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.

Recommended by James Raymond, Manager - Research & Analysis at Vancouver Economic Commission