Sinking deep into a flow-state of intense focus has always been hard to do but now more than ever.
So what are your favourite ways of achieving deep focus?
If you’re like me, the slightest interruption can have a really negative effect on my work.
This is especially true if I am working out a tricky programming problem. If the phone rings my focus goes immediately and it can take a long time to get it back.
Not ones to sit by, my pal Peter and I decided to try to tackle the problem one step at a time.
We identified that in our own lives the constant attraction of inbound messages (email and IM) was the biggest source of distraction for us. Even without a notification to say there is actually a new message in the inbox, we find ourselves checking ‘just in case’.
I have learned that this is like playing a slot machine: Utterly addictive.
As we all know, gambling should be enjoyed responsibly. It turns out I have a major dopamine drug addiction that’s gonna take some serious rehab to fix. Think Elton 1990.
I need help because constantly checking your email increases stress.
So far I have tried setting all notifications to off on my phone and time boxing email correspondence to the first and last hours of my working day.
However, these methods can only go so far. What I found is that the quality of the conversation makes a big difference too. Conversations in instant message and email are often slow, off-topic and hard to follow. This is particularly true if they are conversations between three or more people.
My hypothesis is as follows: If new features could make conversations online better quality, that will reduce the total amount of messages sent and time spent sending them.
This approach favours the popular sayings: ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ .
With this in mind, Peter and I are working on a replacement for email and instant messaging called Plum Mail.
Plum Mail’s objective is to improve the quality of your conversations online with features that are not currently possible in email or available in instant messaging.
In addition, Plum Mail has settings that ruthlessly defend your focus. We’re talking inbox delays, group chat messaging limits, zero notifications by default, a complete lack of user status (active, away etc) and read receipts.
We think Plum Mail has the potential to help you protect your focus. But, we’d love to know more about how you think about your focus and ability to do deep work.
Can you share your favourite ways of achieving deep focus?