Making Deep Work a Priority in a Distracted World

 Sub-Optimal Work
Spending 6 hours wandering in Ikea while perhaps fun, is not the best use of time. In Cal Newport’s Deep Work,  not all work hours are created equal – deep work is that which is spent optimally working in concentrated efforts without interrupted. Cal suggests that deep work spent on cognitively demanding tasks is best done in the morning and free from distraction so that the brain is naturally rewarded with a sense of accomplishment earlier on.
In reality, we can call resonate with the fact that much of our workdays get sunk into emails and meetings; and the insanity of it seems to be that we spend countless hours going back and forth sending emails to schedule meetings. Those hours wasted could be spent securing deals, creating great products and hiring the best talent. A full 70% of a typical CEO’s schedule is spent on sub-optimal work instead of “deep work.”
Reducing the “Noise”
Of course, there are several other awesome productivity tools such as Slack, Bluejeans, Basecamp and others that help teams collaborate and communicate more effectively, but at the end of the day, it’s important to be able to have something to show for your time. Communication tools are just that – tools. They can be used to simplify processes, steer a team in the right direction and breakdown necessary tasks, OR be used to create more, “noise” which in turn creates friction and miscommunication.
“Noise” is the unnecessary and distracting chatter, content or anything in the way of getting you to achieve your one goal. “Friction” is any thing or activity that impedes your ability to complete a task such as hurdles that you have to jump through unnecessarily to get to your end objective (more on creating a frictionless product here). Most of UX/UI design is centered around reducing friction for customers.

If you want to make something happen in your life, chances are good that you’re not doing it already because of friction.

Some friction is inevitable – the very act of tracking productivity may be defined as friction. Don’t get me wrong, I do think making everyday tasks as frictionless as possible is ideal, but friction in itself is not bad.
Did you know that some of the best UX is actually wrought with friction? Ikea is one of the best examples. Ikea stores are intentionally designed full of friction like I mentioned earlier – you have to meander through a maze of departments in order to get to the item you want. They WANT you to take your time looking at the latest trends in housewares and design before you get to the checkout. This is very intentional. It’s as if to say, they want you to be counterproductive.
However, if you ask Bill Gates or Arianna Huffington one thing they have in common, you’ll find that they both have an affinity for the word, “focus.” This I emphasize to say that those who become the best at focusing in a world full of constant distractions will be the most successful.
As an Executive Assistant, I find myself pining over the best tools and processes to help C-suite executives focus on the tasks that matter most in order to make every work hour count. Think of how much more profitable companies could be if their senior management’s days were centered around this approach?
With that, here are a few articles on productivity in the workforce:
Got a productivity hack or app to share? Share in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *