And differentiate yourself as an expert.
We’re familiar with the laws of supply and demand. Even with modest demand, when there’s scarcity the price and value of the item or skill in question rises significantly. From rare bottles of wine, to bitcoins, to computer scientists…people will pay more.
What if there was a surefire way to differentiate yourself as a high performer? As a unique asset to your team? Or even to make a career pivot?
UNLOCK THE SUPER POWER of DEEP WORK*
It’s like soccer practice or piano lessons for adults.
Here’s the not-so-secret sauce:
UNPLUG and DO THE WORK!
In a culture of distractions…
UPDATE YOUR iOS – 3 NEW TEXT MESSAGES – UNREAD EMAIL W/TEASER – REMINDER ALERT: ORDER BIRTHDAY PRESENT – SLACK NOTIFICATION – SEE WHAT YOU MISSED ON FACEBOOK
…it feels like a luxury to sit down and REALLY LEARN SOMETHING. To know it inside and out.
Many people used to call this a typical day at the office. Now it’s an anomaly. It’s in scarce supply.
IT DOESN’T TAKE YEARS TO BECOME AN EXPERT. IT TAKES FOCUS.
I’m not here to knock technology. I love technology. So many great breakthroughs in healthcare, design and entertainment add longevity and vibrancy to life because of technology.
I’m simply calling to your attention what Cal Newport walked through in his book, Deep Work:
ANYONE CAN DIFFERENTIATE THEMSELVES BY COMMITTING TO DEEP WORK
And when you commit to it you’ll see ABUNDANCE in your life as the demand for the value you add increases.
What is deep work?
Cal Newport defines it: “Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy.”
So how does this SUPER POWER – DEEP WORK actually work?
4 Steps to Unlocking the Super Power of Deep Work:
- Establish Clarity – Define Your Goal
- Schedule Time for Deep Work
- Unplug and Do the Work
- Measure Your Progress
Establish Clarity – Define Your Goal
You need clarity to get started and stay the course. If you know what to do when you have time blocked you can get to work instead of spending half the time contemplating 10 things you could work on deciding which one you feel like doing. You need a defined and challenging yet attainable goal in order to get into zone (or flow state).
Examples – Master the python programming language. Know the key market players and industry trends in the athleisure wear category. Become an expert at making scones. Learn that system at work that no one can figure out.
Schedule Time for Deep Work
You CAN fit this into your busy schedule.
You can arrive at the office a little earlier than others and spend time each morning and work without your email, IM, slack, etc.
You can block 45-minute chunks of working time and check your email and respond to team members at the beginning of each hour.
You can clear a day a quarter or a week a of “fake PTO”. You know the drill, block your calendar in that purple out of office and don’t take any meetings and instead of using the time to “catch up” on email and other low-level tasks, use it for deep work. Just make sure you also take REAL PTO!
Cal Newport has several strategies for how to schedule deep work that fits all careers and family stages in his book.
Unplug & Do the Work
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Academic theories are great, but how do you actually do the work?
You have to do everything possible to force yourself to do the work.
This is difficult at first, but will become a practice that you get better at over time, a skill enabling you to really learn things and become an expert quickly.
This means removing distractions. Close out of all reminder and alert applications on your computer (no outlook, no gmail, no web browsers). Put your phone across the room – face down.
Set a timer and go. You can start with smaller intervals and work your way up.
If you’re at home and you need more drastic measures have someone else take your phone and computer for a set period of time and put that pen to paper.
Any amount of progress is positive.
If you really need to look something up try to move to something else. If you do actually need to check something to move forward force yourself to wait 1 minute before looking it up. This slight delay will separate the feeling of instant gratification from the use of the technology.
Measure Your Progress
This is easy. It’s hours of deep work.
Track it in a visible location. I prefer a piece of paper on the wall.
What gets measured gets managed.
When you actually unplug and execute you’ll gain knowledge really quickly. Then suddenly you’re the expert. The go to person.
What’s awesome about this is after you do it for one thing your brain gets better at focusing on deep or meaningful work. And staying current and moving to the next thing you set out to mater gets easier and easier. That initially difficult execution step falls into place.
What will you focus on to DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF?
*term coined by Cal Newport in his book, Deep Work.
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