Increase productivity by being bored


October 05, 2020

Do you recognize the feeling that you feel you had been very busy during the day? But when you think of it nothing much was actually done? You probably do. A lot of people fall into this trap including myself. So how can we learn ourselves to be more productive? Inspired by: *Cal Newport - Deep Work*.

What I mentioned above is a typical example of shallow work. Not a lot of focus and concentration is required to complete those tasks and you will be able to complete them without a lot of dedicated focus.

If you want to produce quality work and feel fulfilled after a day of work, instead of just feeling busy you need to insert some deep work time into your day. What is Deep work? Deep work means you focus on one task continuously for several hours without any distractions. The brain needs this time to get accustomed to the thing you are doing and will do it exponentially as time passes. So the more time you can spend in a deep work state the better.

You might be thinking, several hours straight sitting behind a desk? That is not good for you. I agree and one of the great things about this technique is you can take breaks. Without it affecting the deep work state. But it’s very important what you do during those breaks.

Before you start make sure you have a few hours available.

So without further ado, let’s get practical:

  • Step 0: Decide what you are going to work on.
  • Step 1: Remove all distractions from the room, including your phone and turn the notifications from your laptop off.
  • Step 2: Set a timer for 30 minutes
  • Step 3: Take a 15 min break. But in that 15min break allow yourself to be bored, have a small walk outside, stare out of the window aything boring will do. Really important! No checking phones, e-mails whatsoever!
  • Step 4: Rinse and repeat these steps and try to increase the timer.

Why is it so important to be bored in your breaks? Without going into too much detail, when you open your phone your brain produces new neurotransmitters. Now you have the neurotransmitters your brain produced for the deep work task, together with the neurotransmitters produced while looking at your phone. Now your brain has to split it’s capacity. Just looking a few minutes, checking social media or e-mails will result in your brain having to work 30 minutes to forget those extra neurotransmitters, while also focussing on the original task work. When you allow yourself to be bored, you give your brain space to expand on your task at hand and give you more space to focus.

Another advantage that comes with allowing yourself to be bored. It removes the conditioning of your brain that was getting used to a stimulus when there is any sign of in-activity. It got an instinctive reaction. For example when we are waiting somewhere in line and automatically grab for our phones. This is because it comes from the brain, the sub conscious. Try to resist that and allow yourself to be bored anywhere. You will notice that this reaction will vanish and your brain learns again to rest.

Since deep work is so intense for the brain, you’ll get a feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment instead of just being busy.

Some professions use deep work unintentionally. Mostly Writers, Coders and Athletes. Because it’s the nature of those professions, doing things for an extended period of time with no breaks and distractions. Those people have an easier time taking on new tasks outside of their expertise, because they are applying this Deep work technique. Which make them learn exponentially faster as well.

If you want to know more about this technique I highly recommend you to read Cal Newport’s book: Deep Work

Michael Awad

I'm fascinated by the power of a strong mindset. I combine this with being a web developer, which keeps me motivated. But how, you may ask? That's what I share on this website. For more information about me personally, check out the about me page: About Me

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