How do you get the idea of memorizing a deck of cards? Has the guy, the writer, me, nothing better to do? Are you going to the casino now?
The idea of wanting to remember a deck of cards was made palatable to me in the book Deep Work. This book, which I can highly recommend, is about ways in which we can work concentrated again and be more effective and satisfied.
The card exercise is about neuroplasticity and how we promote it: Doing something new, doing mental work, remembering abstract content in a focused manner. Making music is a wonderful representative and a fountain of youth for body and mind!
In fact, I only started memorizing cards three days ago and that day I was able to say 16 cards in the correct order after looking at them once. This could only be crowned with success without distraction and with full concentration and the appropriate attention span. It may only be 16 cards but I’m a bit proud of myself.
We are surrounded by distractions these days. Something anywhere, anytime, wants our attention. Distractions are the norm, rest and a longer period without interruption are rare. Making matters worse: Many employers favor some form of occupational therapy and superficiality. E-mails have to be processed immediately and many people check their inboxes even after work.
Some may cry out now and think that this is necessary, the writer of Deep Work and I see it differently. It is our attitude and habit that make us the driven animal. Fortunately, concepts such as the four-hour week are becoming increasingly popular. They show that concentrated work supports more efficiency and satisfaction on the part of the employee and the employer.
1. Eliminate habits that encourage attention-grabbing background processes:
Social media, constant phone checking, starting the day with checking e-mails, avoiding “occupational therapy”.
Something new to learn, create new neural pathways
3. Relaxation for the mind:
Take relaxing breaks between the deep work units and draw a clear line at the end of the work day
Reading e-mails and especially answering immediately can usually wait. It is up to us to decide whether to invite saber-toothed tigers into our lives as stressors in the form of e-mails. With a clear message to the colleagues that an immediate answer cannot be expected, the people around you know what to expect. In addition, the conditioning of the environment that writes e-mails that are full of short, open questions and whose answering can take a very long time to be switched off.
Perhaps this behavior and the setting of clear barriers meet irritation and some people react in shock at first if you allow yourself this freedom. It’s worth it in the long term and the company should be grateful.
There are clear statistics, which are also mentioned in the book, which reveal superficial work, or “shallow work” for short (the main thing is that you do something until the end of the day), as an expensive waste of resources.
Deep Work describes the work rhythm of 90 minutes of deep work and 90 minutes of break or light work. Deepwork is intensive work that is allowed to push our brain to the limit. Intensive research, reading, writing, creating. Everything that feels really exhausting and after which the head first needs a break falls into this roughly defined category.
A 90 minute break is then very important to allow the attention, the senses (nowadays especially the eyes) and the mind to relax. It’s best to get out in the fresh air and take a walk. Watching birds, listening to the wind and feeling barefoot walking on the meadow are hereby named as very healing representatives.
After three 90-minute blocks of concentrated work with the respective break in between, fun is over and the mind should remain free of work thoughts until the next day. A clear decision and setting limits are key here.
No emails are answered in the evening either. On closer inspection, the world does not end if the oh-so-urgent task is tackled with a new freshness tomorrow. Why is that important? Regeneration of creative resources should be mentioned here briefly. If our mind is constantly busy with something in the background and we repeatedly trigger “work”, then recovery is difficult. Sleep problems, cravings, high blood pressure and depression can be the consequences.
The way out is to communicate clearly again and to keep in mind that after a certain time work is “over”. A ritual that ushers in the evening is mentioned in the book as an effective habit.
“Now it’s the end of the day”, speaking out loud sends our brain clear signals and it knows that it can now take a break.
A positive effect of deep work is increased productivity, balance and satisfaction. We then often feel an increased self-efficacy, more freedom and overall have more time for the things that actually count.
I tried the principle and the recommendations for deep work myself and I am very happy that I got involved. I have not taken care of time wasters like social media anyway, and e-mails and other resource hogs of a human or technical nature are increasingly being checked and only have limited access to my time. I feel that this way of working is self-determined and I am happy with it.
Have fun exploring deep work and setting healthy limits.