Saturday, June 8, 2019

How to focus when tired

Too Much Coffee Man. One of those bright ideas you get when overtired and overcaffienated perhaps.

The Deep Work book has me thinking about work and how I do it. And there are a bunch of great takeaways. There is however a rather big gap in the reasoning: the assumption that everyone is always at 100% performance or at least to get there every day.

Not that social media or other distractions remove some fraction for sure. And it is a bigger chunk than you'd think. Cal Newport is quite right about that. What I mean is that most of us are sick, have migraines, slept badly, kid was up all night or live in a US city with its default REALLY LOUD EVERYTHING.

So how do you focus then? My insight here is to slow down. This is personal and maybe things work differently for your brain. But I have found myself more productive on bad days than on good ones (all rested and ready) simply because I tricked myself on the groggy ones: "ok fine, you're tired, just start with this. Done? Ok cool than just do this one thing to move this project forward." And that often ends up going faster than frantic work that jumps back and forth.

The bit where you present a single thing to do and "it's fine" is critical. I don't know about others but the scheduler part in my brain is the first to be dropped when tired. Everything becomes a giant ball of anxiety and I end up doing nothing it all.

And this is why mis en place is so critical. This automatically presents you with the thing-to-do. Even when groggy and feeling not so great. Deep Work talks about ritual to signal that you are about to enter deep work state (flow! seek the flow! THE SPICE MUST FLOW...wait...what was I talking about again?). But the unclenching of "okay it's not the best day. that's fine" and then just making progress of some description has something to be said for it.

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