The 4 Disciplines of Execution as outlined in the Book “Deep Work”.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution as outlined in the Book “Deep Work”.

Newport outlines four principles of deep work that come from the book. During deep work sessions, use these principles to optimize your time and focus on the right things.

1) Focus on what’s important.

When choosing what to work on, figure out what things have the largest impact. Then, instead of trying to say no to trivial distractions, simply say yes to the most important task or goal. This process helps crowd out shallow tasks that don’t support your goals.

(In Built to Last, Jim Collins outlines steps to creating “big, hairy, audacious goals,” or BHAGs—he urges you to create clear goals, that push you outside your comfort zone, and are aligned closely with your core values.)

2) Use the right metrics. The most useful metrics in deep work are leading metrics, or metrics you can use in real-time to tweak what your result will be. For example, Newport suggests leading metrics like the number of pages you’ve written or the number of new ideas you’ve generated. These give real-time feedback that helps you see how effective you are at deep work. In contrast, a lagging metric would be how many papers you’ve published at the end of 2021—at that point, you can’t go back and change your behavior to publish more papers in the year.

3) Keep your metrics visible. Making your leading metrics visible will motivate you to keep up the habit and allow for more frequent celebrations of successes. Newport suggests keeping a physical display in the workspace that shows your leading metric, like a small whiteboard where you mark off hours spent in deep work.

4) Create accountability where possible. Periodically analyzing your deep work will keep you honest about how well you lived up to your goals. Newport explains that this exercise will show you where you can improve. He suggests setting up a weekly review to see what you’ve achieved in the past week and make a plan for the coming week.

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