How to Actually, Truly Focus on What You’re Doing

by Tim Herrera

Here’s what my browser generally looks like: work email in the left-most tab, always open. TweetDeck in the next one, always open. A few Google Docs tabs with projects I’m working on, followed by my calendar, Facebook, YouTube, this publication’s website and about 10 stories I want to read — along with whatever random shiny thing comes across my desktop. (Not to mention my iPhone constantly nagging me, though I’ve mostly fixed that problem.)

This is no way to work! It’s awful, and my attention is divided across a dozen different things. My situation is far from unique, and most people who do most of their work on a computer know it all too well.

Enter “deep work,” a concept coined by one of my favorite thinkers in this space, Cal Newport. He published a book in 2016 by that name, and in it he details his philosophy and strategy for actually focusing on the things we can do and accomplish.

This week I’ve invited Cal, whose new book, “Digital Minimalism,” comes out next month, to talk about how to do deep work, why it matters and how we can use it in our lives.

Tim Herrera: Hey, Cal! Thanks so much for chatting with me this week. For those who don’t know: What exactly is deep work?

Cal Newport: Deep work is my term for the activity of focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It describes, in other words, when you’re really locked into doing something hard with your mind.

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JoAnn Schauf

JoAnn Schauf, Founder of Your Tween & You, began her professional counseling career in California. Later, as a counselor in schools and colleges in Texas, JoAnn supported students, families and educators providing guidance, designing and presenting professional development, and creating innovative programs. A sought-after coach and speaker, JoAnn empowers and inspires adults and adolescents with the system and secrets to thrive together. She understands that it’s challenging to be in the body of an adolescent, and equally frustrating to be the parent of one. Those she’s touched call her the “Parent Whisperer” because what they learn and apply transforms their relationships with their children.