Austin

Favorite Spots For Remote Work in Austin

Even if you have a top-notch home office, sometimes it helps to get out and clear your head.

I get some of my best work done at Cosmic (in good wether) or Barley Bean (in most weather). Do512 did their own polling and came up with the best places to work all around Austin.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Our Favorite Spots For Remote Work

I’m bookmarking this list in case I find myself somewhere besides South Austin (gasp!), looking for a place to pull out my laptop and knock out some writing or code.

๐Ÿ‘‰ See also: The Best Outdoor Seating in Austin, TX

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 โ€œsummary of a summaryโ€ 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.

๐Ÿ‘‰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 thatโ€™s done in small pieces, doesnโ€™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.

๐Ÿ‘‰ 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.

๐Ÿ‘‰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.

๐Ÿ‘‰This seems pretty extreme unless you aim to be Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond or Bon Iver at his cabin in Wisconsin. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

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.

ย Rhythmic

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

๐Ÿ‘‰This is how I work because, you know, meetings. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

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. ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

๐Ÿ‘‰ For some additional ideas, check out Wired article How to Use Block Scheduling to Revamp Your Workflow.

The World

Iceland tries a 4-day workweek with good results

I guess if you’re an island in the far reaches of the North Atlantic, then you’re pretty self-sufficient and can try stuff out on your own terms. Thank you, Iceland’s Association for Sustainability and Democracy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ (hey, we could use one of those! ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ), for experimenting with a 4-day workweek.

It turns out the reduced workweek is a win all around. According to Mashable, the extra day was shaved off largely by “delegating and prioritising tasks more effectively”, plus fewer and shorter meetings.

Via Apple News.

You

Rest, Leisure, and Mental Crop Rotation

This article talks about taking time off from a difficult problem to get some distance and perspective so you can make a breakthrough.

I also really like the idea in here of “mental crop rotation” where you intentionally work on a different hard problem for a while to clean your head before you come back to the first hard problem. Actually, that’s from Kierkegaard. (I used to make fun of people who quoted Kierkegaard in college. ๐Ÿ˜‚)

๐Ÿ‘‰ Using Incubation to Unlock Your True Creative Potential

Creativity is about connecting dots. But if we try to force it, if weโ€™re too focused on it, all we ever do is connect neighboring dots, resulting in a rigid grid of stale thoughts. To really see the interesting connections we need to get a new perspective and gain some distance. Then the truly interesting connections will reveal themselves.

creativity · Music · You

The Best Music for Working

According to research on the effect of music listening on work performance, music can indeed help your brain work better. But it depends what you are listening to.

๐Ÿ‘‰ 5 Types of Music That Increase Your Productivity, According to Science

Official Recommendations

Classical music, especially baroque, can increased mood and concentration – see Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel ๐Ÿ‘‰example

Not really music, but nature sounds can increase cognitive function and concentration – rain, water, etc. ๐Ÿ‘‰ example

Epic music can inspire you if you’re feeling unmotivated ๐Ÿ‘‰ example

Video Game Music – this music is designed to help your brain feel better! ๐Ÿ‘‰ Sim City, Bastion, or pick a game! (Zelda?)

Ambient music can reduce stress (I’m not a huge fan, so no example ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‚)

My Own Favs

I personally love classical adaptations of rock and pop, such as Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin or the Vitamin String Quartet.

I also like some of the Apple Music concentration playlists such as Swift Concentration.

And even though it breaks some of the rules above, I just find KUTX relaxing.

Also, Miles Davis. And the Isle of Dogs soundtrack.

Duke Ellington: Black, Brown, and Beige.

Shostakovich: Jazz Suites Nos. 1 – 2 – The Bolt – Tahiti Trot

For some chill beats, try Trappin in Japan (YouTube) (๏ฃฟ Music).

Also, just any classical waltz music seems to work.

What Doesn’t Work

Not surprisingly, complex musical structure and lyrics don’t help. In fact, they make it harder for you brain to focus. (*Still, I can work to Johny Cash music, probably because it’s so familiar.)

Also, any music may hinder the especially difficult tasks.

And you have to be in the habit of listening to music to make it helpful. If you only do it sometimes, it doesn’t help.