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Tip 124: Cognitive Capacity

What is “deep work”? In the book, Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport defines this term as “the activity of focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It describes when you are really locked into doing something hard with your mind.”

Newport outlines four rules of deep work.

  1. Work Deeply. To successfully integrate more deep work into your professional life, actively fight to incorporate this into your schedule. Include deep work blocks on your calendar and protect the time like you would a meeting or appointment.

  2. Embrace Boredom. Concentration is a skill you must train. To get started, frequently expose yourself to boredom instead of looking for outside stimuli. Your brain must be trained to think deeply about something.

  3. Quit Social Media. Be intentional and selective about which apps and services you allow into your digital life. Protect your ability to focus by eliminating the clutter and distractions that pull at your attention and manipulate your mood.

  4. Drain the Shallows. Shallow work is anything that doesn’t require uninterrupted concentration. Work aggressively to minimize answering emails or scheduling meetings during your deep work. Be intentional, organized, and proactive in how you eliminate distractions.

In your workplace, step back and remember what is valuable. Take time to cultivate your power to work deeply. Make room for it.


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