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  • Writer's pictureRich Haglund

What might Yoda say about distraction and professional satisfaction and success?

May the Fourth be with you.

Yoda didn't like the active voice or being consistent with tenses. But, if he did, and if he were feeling long-winded, he might say things like these:

  • "Deep work can generate as much satisfaction in an information economy as it so clearly does in a craft economy." -- Cal Newport, Deep Work.

  • "Finding novelty is only possible when we give ourselves the time to focus intently on a task and look hard for the variability." -- Nir Eyal, Indistractable.

Cal Newport lays out the case for deep work:

Your work is a craft and if you hone your ability and apply it with respect and care, then you can generate meaning in the daily efforts of your professional life.

He adds, "The meaning uncovered is due to the skill and appreciation inherent in craftsmanship—not the outcomes of their work. You don’t need a rarefied job; you need instead a rarefied approach to your work."

Newport then describes what's needed to regularly engage in satisfying, deep work. "Rewire your brain to be comfortable resisting distracting stimuli." He offers several "rock solid routines" to resist distraction.

Nir Eyal states that "attention and focus are the raw materials of human creativity and flourishing." He invites us to reimagine our tasks, our temperament, and the internal triggers that lead to "unhealthy escape[s] from reality." He offers a number of useful recommendations for overcoming the desire for distraction, including looking for the discomfort that precedes the distraction, focusing on the internal trigger.

Why should we take the time to understand what deep work is, what it can do for us, and how to engage in it more often? This statement from Newport alarms me: "People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevance. They can’t manage a working memory." Not only do we risk reducing our working memory, but we limit our ability to focus on anything, even the things we see as most important - like time with those we love: "Once your brain has become accustomed to on-demand distraction, it’s hard to shake the addition even when you want to concentrate." We become chronically distracted.

In summary, as Yoda might say, "Reduce distractions, increase deep work, and satisfying professional and personal life you will have."

EXTRA CREDIT: Given Newport's comparison of knowledge work and craft work, check out Shopclass as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford! Here's the essay which was adapted into this book.

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