Deep Work – The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World



Let your mind be a lens, thanks to the converging rays of attention.

– Antonin-Dalmace Sertillanges


In this age where complexity is ever increasing, deep work should be the norm. And that because understanding a complex world requires a great deal of focused work.

But staying focused on the work at hand requires a distraction free work environment. How many of us are capable of setting up that kind of work environment?

Not too many.

Some because we can’t, and some because of not knowing how to do it.

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Deep Work – Focused Work

But let’s start at the beginning. What exactly is deep work? And what is it’s opposite: shallow work?

Deep Work (or Focused Work): Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit.

These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.


Shallow Work (or Non-Focused, Mindless Work): Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted.

These efforts tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

(from Cal Newport’s book: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World )

Apparently, we need to do more deep work due to the increasing complexity of our world, but instead we seem to be doing more shallow work.

And that because we are constantly bombarded with an enormous quantity of stimuli. (how many times have you been interrupted since you started reading this article?)

Staying focused at work is energy consuming, and it pushes us to stretch our mental power beyond the usual to accomplish something of value.

But, the paradox is, shallow work is more energy consuming. This is due to the constant switch between activities. To add to this, there is also the frustration of having worked a lot but not having accomplished much at the end of the day.

It sounds like a good recipe for increased stress and burn-out.



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What about you? How much of your work day is spent staying focused?

Staying focused is becoming increasingly difficult nowadays. We would like to know how you manage to do it. And with what efforts? Are the benefits worth the efforts?

We have put together a 4 question survey. Let us know what is your experience. We will share the results in a future article.

Take the quiz



Photo Credit: Dustin Lee


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