Deep Work and 30 Hour Method

The Importance of Deep Work & The 30-Hour Method for Learning a New Skill


When we want to learn something new, we wait until motivation strikes us, then we tinker around for a few hours without a clear direction. As soon as we realize that we’re not getting anywhere, we get discouraged and give up. The formula to induce motivation... Starts with action -> sparks inspiration -> sparks motivation -> leads to action -> the loop continues.

Flow: The moment when you’re fully focused on a task. You lose all sense of time, and everything seems to flow effortlessly; you forget everything around you and have a feeling of control over the task.

The reason we rarely reach this state is that we live in a world full of distractions. To create a state of flow, one must follow certain rules and embrace deliberate practice through a concept called deep work.

The key to developing the ability for deep work is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition from a distracted state into a state of stable concentration. The rule of thumb is that it takes approximately 25 minutes of focus without distraction to reach a state of flow.

The Law of Productivity: High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)

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

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction free concentration that push your cognitive ability to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skills, and are hard to replicate. Deep work is hard and shallow work is easier and in the absence of clear goals for your job, the visible busyness that surrounds shallow work becomes self-preserving.”

If you don’t plan Deep Work carefully and make it a strong habit, you will fail to develop this skill and automatically fall back to unproductive tinkering. You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it. We all have approximately 4 hours of willpower available each day. If you have a fixed plan, a habit, you save your willpower for the actual task.

Practice != deliberate practice. Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful, systematic, and stretches your mind to its limits. Regular practice might include mindless repetitions of the same task, while deliberate practice requires focused attention and is performed with the specific goal of improving performance. The more we repeat a task the more mindless it becomes. Mindless activity is the enemy of deliberate practice.

“Too often, we assume we are getting better simply because we are gaining experience. In reality, we are merely reinforcing our current habits — not improving them.”

You need to choose a strategy/philosophy...

  • Monastic: “This philosophy attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations.” — isolate yourself for long periods of time without distractions; no shallow work allowed.
  • Bimodal: “This philosophy asks that you divide your time, dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else.” – dedicate a few consecutive days (like weekends, or a Sunday, for example) for deep work only, at least one day a week.
  • Rhythmic: “This philosophy argues that the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a simple regular habit.” – create a daily habit of three to four hours every day to perform deep work on your project.
  • Journalistic: “in which you fit deep work wherever you can into your schedule.” — Not recommended to try out first, since you first need to accustom yourself to deep work.

30 Hour Method

  • Pick a skill that can be useful to your current path
  • Give it a try for minimum 30 hours (deep work!). You might not like it at first. The trick is to overcome the initial frustration until you get your first rewarding experiences.
  • Split your 30 hours into seven 4-hour sessions (plus buffer).
  • Set clear goals of what you want to accomplish with this project.
  • Use your first session to perform extensive information gathering.
  • If necessary, use the second session to set up the environment and define clear goal

Published on: 6th November, 2020

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