Learning how not to be distracted


by Yi Ming Gan

I have recently came across the concept of “deep work” as explained by Cal Newport in his book “Deep Work”. He suggested the formula: high-quality work produced = time spent * intensity of focus. As a data scientist, I spend most of my time at work in front of my computer… until I hear the notification of my email. My reflex is always to read the email first, respond right away if I need to. Same for notifications from my phone. I spend  a lot of time doing shallow works, entertaining unimportant (rarely important) distractions while working on important tasks. I have never realized how distracting emails, notifications and various environmental factors are until I sit down, shut the door, turn off all notifications and work. I am killing tasks at a higher rate than I used to when I dedicate a time block to work with minimal distractions. What surprise me the most is the amount of distraction that we can remove from our daily life is much more than what I expected.

(picture credit: Tony Hymes, no copyright infringement intended)