The more comfortable way you follow your heart’s choice, the more successful you are.Just take it easy and effective.
To combat the trap of putting a premium on being busy,Cal Newport,author of Deep work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted world,recommends building a habit of “deep work”—the ability to focus without distraction.
There are a number of approaches to mastering the art of deep work—be it lengthy retreats dedicated to a specific task;developing a daily ritual;or taking a “journalistic” approach to seizing moments of deep work when you can throughout the day. Whichever approach,the key is to determine your length of focus time and stick to it.Newport also recommends “deep scheduling” to combat constant interruptions and get more done in less time.“At any given point,I should have deep work scheduled for roughly the next month.Once on the calendar I protect this time like I would a doctor’s appointment or important meeting”,he writes.
Another approach to getting more done in less time is to rethink how you prioritize your day—in particular how we craft our to-do lists.Tim Harford, author of Messy:The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives,points to a study in the early 1980s that divided undergraduates into two groups:some were advised to set out monthly goals and study activities;others were told to plan activities and goals in much more detail,day by day.
While the researchers assumed that the well-structured daily plans would be most effective when it came to the execution of tasks,they were wrong:the detailed daily plans demotivated students.Harford argues that inevitable distractions often render the daily to-do list ineffective,while leaving room for improvisation in such a list can reap the best results.
In order to make the most of our focus and energy. We also need to embrace downtime,or as Newport suggests,“be lazy.”
“Idleness is not just a vacation,an indulgence or a vice;it is as indispensable to be brain as Vitamin D is to the body…[idleness]is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done,”he argues.
Srini Pillay,an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School,believes this counter-intuitive link between downtime and productivity may be due to the way our brains operate When our brains switch between being focused and unfocused on a task,they tend to be more efficient.
“What people don’t realise is that in order to complete these tasks they need to use both the focus and unfocus circuits in their brain”. says Pillay.
That everyone’s too busy these days is a cliché. But one specific complaint is made especially mournfully： There’s never any time to read.
What makes the problem thornier is that the usual time-management techniques don’t seem sufficient. The web’s full of articles offering tips on making time to read: “Give up TV” or “Carry a book with you at all times” But in my experience, using such methods to free up the odd 30 minutes doesn’t work. Sit down to read and the flywheel of work-related thoughts keeps spinning-or else you’re so exhausted that a challenging book’s the last thing you need. The modern mind, Tim Parks, a novelist and critic, writes, “is overwhelmingly inclined toward communication…It is not simply that one is interrupted; it is that one is actually inclined to interruption”. Deep reading requires not just time, but a special kind of time which can’t be obtained merely by becoming more efficient.
In fact, “becoming more efficient” is part of the problem. Thinking of time as a resource to be maximised means you approach it instrumentally, judging any given moment as well spent only in so far as it advances progress toward some goal immersive reading, by contrast, depends on being willing to risk inefficiency, goallessness, even time-wasting. Try to slot it as a to-do list item and you’ll manage only goal-focused reading-useful, sometimes, but not the most fulfilling kind. “The future comes at us like empty bottles along an unstoppable and nearly infinite conveyor belt,” writes Gary Eberle in his book Sacred Time, and “we feel a pressure to fill these different-sized bottles (days, hours, minutes）as they pass, for if they get by without being filled, we will have wasted them”. No mind-set could be worse for losing yourself in a book.
So what does work? Perhaps surprisingly, scheduling regular times for reading. You’d think this might fuel the efficiency mind-set, but in fact, Eberle notes, such ritualistic behaviour helps us “step outside time’s flow” into “soul time”. You could limit distractions by reading only physical books, or on single-purpose e-readers. “Carry a book with you at all times” can actually work, too-providing you dip in often enough, so that reading becomes the default state from which you temporarily surface to take care of business, before dropping back down. On a really good day, it no longer feels as if you’re “making time to read,” but just reading, and making time for everything else.
Habits are a funny thing. We reach for them mindlessly, setting our brains on auto-pilot and relaxing into the unconscious comfort of familiar routine. “Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd,” William Wordsworth said in the 19th century. In the ever-changing 21st century, even the word “habit” carries a negative implication.
So it seems paradoxical to talk about habits in the same context as creativity and innovation. But brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks.
Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try—the more we step outside our comfort zone—the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.
But don’t bother trying to kill off old habits; once those ruts of procedure are worn into the brain, they’re there to stay. Instead, the new habits we deliberately ingrain into ourselves create parallel pathways that can bypass those old roads.
“The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder,” says Dawna Markova, author of The Open Mind and an executive change consultant for Professional Thinking Partners. “But we are taught instead to ‘decide,’ just as our president calls himself ‘the Decider.’ ” She adds, however, that “to decide is to kill off all possibilities but one. A good innovational thinker is always exploring the many other possibilities.”
All of us work through problems in ways of which we’re unaware, she says. Researchers in the late 1960 discovered that humans are born with the capacity to approach challenges in four primary ways: analytically, procedurally, relationally (or collaboratively) and innovatively. At the end of adolescence, however, the brain shuts down half of that capacity, preserving only those modes of thought that have seemed most valuable during the first decade or so of life.
The current emphasis on standardized testing highlights analysis and procedure, meaning that few of us inherently use our innovative and collaborative modes of thought. “This breaks the major rule in the American belief system — that anyone can do anything,” explains M. J. Ryan, author of the 2006 book This Year I Will…” and Ms. Markova’s business partner. “That’s a lie that we have perpetuated, and it fosters commonness. Knowing what you’re good at and doing even more of it creates excellence.” This is where developing new habits comes in.