Deep Work

Cal Newport wrote in Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, “The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it core to their working life, will thrive.”

Life has a rhythm. Each day is a rhythm of sleep, rising, eating, working, relaxing, sleep. Each week is a rhythm. Even the months and the years.

There are times for focus and concentration during the day. There are times to relax. Even we should allow ourselves time to be bored. Great ideas spring from times of boredom.

I think of the time Jesus told Martha, “You are distracted by many things.” I’m not going to try to explain the entire story. Just focus on the word distraction.

Say you are serving some people. Serve with focus on the task. Don’t become distracted about the little things—oh, my, the salt and pepper shakers don’t match, or such. The focus is on the guest and the service.

Marketer and thinker Seth Godin talks of his friend the great science fiction writer Issac Asimov. “He just knew it was 6:30 and he needed to sit down and write.” He would sit and focus until the day’s work was done, then he could relax, eat, enjoy the time, and go on to the next task.

Just so, our spiritual practices. When it is time to meditate and pray, sit and meditate and pray. If you are worried about things to do today, pause, pull out your notebook and write them down. Now that they are safely out of mind, return to your focus. Don’t just sit and let you mind worry over things. Learn to focus and concentrate. The time will be up before you know it.

And with study. And with service. Ever notice when you’re serving someone and deeply, mindfully into the service, that the time just seems to fly by. The task is completed before you realize it’s time.

Today, not tomorrow, try practicing deep work. Put away distractions and focus on the task, no matter how mundane.

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