Deep Work Philosophies
“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.” Concentration and disconnecting from the outside is a key skill for achievement. In this article I am listing some concentration philosophies, as described in an amazing book that I’ve read “Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport..
Deep working philosophies define different approaches for different achievements depending on your availability to disconnect (totally concentrate) .
The Monastic Philosophy
Completely, or almost completely, disconnect from the word. The monastic philosophy of deep working is based on the idea of minimizing as much as possible of shallow obligations. People who practice this type of deep working are generally hard to find or connect with in some way. They are also characterized with well defined high valued and complex professions. Researchers, novelists, and scientists are examples of such people. They do one thing exceptionally well and focus only on it. They are hard to replace kind of people.
By default they are in a mode of disconnection from the outer world. For example they spend 5-6 days a week doing what they do best, without a distraction.
The Bimodal Philosophy.
When you can’t completely disconnect yourself from the out side world. This philosophy emphasizes on dividing the time between completely deep working and shallow activities. The division is strictly defined. The division can happen on multiple scales, scale of week, scale of month,or scale of year. For example, on scale of week one can dedicate 3 days a week completely disconnected and focused on his work. On scale of month, dedicating the first two weeks of work can do the job. During deep working period the worker acts monastically as if he practices the monastic philosophy. However, he is completely shallow in the rest of the time. A worker that practices this philosophy attempts to reach maximum cognitive intensity, in contrast of rhythmic philosophy. This is why the minimum unite of work is one day.
The Rhythmic Philosophy (The chain method).
The idea behind this deep working philosophy is to maintain a chain of a deep working sessions. The deep working chain can be monthly, weekly, or daily. For example, you conduct deep working every day from 5:00 – 7:00 AM. The most important thing here is trying not to break the chain. This method is widely adopted by body builders and other sportsmen, not only thinker workers.
Rhythmic deep working makes it easy to start deep working as it turns it to a regular habit. The goal in other words is to generate a rhythm for deep working, this rhythm eliminates the need to invest energy in deciding if and when to go deep. When something becomes a habit it becomes more pleasant and easy to do, enjoyable when it has been done.
This philosophy is a good fit for people who have a full-time job and can’t disconnect for a couple of days as in the bimodal philosophy. This philosophy provides an interesting contrast to the bimodal philosophy. It maybe fails to achieve the deepest, most intense, levels of concentration and deep thinking as in the day-long concentration sessions. By the time your brain goes in its deepest thinking you’ll have to finish the session. You simply don’t have all day long.
The Journalist Philosophy.
This method can be summarized as: work whenever you find some time. At first, this philosophy can look very easy to conduct. You don’t setup any schedule, or try to create an unbreakable chain of deep working sessions. Just work when you get a chance. The facts are opposite. Switching to deep working in a short period of time is not an easy task. One has to be trained to shift between deep working and regular state of mind. This philosophy is not suitable for deep working novice. With practice, being confident in what you do, and considering the fact the conducted work is important you can start implement this method.
Let me give some examples. A meeting is rescheduled, now some space of two hours is opened, grab you laptop, books, whatever tools you need to let your mind dive deep. If you are a father and your children are sleeping or doing something that frees you from babysitting them this is another chance to deep work.
Depending on what your job is, what you try to achieve, and your current experience in going deep, pick the philosophy that suits you best. You can also be creative and craft your own philosophy. The goal at the end of the day is to do the job the best way It can be done !