Rule #2: Embrace Boredom

Cal argues that your ability to concentrate is an acquired skill. Just like exercise, you need to give rest to your brain to further strengthen this ability. This is explained by the example of orthodox Jews congregating at synagogues, where they focus deeply thinking about Rabbinic Judaism. In an interview, Adam Marlin told Cal that his practice with Talmud pages each day has helped him run his growing business.

Clifford Nass’s research reveals that people who multitask frequently cannot filter out irrelevant things. They are “chronically distracted”.

Theodore Roosevelt used to study little and yet score well. He was able to do so because he used to allocate specific periods of time for studies during which he would “laser focus”.

Given these observations, Cal suggests instead of taking breaks from distractions to focus, you take breaks from focus. This will help strengthen your “focus muscles” as it were. Thinking on specific problems while being physically occupied such as taking walks or cooking; being wary of distractions and structuring your deep thinking sessions will also help accelerate the exercise.

Rule #3: Quit Social Media

Network Tools, defined earlier, fragment our time which is contradictory to the theory of attention residue.

Some people take an “all-in or nothing” approach to quitting social media, like Baratunde Thurston. This approach is too crude to be useful in practice.

First, you need to accept that network tools are not inherently evil, some are indeed useful in your specific professional circumstances.

Then you can think like a craftsman in deciding which tools are objectively adding value to your life. Cal points out that people choose to use networks tools without deliberating over its usefulness. Cal calls this approach “The Any-Benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection”:

“You’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don’t use it.”

The problem with this approach is that it ignores all the negatives associated with the tools and avoids deliberate reasoning to objectively measure its usefulness. A better approach than any-benefit approach is “The Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection”:

“Identify the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.”

Applying the strategy of minimalism will help you decide which network tools are absolutely necessary for your profession and get rid of all others. You can experiment with disabling the use of such tools and measuring its negative impact on your life. Put more thought in your leisure time to further clarify what tools to use.

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Next issue: Deep Work Summary Part 6 (Rule #4: Drain the Shallows)

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