If you want to be in control of your digital wellbeing by lowering workplace overwhelm and improving your performance then getting yourself used to doing Deep Work is imperative. We talk about this in our learning programmes at Shine Offline and use this discipline daily as a team. Our inspiration comes from academic and author Cal Newport, whose brilliant book Deep Work defines the practise as “…the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task”.
It has been proven that multitasking is a myth. The human brain is not capable of focusing on two things at once. Instead what we do is ‘task flitting’, a practise that makes us less productive as we lose time regaining concentration after each interruption. And is it any wonder that we are all flitting between tasks and find it difficult to focus when we live in a world of distraction?
For example, some recent research found that 70% of work email was opened within 6 seconds. It is normal these days to work in response mode, ready to jump at every incoming email, each ping of the smartphone or switch to another tab on the computer when we hit a challenging task. These constant distractions and connectivity is not only unhelpful it is damaging. Staying in a perpetual “shallow” state of work trains your brain in distraction making it increasingly difficult to concentrate. This means many of us rarely get in a state of flow, the state where we produce our best work, are happiest and find purpose. If you can master the skill of finding your flow and learn to focus in a distracted world this can help increase your digital wellbeing and help you to really shine in your work.
Start to follow these three simple steps and you’ll find yourself working a more focused way.
- Create and write down a schedule for your day – what do you need to accomplish and what times are you going to do them? Your inbox is one of the biggest forms of distraction so decide the times when you will check and process your emails. Importantly set aside time for demanding, difficult or important tasks for focused ‘deep work’ when you can work without distraction.
- Remove digital distractions – when focusing on a task close your inbox, put phones out of sight, place them on flight or DND mode or use apps like OFFTIME or FOREST to help eliminate or minimize interruptions. It’s about doing whatever it takes to let yourself focus on the main thing you’re trying to accomplish.
- Set a time limit – if you have become used to working in a distracted way it can take time to build your capacity to focus for periods of time. Start by setting yourself a timer for 25 minutes but stay on the allocated task – you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve! With practice, you can build the capacity for deep and focused work to longer periods.
Remember it is in your power to transform your mind and habits, to reclaim your focus and escape from constantly being in reactive and response mode.