#5 How deep is your Work


#5 How deep is your Work

What is deep work? Who is Cal Newport? In this weeks episode we talk about the importance of distraction-free work, deliberate practice, do we really like Facebook, the knowledge economy vs the industrial economy, shallow work, ethical apps, attention residue, intermittent rewards, Pokemon go, what motivates us to work, the death of the open office, Fog Creeks new offices, the Pomodoro technique, using your calendar to schedule deep work and using Anki to learn in a world of distraction.


  • Cal Newport
    • Claims that the ability to work Deeply is becoming the most valuable asset for our workser in our Knowledge economy at the same time as it is becoming increasingly rare.
    • “Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness,” Newport warns, “and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.”
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Flow
    • (video)
    • Flow: The Psychology of Happiness: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness (book)
      • What really makes people glad to be alive? What are the inner experiences that make life worthwhile? For more than two decades Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied those states in which people report feelings of concentration and deep enjoyment. His studies revealed that what makes experience genuinely satisfying is ‘flow’ – a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to complete absorption in an activity and results in the achievement of a perfect state of happiness. Flow has become the classic work on happiness and a major contribution to contemporary psychology. It examines such timeless issues as the challenge of lifelong learning; family relationships; art, sport and sex as ‘flow’; the pain of loneliness; optimal use of free time; and how to make our lives meaningful.
  • Structuring your office space
    • What these photos of Facebook’s new headquarters say about the future of work (article)
      • Absolutely crazy open office space design, that goes against the principles of good layouts for focused work
    • Planet Money Episode 704: Open Office Origins of the Open Office (podcast)
    • Fog Creek’s Office (article) – Joel Spolsky CEO and coFounder of Stack Overflow and cofounder of Fog Creek Software
      • It bears repeating that at Fog Creek our goal is building the best possible place for software developers to work. Finding a great space was not easy. Our ideal of giving every developer a private office is unusual, so it’s almost impossible to find prebuilt office space set up that way. That means we didn’t have much choice but to find the best raw space and then do our own interior construction.
      • Building great office space for software developers serves two purposes: increased productivity, and increased recruiting pull. Private offices with doors that close prevent programmers from interruptions allowing them to concentrate on code without being forced to stop and listen to every interesting conversation in the room. And the nice offices wow our job candidates, making it easier for us to attract, hire, and retain the great developers we need to make software profitably. It’s worth it, especially in a world where so many software jobs provide only the most rudimentary and depressing cubicle farms.
  • Pomodoro Technique (wikipedia)
    • Way to achieve focus on one task
  • Why Deep Work Matters in a Distracted World (Article)
    • NBA thinking about speeding up the end of games – source
  • Deep Work: The Secret to Achieving Peak Productivity (article)
    • “To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.”
    • “During these periods, which can last up to three or four days, he’ll often put an out of office auto-responder on his email so correspondents will know not to expect a response. “It sometimes confuses my colleagues,” he told me. “They say, ‘You’re not out of office, I see you in your office right now!’ ” But to Grant, it’s important to enforce strict isolation until he completes the task at hand.”
    • High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus).
    • “Unless your talent and skills absolutely dwarf those of your competition, the deep workers among them will outproduce you.”
    • “That quick check introduces a new target for your attention. Even worse, by seeing messages that you cannot deal with at the moment (which is almost always the case), you’ll be forced to turn back to the primary task with a secondary task left unfinished. The attention residue left by such unresolved switches dampens your performance.”
  • Why you should work 4 hours a day, according to science (article)
    • But there was something else that Ericsson and his colleagues noted in their study, something that almost everyone has overlooked. “Deliberate practice,” they observed, “is an effortful activity that can be sustained only for a limited time each day.” Practice too little and you never become world-class. Practice too much, though, and you increase the odds of being struck down by injury, draining yourself mentally, or burning out.
    • Ericsson and his colleagues observed another thing, in addition to practicing more, that separated the great students at the Berlin conservatory from the good, something that has been almost completely ignored since: how they rested. The top performers actually slept about an hour a day more than the average performers. They didn’t sleep late. They got more sleep because they napped during the day. Of course there was lots of variability, but the best students generally followed a pattern of practicing hardest and longest in the morning, taking a nap in the afternoon, and then having a second practice in the late afternoon or evening.
    • This illustrates a blind spot that scientists, scholars, and almost all of us share: a tendency to fixate on focused work, to assume that the road to greater creativity is paved by life hacks, propped up by eccentric habits, or smoothed by Adderall or LSD. Those who research world-class performance look only at what students do in the gym or practice room. Everybody concentrates on the most obvious, measurable forms of work and tries to make those more productive. They don’t ask whether there are other ways to improve performance and your life.
    • This is how we’ve come to believe that world-class performance comes after 10,000 hours of practice. But that’s wrong. It comes after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, 12,500 hours of deliberate rest, and 30,000 hours of sleep
  • What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work? (Ted Talk) – Dan Ariely · Behavioral economist
    • Intersting experimnets about how people are motivated by what they do
    • People want to feel like they’re constantly improving
    • Story of the guy would spent weeks creating a presentation only to find out it wasn’t needed – same idea witht the software company
  • Attention Economy – Wiki
  • Attention Economy marketers are killing not capturing attention
    • “there are a wealth of attention demands that didn’t previously exist: advertisers want your attention before you watch the next video on YouTube; your friends want your attention on SnapChat, Facebook, and text; and your colleagues and every marketer out there want your attention in your inbox.But there’s only so much attention to go around; whether it’s yours or your prospects”.
  • How to hack your calendar to maximise your effectiveness (Article) – Ryan Carson
    • List the top five high-level goals I need to work on.
    • Decide what percentage of my time should be allocated to each one.
    • Add them to your calendar
    • Fuck everything else
  • How technology hijacks peoples minds (article) – Tristan HarrisEx-Goole Design Ethicist
    • But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:
    • When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machineto see what notifications we got.
    • When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.
    • When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next.
    • When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.
    • When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.”
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