You’re Doing


The goal is deep work. Avoid “persistent attention residue” by avoiding “quick checks” of your phone, websites, etc.

Seems like this basically boils down to clearing out the time and space to focus on deep work.

Concentration is like a super power in most knowledge work pursuits

  • Actively include “deep work” blocks of time in your day and protect them. Use your calendar if you need to. Make deep work a habit rather than rely on willpower.
  • Embrace boredom. Frequently expose yourself to boredom. If you whip out your phone every time you get bored, your brain will build a Pavlovian connection between boredom and stimuli. So when it comes time to think deeply (which is boring in the sense of lacking constant stimuli), your brain won’t tolerate it.
  • Quit (reduce?) social media. Be intentional and selective about what digital channels you allow into your life. Helps protect your ability to focus.
  • “Drain the shallows”. Shallow work does not require extended concentration (check email, schedule meetings). If your day becomes dominated by shallow work, you won’t get to the deep work that really moves the needle. Aggressively minimize shallow work and be organized and productive about what remains.

Book – Deep Work

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