Books · creativity · Practical

Super Summary: Deep Work

Next up in my super summary series: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

On this blog, a super summary is basically a “summary of a summary” of a book (with a few additions of my own). It gives you the basic idea of a book to see if you want to read the real thing. Most of the content comes from Lucid visual book summary series.

👉This book gives you official permission to set your chat app to do-not-disturb or enable Focus mode on your iPhone.

Deep vs. shallow work

Shallow work is work that’s done in small pieces, doesn’t require your full attention, and keeps you busy. It is often necessary, but does not lead to great achievements.

Deep work means complex thinking in a state of distraction-free concentration. Think flow. Your brain can do amazing things in this state of focus.

Many great thinkers in history went to incredible lengths to isolate themselves from distractions while they worked. Studies show that many of people’s happiest moments come when they are stretched to their mental limits and lose themselves in this state.

This intense focus allows you to master difficult skills and produce at an elite level.

👉 It’s a career builder.

Making time for deep work

Switching frequently between tasks leaves “attention residue” and makes it difficult to focus on a new task after switching focus, especially if you leave the previous ask unfinished.

To allow yourself to get the most out of deep work, schedule you time in blocks of deep and shallow work with one of these strategies.

👉I’ve found that I can only be productive at highly creative deep work for about 90 minutes at a time. Then I need a mental break.

Monastic

On one end, monastic deep workers go to great lengths to make time for deep work. They eliminate social media and use email sparingly to achieve their goals.

👉This seems pretty extreme unless you aim to be Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond or Bon Iver at his cabin in Wisconsin. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Bimodal

Bimodal deep workers plan their day to make time for the shallow and deep work they need to do.

This strategy can mean bookending a solid day of deep work email and busy work at the beginning and end.

 Rhythmic

Rhythmic deep workers break their time down into smaller chunks to fit their schedule.

👉This is how I work because, you know, meetings. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Journalistic

For those whose less predictable days, journalistic deep workers capitalize on spare moments that come up throughout the day, even if it’s just 30 minutes.

These people fighting for deep work time as their day evolves. 🏃🏻‍♀️

👉 For some additional ideas, check out Wired article How to Use Block Scheduling to Revamp Your Workflow.

Me · Practical

In case you notice a change in case

It struck me recently that I didn’t have a strategy for capitalizing my blog posts. So I’m making a change.

As the sole proprietor of this blog, I hereby decree that henceforth and regressively back to 1 June, year 2021, all blog posts shall follow the Sentence case standard.

Title Case was starting to bug me. It was overly formal and hard to read, as in Who Do You Want to Be On The Other Side Of This Crisis? And it was confusing. Which words do you capitalize, again? I took my best guess on 5 Things You Don’t Need to be Happy, Fulfilled, and Successful.

Plus Capital Case was constantly being dissed up by quotation-titles such as “The only real escape from hell is to conquer it.”

Capital Case also made it hard distinguish Proper Nouns from normal words, as in Favorite Austin Hotel Pools. Was that post about hotel pools in Austin? Or was it about pools at the Austin Hotel?

I’m pretty happy with this change, so much so that I am tempted to go back and fix all the old posts, such as “Favorite Austin Hotel Pools” to “Favorite Austin hotel pools”. But there are 742 of them, and sometimes it’s better to live with your imperfect past anyways.

With that, enjoy all the easier-to-read blog titles, future reader. I’m going to figure out punctuation for quotations next. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Practical · You

Things and the 5 Second Rule

I recently came across this book on Audible called The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. I didn’t end up buying the book since I don’t want to send 7 hrs and 35 mins listening to a book about a 5-second strategy. The math just didn’t add up for me. 😆

But I saw there was a short TED talk on the 5 Second Rule plus an even shorter YouTube video on the topic.

The basic idea is that as you go through your day, you have things constantly popping into your head. These are fleeting things that you should do, would like to do, useful ideas, and so forth. Mel says you have 5 seconds to act on that idea or it’s gone, or at least you won’t do anything about it. And acting on those ideas is the difference between making the life you want and not. 🤯

I like that idea. But what can you actually do in 5 seconds? I mean, you’re probably driving or out for a jog or playing Wii. You can’t necessarily write down a note or call up your cousin right then and there and invite him to lunch. You can’t go adopt a dog in 5 seconds. And you sure as hell can’t write a book in 5 seconds.

Mel has other suggestions on how to handle this 5-second period, but I’ve been dumping things like this into the appropriately named Things app on my iPhone. It goes like this:

Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to invite my cousin to lunch

That’s it. Now it’s in your inbox. You can figure out the details later, but at least now you have a placeholder / reminder. My Things inbox has grown way too long to be useful in the past (way into the hundreds), but I eventually fought it down, gradually turning this list into projects or reference notes or calendar reminders. I’ve also turned more than 400 fleeting thoughts into a database of book ideas (thanks to Evernote).

The only way I keep my Things inbox under control is to clean out the inbox once a week on Sundays. Usually I have about 40 things for the week to act on, organize, file, or discard. It takes about an hour a week.

And by the way, both this very blog and this specific post came out of a 5-second thought. 🤓

Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to check out Mel Robbins and The 5 Second Rule