I have no time!
How often has an hour passed between the time you picked up your smartphone and the time you dropped it off?
In that hour, time stands still. You have browsed through a lot of content. Much more than if you had had to read a newspaper or a book, to physically go shopping and then to meet your friends. Your attention was fragmented by jumping from one subject to another or from one contact to another. And yet, you may be enjoying this activity.
It’s relaxing and it’s meant to connect us with all the things we shouldn’t miss. It feeds of our curiosity. It takes care of our memory. It takes charge of our critical sense.
No wonder this phone is called smart!
What’s interesting though is how much time we can spend in front of our screens. It’s the feeling of being there for a minute when it’s an hour. It’s the feeling of doing something important, somethimes indispensable. And above all, it’s not feeling that this time could be missed by other activities. While we perceive a value in the digital connection, what do we give up when we devote time to our screens? And how come that it’s so easy to give it up?
The answer in a virtual summit
Happy or sad coincidence, it is during the digital Vitra summit, in front of my computer screen, that I met Cal Newport. Cal Newport is American. He teaches computer science at Georgetown University. He has been studying the interactions between technology and culture for the past ten years.
In his book Deep work, this professor contrasts superficial work with deep work. Superficial work, as you will understand, consists of all tasks that can be done automatically or that could be outsourced to another person with a very short training time (about a week or less). For example, giving a thumbs up to a post, or replying to an email “I agree”, or navigating from one web page to another while only reading the titles. On the other hand, in-depth work would make it possible to generate a differentiating value that is not very accessible: that of focus. In a state of focus, the human being goes beyond his own limits. He provides quality AND in-depth work. And he is satisfied with what he has produced because his body will have felt the effort and its effects. Finally, the result of these efforts will not be easily copied or interchangeable since it is in-depth work. Deep work would enrich your own skills and maintain your exclusiveness. This can be useful in a mode of career obsolescence and replaceability, right?
I’d love to, but how ?
The book gives many strategies to increase the amount of in-depth work while keeping some of the superficial work. Amateurs of planning and rituals, you will be served!
Starting point: a working day punctuated by the untimely disturbance xhether desired or imposed. it can be notifications, conversations, e-mails, administrative tasks or other short-term solicitations. Not a minute to yourself.
Arrival point: Delimited time spaces conducive to in-depth work and sufficient to produce the desired quality work. It would seem that Man is at most capable of 4 hours of intense focus daily. Sometimes two hours a day is enough to make a huge difference!
Between the two, there is the abandonment of potential sources of distraction and the plunge in an environment favorable to concentration.
And to get results, choose a subject of focus that brings more satisfaction than what you get from surfing the Internet or social networks. This way, it will be easier to give up superficiality. In other words, you will easily be enthusiastic about the idea of in-depth working.