11:00 PM, Sunday Night
Sunday night, a bit out of sorts, because even though I had a good weekend and got a lot done, I still feel like I could use more down time. My soul could use a patch right now. I hear coconut oil is good for just about everything, maybe that will help. 😊
I’m feeling blue these days, and I realize it’s because I am not really talking to the people in my inner circle. Most of my calls and conversations are very surface, and it is intentional on my part. I don’t want to express my thoughts or fears because at times they run deep and dark, and I don’t want to ride those rapids. And so I am starting to feel alienated and a bit defensive and reluctant to open up.
I don’t think I’m alone. And if I am not the only one feeling this way, that is also of concern, because it means that we are isolating ourselves in a time where we should be reaching out. But it feels unsafe to do so with the current climate and mood. Strange days indeed. There is a hyper-sensitivity in our national and familial discourse these days, even with the people we typically agree with. This is very destabilizing. Is this what some of our world leaders want?
So, I don’t know how to bridge the gap, and it is not my intent to add to the negativity out there, but I’m struggling tonight and had to acknowledge this publicly, on the off chance that it may somehow break the communication logjam that I am feeling, or at the very least, help others who may be feeling the same way.
I’ve been working my tail off for several months, about 60-70 hours per week, and when I stop and reflect, it’s because of this overwhelming desire to contribute positively to the world. And so, while I have the difficult moments, I also remain optimistic about the possibility that we can turn this ship around.
To that end, I listened recently to an interview with Cal Newport who just published Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. The interview was exceptional, and some key points that can help in any work environment include:
· Be strategic about what you are trying to accomplish. In this interview Cal talks about his approach to his first book, and how he went about determining what to write, and how to meet the deadline as an unproven writer. He also talks about the lessons he learned, and how he now approaches his writing differently. This can be applied to any endeavor: Approach a goal with a strategy, and learn as much as you can beforehand, so you don’t spin your wheels.
· Deadlines and procrastination: If you are a true professional at your job, you will treat your work process and flow with respect, and work through the times that you’d rather be doing other tasks. If you are on deadline, it is unprofessional to jam all the work into a short period of time. By working backwards from a deadline and breaking the work into chunks, you will end up with a much better final product. This will also reflect well on the other areas of your work life.
· To maintain flow, separate the high-level thinking from the lower level planning functions. This allows the deeper flow state when working with sophisticated ideas and thoughts, and allows you to tackle the less taxing planning functions at times you may not be as fresh or sharp.
Cal believes that the ability to focus intensely is a Tier One skill in our knowledge economy, and that those who can do deep work will have a massive competitive advantage over those who have not cultivated that skill. He believes that this skill should be pursued both actively and passively.
Active pursuit involves distraction free periods of concentration, and doing exercises to maintain focus. Less obvious are the ways that we can passively train our brains, and it has to do with “the steady bath of novel stimuli that our brains are exposed to.” He recommends building up your tolerance for boredom, so that when you do have to sit down and concentrate, you aren’t struggling against the addiction that our social media/internet habits have created. Resisting the pull is practice, and this practice can lay the foundation for being able to sustain intense focus in order to create something of real value.
So, on this Sunday night, as I let myself drop into some work, I find my mood lifting, and my focus returning to what I can create to make a ripple of positive effect in these interesting times.
Comments and feedback welcome.
Self Publishing School Podcast: