Hack Your Brain: Increasing Productivity with Deep Work

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I recently came across this book written by Cal Newport called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

In it, he talks about how distracted of a world we have with constant notifications and bombardments from e-mails and social media, and how these distractions are limiting our ability to perform at a high, consistent level to be productive. He also gives suggestions on how to minimize these distractions so you can put yourself in an environment where you won’t be distracted, where you can concentrate at the task at hand, and you will subsequently become more productive in your life and your work.


So what exactly is deep work?

Deep work is defined as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” It’s a skill that you can develop and master, and allows you to focus on a task at hand without distractions and allows you to produce better results...in less time.

How do you limit distractions?

To get into the state of “deep work,” limiting distractions is key. And yes, you may consider being in a quiet room, feet planted on floor as one of those changes you can make. But if you’re the person who likes to listen to music, maybe put a podcast on, or have your e-mail or Instagram notifications on your phone or laptop - you’re definitely not limiting your distractions. Cal argues that by letting e-mail notifications, or just “googling something” when you’re trying to complete a task at hand, these tiny little distractions prevents your brain from getting into that phase of prolonged attention and you are therefore limiting your ability to fully complete the task at hand and actually prolonging your time to complete that task. Suggestions from him - turn off the e-mail notifications, put that phone on do not disturb, and completely immerse yourself into the task.  Try these out:

Practice deliberate meditation

I recently started using the app Headspace to help with deliberate meditation. I take about 5 minutes in the morning when I wake up, turn on the app, and start the guided meditation. You can go as short as 3 minutes if you’re pressed for time. It takes awhile to get started - there have been a couple times that I’ve actually fallen asleep when I first started meditating!


Block out time.

Taking time out of your day to complete a challenging task will help you actually sit down and complete the task. Mark Twain said eat the frog first thing in the morning <link to that post/quote> which essentially means do the thing you don’t want to do in the morning first, so you can get it out the way and you can feel productive and happy for the rest of the day. Nobody wants to do something challenging or icky, so setting out dedicated time in your day can help you complete that task.

Check out his book for more actionable steps to approach deep work.

I’d love to hear any other suggestions, comment below or send me a message!

To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.