Apr. 11th, 2017

peartreealley: (Default)
Good morning,

I'm still thinking about rituals of approach.

On the Sunday evening train ride home, I reread sections from Deep Work by Cal Newport. I read this last summer, and have found it extraordinarily helpful in my journey to regain focus. But like many other commitments we make in which the world seems stacked against our best interests (exercising, eating healthy, etc.), I find I have to frequently recommit to focus and going deep. I'd noticed a sense of sliding of late, so I wanted to read the relevant passages.

As it turns out, Newport also talks about the importance of rituals:

“[Rituals minimize] the friction in this transition to depth, allowing [us] to go deep more easily and stay in the state longer.”

He goes on to point out there is no one-size-fits-all set of rituals, but by reading the routines and habits of deep workers through history, he surmises we should address:

1. Where you’ll work and how long;
Ideally, one has a place dedicated only for focus and deep work--but it is, of course, an ideal. Even if it's not space dedicated only to deep work, he recommends a regular place or set of places in which you "go deep."

2. How you’ll work once you start to work;
These are rules and processes to structure your efforts. For example: using Pomodoro or requiring a certain measurement of work achieved in a specific time window, having the Internet blocked, etc. Basically, how you will do what you’re going to do; how you measure that you’re working deep.

3. How you’ll support your work;
How to ensure your brain gets the support it needs to keep operating at a high level of depth. (Eating healthy snacks, drinks, exercise/stretching, etc.)

Newport notes that all of these things will take experimentation--and you must be willing to work at it. Having a ritual cribbed from another creator because it works for them, or using the same ritual long after you have outgrown it does you no favors, no matter how much an inconvenience experimentation and change is. (I imagine one could also use "finding your ritual" as a vehicle for procrastination, but that's another topic.)

I'm not entirely sure of where my own rituals stand today (although a cup of tea is certainly involved), but today I'm going to spring clean my studio--which has left to dust and the collections of junk that abandoned rooms often grow. I found it a bit chilly and dark to work in during the winter, and I've gotten comfortable working instead of my couch or at the dining room table. But the sun has returned to London, and I have this room dedicated for going deep, and I can't help but wonder if a new consecration of the studio might help with my recommitment to ritual and depth.

I guess I'll find out.

Have a lovely day X

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Peartree Alley Studio

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