Deep Work Book Review

I’ve spent the last week reading Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. It really helped me take a moment to reflect on something I already knew, my current lifestyle is causing me to have Attention deficit disorder (ADD). Prior to becoming a “blogger” had committed to removing as many apps from my phone as possible to be a “more connected” mother. Now I feel like I am constantly connected.  This is in an effort to get the blog up and running and also to get educated on how to build a blog. I am NOT a technically inclined person.  I am more of a science nerd.

All of my deep reading is done by the fire.

Learning how to set up a blog has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my adult life. My doctorate was easier for me.  As I’m figuring this stuff out I’m recognizing that my mind is suffering from constant distraction.  Ugh, can’t this picture to line up, time to click around and see if I have any new emails. I felt like this level of distraction was my normal that I will never be able to escape. Luckily, when I’m at work I am able to focus on the task at hand much easier.  When I’m with a patient they get 100% of my attention, charting, on the other hand, is a little trickier.  Most clinics have been moved to shared workspaces.  This book has helped me come up with a plan to hone my focus.  I suspect that I am like most working moms so I thought others might also need a little structure on getting their focus together.

One of the most inspirational quotes  I wrote drown from the book was “be productive, not busy.” 

Sharpening my Online Focus

This is my own personalized plan to get my head in check.
  • Get rid of the unnecessary.  I spent about two hours deleting and unsubscribing from emails until I realized I could use Unroll.me and complete the task in a matter of minutes.  I have a Fear of Missing out (FOMO) on good deals and free activities to take the kids.  This allows me to complete a quick scan daily.  All deals and upcoming events reviewed within a matter of seconds without multiple distractions during the day.
Mr. Miser doesn’t agree with allowing them to have my email info but it was AMAZING to look at my email multiple times during the day with NO emails. I find that I’m looking at my personal emails less.
  • Facebook Purge. As much as I hate that I still have a facebook account, I use it. To turn down the “noise”, I spent a considerable amount of time unfollowing (not unfriending) most of my “friends” and removed myself from as many groups as I could. I also went to notifications and then settings and turned off most alerts. If I don’t have your birthday on my personal calendar, the truth is I don’t care enough to give you a shout out.  
  • Set a deadline. The book doesn’t agree with setting a private deadline. It encourages public deadlines. Nobody cares about my “to do” list, so my own personal deadline is a must. This is specific for online deadlines.  
  • Set specific online times and blocks. There is no reason to scroll through Facebook in the elevator. This accomplishes nothing and it feels insane to be in an elevator with 5 other people all staring at their phones.  I will get much more enjoyment out of scheduling 30 minutes with a glass of wine to read some of my favorites.  I am still following Physician on Fire, Mr 1500, Choose FI and Phil Boucher.
  • To Do List. I LOVE using my phone’s To Do list.  I once read that remembering to get milk is a waste of your brain’s bandwidth.  It’s true! I use To Do List also to add a dose of dopamine when I check the item off of my items with deadlines.
  • Remove the ping. I have taken great effort to remove unnecessary notifications from my life yet I still had more pings than I wanted.  I had to leave my calendar reminders and scheduled items but I removed everything else.  I often wear an Apple watch while at work to make sure my kids’ school isn’t calling me. However, I left the stand-up ping and the hydration ping.  I was getting a ping an hour that caused me to stop and look at my watch with no benefit. I took those off and now I make sure I drink water between every patient and I stand up constantly so I don’t need an activity reminder.
  • Get rid of Text Mail.  Text mail is what someone should have sent you in an e-mail but instead sends you through a text message.  An example is “read this interesting article” messages. I requested that Mr. Miser only sends me emails throughout my workday.  If it’s a “who is picking up the kid?” message that deserves a text, otherwise email is sufficient.  I am much more likely to read the article/message thoughtfully if it’s on my timeline.  This has cut down on our interaction but it also helps me keep focus when working on a project. It has also increased my rate of reply to the message. 
  • Meditate. I suck at meditating but at least I’m trying.  Sometimes when I feel completely frazzled with a never-ending list of things I need to do, I will meditate with a pencil and paper.  A thought comes in, write down, release thought and focus on breath again.  Not sure if this is an “approved meditation” but I’m a rebel. I use the I’m waiting for a mom meditation that starts with “they tried your patience to the core today, then they cried because you cooked their noodles wrong, deep breath, forgive them, they are small and have no ability to show empathy and they lack emotional control, deep breath, watch your angry float away, deep breath… ”
  • You have more time than you think.  A while back I read 168 hours: you have more time than you think. It was a very eye opening read.  We feel like we have no choice but to multitask but this book might open you up to a new kind of awareness.
  • Distraction free punishment. I call it a punishment because they really are painful.  My rules for distraction-free moments include not using my phone during:
  1. Movies with the kids I’ve seen numerous times
  2. Elevators
  3. Waiting in line at the grocery store
  4. Dinner with Mr. Miser, this includes when I’m sitting alone at the table (this is the most brutal one)
  5. Running (it’s unreasonable to think I’m not going to break my leg looking down at my phone during a run)

Disclaimer: I receive a small portion from Amazon if you purchase from my links.  Please check out your local library first

All in all, I really enjoyed this book because it helped me bring to focus little nuances in my day that needed to be fixed.  I will continue to try to curb my appetite for little bursts of distractions. Hopefully, with some thoughtful planning, I’m not committing myself to a life of constant interference. 

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