February 26, 2020

91: Making Time for Deep, Focused Work with Jake Kahana

We live in a world of distractions. Between the endless buzzes and notifications, and the biological desire for dopamine, it’s almost impossible to expect anyone to concentrate and stay focused for more than 20 minutes. Yet that is exactly what is needed if we want to do deep, meaningful work.

Jake Kahana believes that we can live a healthier life and do our best work by creating structures and environments that combat digital distraction. He is a cofounder of Caveday, a company established to maximize productivity for individuals and corporations through facilitated focus sessions and deep work training. As a founding US faculty member with The School of Life, Jake teaches workshops in emotional intelligence for corporate teams. He speaks at conferences and companies around the world on creating a relationship to our work that is healthy so that our other relationships can thrive.

Jake and I talk about the challenges of dealing with so many distractions, shallow work, good habits, the difference between productivity and accomplishment, creating a distraction-free environment to do deep work, and how to minimize disruptions and create deep work spaces as a team, even if you’re virtual.

Read the related blog article: Master the Lost Art of Concentration by Working Inside the Cave

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • We touch our devices up to 5,000 times per day. It’s become habitual. But it’s OK to be bored. It’s OK to let your mind wander.
  • We spend too much time doing shallow work like checking email, slack, or quick tasks that make us feel like we’re being productive, but ultimately don’t make progress toward goals.
  • Shallow work feels good in the moment but very unsatisfying at the end of a day, week, or month because nothing important has been accomplished.
  • Sharon Salzberg offers this idea: Imagine your brain is your mental home. Just like your physical home has a door and you control who enters, you need to control who and what enters your mental home, and when.
  • Just as you go into your home and expect no one to bother you, you can go into your cave, put away devices, turn off notifications and give yourself the mental break from distractions and freedom to focus.
  • We actually do better work when we focus and take breaks from being ‘always on and always available.’ It’s not unprofessional to turn on away messages or close down your messaging app for a few hours.
  • Create your cave by setting up a distraction-free environment. Put your phone in airplane more and out of reach and out of sight. Turn off all notification or close down all non-essential apps.
  • Clarify what work you will do during your cave time and what you won’t do such as check email. Work in 45 minute segments while in the cave.
  • Create caves with your team whether you’re in person or virtual. If virtual, get together via video conference during the cave time so you can help hold each other accountable.Share what you’ve accomplished at the end so you can celebrate together.
  • We do better when we’re in community with others. That’s part of the power of a collective cave. We like being seen and acknowledged by others, and we want to do our best when being observed by others.
  • Working is not equivalent to sitting in front of a computer. Know what you want to accomplish each day so that you can leave work and give you full attention to your family, self, etc. Because when you have a healthy relationship with your work, you can have healthy relationships in your life.

KEEP UP WITH JAKE

Website: https://www.caveday.org/

Twitter: @jakekahana and @caveday

mamie@mamieks.com

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