Deep Work, an invaluable skill scarce in our modern world, has in the past two years become one of the most incumbent qualities for society, from being in the workplace, to beginning a business, to studying at home.
In a world that promotes instant hits of dopamine, it has seemingly become increasingly challenging for us to achieve focused success in a world which is pervaded with multifarious distractions pulling us in at every second. One minute, there is a TikTok notification, and the next, your favourite influencer has made an Instagram post, and then, there is a new YouTube video released.
And what’s worse is that, it’s not just speculation, people are aware that it happens too. A survey taken by King’s College London on a group of UK adults showed that more than 50% of adults admit they struggle to resist checking their smartphone during tasks that require great focus. Already, these results present just how consumed society is by modern interferences.
Needless to say, in modern society, we almost never manage to work without distractions. We merely find it too challenging for ourselves, but wish that we could somehow eradicate all these shortcomings in our productivity.
The skill to achieve this is called, “Deep Work”, which Cal Newport, who is author of the book Deep Work, defines as being the ability to focus on a cognitively demanding task whilst eliminating distractions, to truly accelerate your productivity, concentration and quality of work. But this skill isn’t facile though, as with modern technology and distractions, the ability to perform Deep Work is becoming increasingly rare.
That being said, the benefits of being able to master this skill are permanent. Not only will your productivity drastically escalate, but the quality, efficiency and standard of your work and everything you do in life will only go up.
But how do we master this desired skill? In Cal Newport’s book, there are four key methods outlined to do so, one of which is to “Quit Social Media.”
It’s conspicuous – since 2020, our attention span has dramatically declined. As millions faced boredom in lockdown, and with the forceful introduction of ten-second, short format videos all over the internet, it’s now seen as a common phenomenon for teenagers and adults to mindlessly continue scrolling for hours and hours, and for them to barely be able to do a homework task or read a book without their mind wandering every few minutes. This proved to be detrimental to focus and productivity, and with the incessant introduction of new technology to hook more of the vulnerable, only exacerbated it further than it already was. Hence why it has only become more vital that it is obligatory to abstain from social media if we want to maintain focus on tasks, that too of heavy, cognitively demanding tasks that require full concentration.
Another method Newport touched on was, “Drain The Shallows”. This goes hand in hand with social media – in order to accomplish Deep Work, you need to intentionally omit the more dangerous, shallow activities such as meetings, phone calls, talking to colleagues etc. The truth is that these superfluous activities consume far too much time, which won’t ever provide you the possibility to work deeply.
We often place the idea in our head that these activities are necessary, or constantly having breaks is requisite, but in reality are most of the time excuses (because of our short attention span) and only interrupt our workflow by constantly switching focuses. In lieu, to master Deep Work, we have to make it mandatory to set this as our top priority. Depth in any task requires true focus, not the impede of shallow tasks which only deduct valuable time from our schedules.
Also, the pure damage these shallow tasks do is often misjudged. With so much time misused, we often never leave enough to schedule and plan our days. Newport suggests that this is what prevents people from achieving maximum productivity to conduce a deep workflow.
Deep Work is a powerful skill, and is becoming even more powerful by the day. It is complicated, and for some takes years of practice to accomplish, especially with the hardships you will encounter such as “Quitting Social Media”. However, if you do master the four rules of Deep Work, the results will inevitably show through. Your habits, work ethic and discipline has to completely change, and it is a difficult transition. But the rewards are admirable, and the benefits go a long way. By becoming one of the very few who integrate this skill as part of their daily life, you can truly outwork everyone and achieve extraordinary success in the modern world.