Choose Your Deep Work Strategy

While you may be convinced of the value of deep work, you may be unsure of how to implement it in your life. Newport describes four different types of deep work scheduling you can choose from: monastic, bimodal, rhythmic, and journalistic.

All four of these philosophies have their pros and cons that should be carefully considered:

The Monastic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is the most dedicated form of deep work and involves spending all of your working hours on a singular high-level focus. While this philosophy has the highest potential for reward and the lowest level of context-switching, it’s unrealistic for most people who are required to perform various kinds of work in their role. I find it unrealistic unless you are a fulltime freelancer or artist.

The Bimodal Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling allows for a high amount of deep work while enabling you to maintain other activities in your life that you find valuable. Successfully adopting this philosophy requires the flexibility to arrange your year, months, or weeks as you see fit into larger chunks of deep work. I plan to schedule my Goals under this philosophy because it seems realistic and balanced to me

The Rhythmic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is ideal for individuals with a fairly static schedule. If you can anticipate what most of your days will look like, it’s feasible to block off several hours every day for deep work, thereby getting into a daily “rhythm”, and leaving the rest of your hours for shallow work.

The Journalistic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is an option for people who are constantly on the move with little to no regularity to their days. This method demands vigilance with your time and the keen ability to notice natural ebbs and flows in your day where you may be able to fit in 30 minutes or an hour or two of deep work. Unfortunately, this method is not for beginners and is likely to fail for people who are not experienced in deep work.

Select the deep work philosophy that best suits your work and life. Also, feel free to experiment before you land on a method that finally takes hold in your schedule. Let me know which style suits you better and why.

Deep diving into Deep Work

Cover of Deep Work by Cal Newport

Consider reading it this Lock-down.

I will refer to Cal as “He” (akin to Him, god the all-knowing) in this write up because he has definitely earned himself the authority on this topic. He gives a name to the productive state of “flow” most of us like to attain at work but which we can rarely maintain for more than a couple minutes when the next emergency interrupts our attention. The book is all about how to create an environment in which Deep Work is possible and how to reduce the time spent on Shallow Work.

According to him 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 the core of their working life, will thrive. He further goes to define “Deep Work” as:

“Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Whereas “Shallow Work” is:

“Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”

The book is structured in two parts. The first part motivates Deep Work in stating that Deep Work is valuable, rare and meaningful. The second part describes four rules that help to facilitate Deep Work. I had some trouble staying motivated through the first part which goes into details about why Deep Work is important. You can skip Part 1 totally if I am able to convince you the importance of Deep Work but if not skim through.

Chapter 1 explains why deep work matters. Our economy is changing, and the days of doing the same thing over and over for 40 years until you retire are over. Cal lays out an interesting theory for 3 types of workers, Superstars, Owners and High Skill Workers and makes a convincing and important argument for the importance in the future of being able to work at higher levels of abstraction and work with intelligent machines. In this chapter he also makes a case for the two critical skills for knowledge workers:

1. Learning Quickly

2. Producing at an Elite Level

Chapter 2 focuses on why deep work is rare and essential for achieving success in this VUCA (Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. He shows how distractions are becoming more and more common for knowledge workers, and that attention is becoming a rare ability. Newport makes a good case for how complex knowledge work is often hard to measure, so managers measure busyness instead of output that relates to bottom line results (KPIs). People end up optimizing for looking busy instead of getting real work done.

Chapter 3 goes into the why of deep work. Newport give 3 theories on why deep work is meaningful, a psychological, neurological and a philosophical reason.

Part 2 is full of tips and insights and covers four chapters on the rules of Deep Work ie Work Deeply, Embrace Boredom, Quit Social media (take what resonates and leave the rest) and Drain the Shallows. I plan to write more on it but here are a few takeaways that I could list down:

  1. Schedule time for Deep Work, ideally in a rhythmic fashion to establish a habit. By Rhythmic he means fixed times for work and relaxation. This is to ensure we are not all work and no play.
  2. Set impossible deadlines. The only way to keep an impossible deadline is focused work.

Schedule every minute of your day in order to keep shallow distractions at bay.

  • Consciously decide for every entry in your schedule if it’s deep or shallow to set the mood. Give yourself a budget of Shallow Work and don’t overspend it.
  • Ritualize where you work and how you work. Create rules that help you focus.
  • You needn’t be alone for Deep Work. Collaborative Deep Work is possible (Newport calls it the “Whiteboard Effect”). This doesn’t mean that Open Space is the best office layout, though.
  • Take breaks from focus, don’t take breaks from distraction. Schedule breaks from focused work regularly.
  • Execute like a business. Focus on the important, measure your deep work time and results and keep track of them on a scoreboard, and do a regular review. This is called the “4 Disciplines of Execution” (4DX) Framework
  • Have a weekly rendezvous with yourself to review your achievements and plan out the next week.
  • Don’t extend your work day into the evening to do Deep Work, because it’s most likely not productive. Establish a “shutdown ritual” to follow every day after work in which you check the status of today’s tasks and your calendar for the next day. This helps to free your mind to let go until the next day. Take downtimes away from work seriously as they help to recharge.
  • Meditate productively on Deep Work problems when running, driving, or anything that is not mentally engaging
  • Quit social media because it’s a shallow distraction. Be hard to reach to avoid shallow distractions.
  • Identify the high-level goals you want to reach and the key activities that help you reach them.

Overall Thoughts:

There are lots of powerful insights in the book. Even if you don’t buy the entire process, you’ll pick up some tips and tricks that will make you more productive. I personally find it annoying that he talks about deleting social media accounts! Social Media provides pleasure and relaxation to people, which is exactly why it can be addictive.  The secret is moderation, not elimination. This Lock-down has proved to be a blessing in disguise because not only did I get the opportunity to read this book but also actively implement some of its principles. Cheers to Deep diving into everything we

Skills that will pay off- Day 8


So my virtual Quaranteam, how are you updating yourself? Here is the list of all the things I am working on. Also I have nothing else to speak today, grrh..

Any suggestions or additions, please let me know by commenting

  1. Learning how to Learn: The most under rated competency but nonetheless the Holy grail of all skills.
  2. Ability to Adapt, improvise and overcome obstacles: Thanks to the recession and Corona hard times are ahead. You will be put down on ground or you already are so these skill needs to  be looked upon.
  3. Meditation: You are your mind and what better time to calm your mind when the world is in frenzy.
  4. Ability to verbalize what you think and feel: Relationships are born and maintained by this important skill and I need to work on it. Am thinking of joining the toastmasters after the lockdown ends anyone wants to join me?
  5. Ability to Sell and negotiate: Life is a series of negotiations and selling yourself and your ideas is a big part of it. Read “To Sell is human” by Daniel Pink to understand what I am talking about.
  6. Art of Listening and responding not reacting: With the world becoming noisier, listening selectively and making sense of it all is a survival skill if you ask me.
  7. Ability to self- motivate: Like I am pushing myself to write an article everyday.
  8. Discipline: Play the game small but daily like me writing this. I can’t believe I took 1 full day to write these 500 words and let this inspire you and me  
  9. Time Management: Time is the most precious resource
  10. Speed reading: Read for self-development as well as entertainment. Read, read, read, you will never regret it. The average CEO reads 50 books in a year,  we should at least read 10.
  11. Self-Analysis: You can only improve that which you measure and knowing where you stand is so crucial.
  12. Emotional intelligence and empathy: As an introvert I don’t like to get out of my cave but unfortunately, we all have to deal with people so high time to gear up for this necessary soft skill.
  13. Self-respect with a backbone: Stand your ground.
  14. Generate ideas that have value than just imitate: Your mind is a fertile land and its value depends on how many ideas it can grow. A string of ideas can make not only yours but everyone’s life better. That’s what the likes of Steve Jobs,Bill Gates and Elon Musk do and we respect them for that, so why not give it a try?
  15. Ability to simulate outcomes: Simulate the end outcome for both personal and professional decisions and hence make better.
  16. Gear for post traumatic growth: We are recovering from this pandemic collectively and as a escapism are diving in deep into our passion projects and learning new things and this period will also be our learning benchmark for the years to come.

Now, let’s get cracking.

Takeaways from Seth Godin -Part 1_Day 4

Seth’s remarkable. Be like Seth.

Good Morning!

Hope you are doing well in this Quarantine. I definitely am thanks to Seth Godin.

Yeah looks like I am going to write about him till I am fed up. So here we go:

  1. Do it your way: Do what you want to do, the way you want to do it
  2. Tell your story: Stories connect us. We watch Netflix because we like stories, we read books because we like stories. We love telling stories and we love listening to stories. We bond over stories. So tell your story
  3. Be patiently impatient: Don’t leave things before you conclude that they are not working out
  4. Who picks mediocre? Nobody. Refuse to settle for Average. Be remarkable to create positive buzz.
  5. The Product is the Marketing. Stop wasting money, time and energy on Marketing. If what you do is good enough, people will notice it.
  6. Spread your ideas: Be generous with your knowledge and opinion, you never know who will need what you have to say.
  7. Decide Carefully: Decide carefully what you decide to do because you have limited time and energy and you have the most important thing at stake when you decide to do something
  8. Life is a series of Dips: Failures are a sure thing. Don’t stop because you might fail, persevere despite it.
  9. Navigate without a Map: Nobody knows how a situation will turn out, except if you are an Astrologer or Donald Trump. Take steps towards what you love and improvise as you go.
  10. Create something remarkable: Create a purple cow. You can ignore a cow but you can’t ignore a Purple or a yellow cow.

Training my Lizard- Day 1

I have always enjoyed writing but somehow never practiced it. And now, after the Lockdown started often flirted with the idea.

My last post was in 2017 and then there is nothing to show despite knowing well that I am only as good as my last gig. In my list of procrastinations, writing still tops and I have been desperately trying to get out of this rut. An encouraging mentor and my maternal uncle have been telling me to write something at the beginning of the lockdown however I have still let a Month go by telling myself “Oh Maybe it a Writer’s Block”. So instead, I resorted to some soul searching and do you know what I stumbled upon? This:

Do more of what makes you happy and finish what you start”

That got me wondering why I am such a jackass.Why is it so difficult to do what I say I am going to do? I say I want one thing  and then I do another.I really want to do something and then I never start. I want a lot of things but I also limit it to wishful thinking.I want to be thin but nonetheless take the 2nd (actual 4th) serving of the biryani and gulp the 7th Gulab jamun and sleep afterwards to ensure I stay fatulous. Yes I have just invented this word from Fat plus fabulous,I don’t want my Lizard to smirk at me you see.

Yes, you read it right, my Lizard. To know Lizard you should first know who Seth Godin is. To those of you who are not aware of Seth Godin, please invest a min to google him. To me right now he is a pro Lizard slayer and someone who is inspiring me to slay my own Lizard. In an interview that l was not expecting to be provoked, he said,” A writer’s block is a Myth”. And to explain it further he mentioned the Lizard Brain.

Seth’s “lizard brain” is inspired from Steven Pressfield’s “Resistance”. The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear, rage and the reproductive drive. It is called the amygdala. This amygdala or “The lizard” hates change. It also hates risk and therefore achievement. So it sits in our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow and compromise. If we continue to listen to this Lizard and mind you it was pretty dominant in my case then God save us. Day by day the lizard grows till we ourselves become Lizards, just devouring and chilling. All dreams stay on our to do list but never materialize.

Explaining more on why a block of any kind is a Myth, he says that a Plumber has no choice to not do his job. He can’t say that he will not unclog the pipes because he just doesn’t feel like it. And same goes for anything that needs to be done. If you really are passionate about writing, then you can’t let it be at the whims and fancies of your hormones.

So now after being enlightened by Seth, what would he expect of me?

Off course to contradict my Lizard brain and publish this.

Office “Loudspeaker” Galore

Every office has an office loudspeaker. There is at least one, if not many. By “loudspeaker” I mean by the virtue of their loud voice/muscular throat or attitude they keep on speaking loudly on the phone from time to time. No, no, why should they bother that you are being disturbed, after all they are doing their job and you are idling your time coming to office every day. You should mind your own Business and let them not mind their tongue.

I think, speaking clearly on the phone so that you are audible is definitely understood but shouting at the top of your voice to attract attention is totally uncool. I mean others are working too and you as a coworker need to respect others “Right to Work”. I agree you are not our Constitution to respect that but don’t you have any mercy?

I personally have a lot to thank these Loudspeakers. As a student of TISS HRM & LR (To those perplexed by the acronym: Tata Institute of Social Sciences Master’s in Human Resource Management & Labor Relations), I got the opportunity to Intern in 5 Organizations. I am currently Interning in my Fifth Fieldwork Organization so I do believe I have some authority to talk on the topic. By their “virtue” I often get accidentally entertained. I get to know what is happening in their Personal /Professional lives even if I do not know their name. Because out of the five offices that I Interned in; “Loudspeakers” were present in three. The reason why these people are nonchalant to the nuisance caused to other people can be many. But some which I can think of are summarized as below:

1. Their Vocal Chords are Muscular

In this case I have nothing to complain against. In fact I offer my sympathy to you because I know I might not be the first person to point it out and hey, who likes being mocked for something one doesn’t have any control over?

2. They are genuinely dedicated

Yes, and that shows. Or hears should I say?

3. They want to showoff

(Hearing) Seeing is believing right? So I might show all those concerned before they announce my mid-year performance appraisal.

4. They just don’t care

5 Blame it on the office setup

In the era of space crunching and time crunching, people have no space to waste. And that leads us to one of the two things:

· Stare uncomfortably at the person sitting in front of the desk (Or pretend you are engrossed in work despite being distracted by those eyes and that Dimple) and/or

· Listen to what they were doing on the weekend being narrated to their friend.

6 Attention seeking behavior

I really want to see that sweet lady sitting in the corner cubicle to be impressed by my impeccable knowledge in Marketing which comes directly from one of windows that I hide behind my so called Excel sheet. So what do I do? Yes, Loudspeaker off course! When she seems unimpressed by my intelligence, I assume that she is the extrovert type. So I shift my gears to the wild night I had in the Andaman’s and the Scuba Diving in Pattaya. The only outcome is that she shifts her desk.

Love them or hate them, you just can’t ignore them.

About the Author

Anuya Thorat is a Dentist by Training and a HR professional by sheer luck. She enjoys singing while cooking. And yes she does cook up a lot of things. Everything except Tarot.

The Great HR Dieting Dissonance – Learn To Diet The HR Way – Office Diaries

One of the perks of being an HR from TISS (Tissian) is that you get to experience at least 4 Organisations as a Fieldwork Intern. Besides getting technical know-how of Human Resource Management (HRM), Fieldwork is also an interesting case-study of Human Behavior. We are taught Organizational Behavior in detail across the 4 Semesters and if you ask me that is the most interesting part of being an HR student. So welcome to the curious case of the dieting HR fraternity.

Today is the birthday of one of the HR ladies and we have a cake cutting session. The cake is big but the contenders are unwilling. “I had my share of sweetness, sugar!” they say and instead of eating/feeding cake, they hug her. Welcome to the diet conscious HR fraternity who manage their diet despite working in a leading company.

We are faced with many dualities in life which ultimately lead to Cognitive Dissonance but nothing like those the HR face in a leading Snacks Corporation. I mean publicly you have to promote chocolates, Biscuits, toffees even if you personally follow a Gluten free diet. It’s not good to eavesdrop on your Mentor, but I really can’t help it when she is sitting right next to me instructing her maid the recipe of Beetroot soup.

The woman sitting next to me who is otherwise a part of Talent Management is nowadays more concerned about weight management. She eats boiled cabbage and is often seen explaining the 70-20-10 model to weight management. Yes, you read that right 70% of your daily intake should be taken before 12 pm and essentially as a part of your Breakfast. From 12 to 5 pm take up a lighter meal which should be 20% of your intake and the rest 10 % should be eaten before 7 pm (i.e. before your digestion becomes sluggish).I am so impressed by this woman’s ability to practically implement HR Jargon’s to non-related field. And people say HR is no longer necessary or relevant. If something is true, it’s the opposite.
As a former Dentist, I have much to thank these MNCs which ensure a continuous flow of patients to my fellow ex- fraternity. I haven’t seen one fat lady in this office (Alright there are 2, but I am an Intern and the other one is on a contract basis). Most of them are frequently sipping green tea and if you ask me that tantamount to the betrayal of the company they work for. Though they promote the newly launched calorie-rich products, you will never see them popping it in their mouths. Looking at the anti-cavity awareness that goes on various media, I wonder if they might be loading their kids with all the complimentary samples they receive frequently.

I might not know much about HR or even about myself, but I definitely know that Dieting is just not my cup of tea. Nor is a cup of green tea. It has just occurred to me that there are only two people who eat from the jar of cream biscuits in the lounge; a super fat guy at the other end of the office and me of course. I thought maybe people are fed up with them but the second week into this office I know that real strategy is to look good while performing better. With a surge in the aesthetic realm, HR can’t afford to stay behind. There have been enough articles on how important HR is when it comes to management by being a support function just as a housewife is to the house (!?!). Realizing that People don’t take fat wives (or fat HR) seriously (except if you are a rich big-shot) I jot down my strategy for weight reduction:

Learn Strategic “Lean” Management from the HR

· The weight loss goal should be SMART i.e. Simple, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic and Time-bound. So I googled “Diet” and got a list of numerous Diets I can choose from. I also got to know that the word “Diet” comes from Old French “diete” and Medieval Latin “dieta” meaning a “daily food allowance”. The “die” in the Diet has never appealed to me but hey, aren’t the corporate allowances decided by the HR?

· Your competency to lose weight depends on your skill sets namely CDWH (Consistency, discipline, will and hard work).

· Then you take a 360-degree feedback from people and inanimate objects. Some people disguise their utter horror under compliments like “looks like the weather is suiting you!” whereas your favorite 10-year-old pants convey it to you subtly that you no longer fit in.

· The journey to weight loss can be a Single looped or Double loop…..the difference between them is as follows:

1. Single loop: You get motivated to lose weight only when someone nudges you.

2. Double loop: When you actively maintain your weight and monitor every bite you eat.

· Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a change management approach that focuses on identifying what is working well, analyzing why it is working well and then doing more of it. The basic tenet of AI is that an organisation will grow (or not grow fat) in whichever direction that people in the organisation focus their attention to.

Enough of warming up my desk (laptop does it quite literally) and off to the daily grind.

KPMG (Knowledge & People to Manage Growth) – Anuya’s Internship Experience – TISS Mumbai

With due respect to Piet Klinjveld, I would like to describe my experience in KPMG as a beautiful association of Knowledge and People who help each other grow. So my internship started on the 4th of April,2016 in the Mumbai office of KPMG. I must admit that I was nervous as this was my first job. On the first day I was greeted by my mentor who then introduced me to the rest of the team. That same day I met another intern from XLRI (Let’s call him V) who was my partner in crime for the next two months.

My First project was about formulating a Technical Assessment Questionnaire for a middle east utilities player.I was given a presentation detailing about the Focus areas to be kept in mind while designing the Questions for four Proficiency Levels. I was asked to formulate questions for various sections like Customer Services,Internal Audit, Marketing & Corporate Communication and Human Resources. The Questionnaire were frequently reassessed to bridge loopholes if any.

Thanks to the generosity of my mentor, my second project was a crucial project which people generally shy away from giving to novices. In it, I was participating in a month long activity mapping of various businesses in a Large Indian Conglomerate. A 3 day workshop was also arranged to map the feasibility of HR Shared Services for the various businesses of that Conglomerate where we couldn’t visit due to the paucity of time. I am thankful for the opportunities I had in visiting the different client locations and hogging eye appealing and taste bud enticing food. Not to forget my 3 day stay at a fabulous Learning and Development training centre where we used to strum Guitar, paint and read books sipping coffee after a long day of work. At the workshop, I was handling the Payroll and exit management process mapping . I was overwhelmed as well as honoured by the kind of exposure I had during the whole workshop as I slowly started to understand the importance of my project on a Global level policy change. Meeting who’s who of HR fraternity of both KPMG and that Indian Conglomerate was too much to digest for a mere mortal like me who has switched from Dentistry to HR just a year ago.Now let me tell you what were my main takeaways from KPMG.

1)There is no compromise on technical know-how. You can only consult if you have an in depth knowledge about what you do and why you do it.
2)Keeping yourself updated with the recent happenings both related and unrelated to the business will add in richer content to your project.

3)People are more important that processes. It is pertinent to be a good human being, who speaks well and talks with respect to everyone. What you are as a person is an asset in Consulting.

Regarding final placement, KPMG gives a PPO or a PPI depending on the requirement, qualifications and your performance during the internship.

I have to admit that my internship experience was much better than what I had anticipated .I am much grateful for that.Though I couldn’t divulge many details I hope that my experience motivates young interns who want to work hard and party harder to join KPMG.