Our world has become a very distracted place with email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and other digital taps on the shoulder competing for our attention.
Of all the time we spend keeping up to date on these platforms, how much of it is really useful?
In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport makes the case that we all do way too much shallow work and not enough deep work. In addition to the electronic distractions, we are attending too many meetings and doing too much low-value work instead of getting important stuff done.
One of the most compelling suggestions Newport makes is to schedule time in our calendars to work on the deep stuff. I am now setting aside two hours each day exclusively for important work that needs my full, undivided attention. Following Newport’s guidelines, I am turning off my email, closing my door, having my desk clean and my coffee in place, and focusing completely on the task at hand. I do this in two solid one-hour blocks each day. The results have been impressive. While my big, high-priority tasks were on my to-do list each day, they often got shoved aside by new issues. Most of the new issues were not as important as the big items, but somehow, being new, they captured my attention and the day ended without the big items getting done.
My advice: schedule solid, uninterrupted time for your most important task or two each day and let the other stuff fill in the gaps, instead of the other way around.