I had a relaxing interlude just after New Years and was able to take my time reading two excellent books that I wholeheartedly recommend to you. Both contribute to creative work in different, but substantial ways.
The first is called “Deep Work” by Cal Newport (Grand Central Publishing, 2016).
You engage in deep work when you perform in “a state of distraction-free concentration that push(es) your cognitive capabilities to their limit,” writes Newport. It’s the antithesis of multitasking and is centered around living a focused life.
It involves organizing your life in such a way that you can get “long, consecutive, uninterrupted time chunks.” It’s a skill that has significant value if you need to learn complicated work in a short period of time, and if you want to create something of value, whether a computer program, a novel, a marketing campaign or a new process or service.
To succeed in such pursuits, argues Newport, “you have to produce the absolute best stuff you’re capable of producing —a task that requires depth.” Newport not only points out the value of deep work, he shows you how to do it.
Newport freely admits that there’s an uneasiness that accompanies deciding that you’re going to produce you’re very best work. It requires hard work and a restructuring of your comfortable habits of rapid email messaging, social media, texting and other quick, but more shallow methods of working.
However, the rewards can be thrilling. “…if you’re willing to ….struggle to deploy your mind to its fullest capacity,” writes Newport, “to create things that matter, then you’ll discover, as others have before you, that depth generates a life rich with productivity and meaning.”
Cal Newport (2016). Deep Work, Grand Central Publishing, (296).