August 12, 2018

A commitment to deep work is not a moral stance and it's not a philosophical statement—it is instead a pragmatic recognition that the ability to concentrate is a skill that gets valuable things done.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
By Cal Newport

Newport's definition:
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of email and social media, not even realizing there's a better way. 

As of late, I've been so frustrated and disappointed in my inability to produce and to experience deep work. There are many factors contributing to this—some of which feel more in my control than others—but distraction is high on the list. Over the next month I will experiment and make some adjustments.

Instagram has been the biggest offender. Not only have I spent so much time mindlessly scrolling but, over time, as the platform has evolved, I've struggled to share of myself without feeling immense pressure and self-consciousness. (Someone I know recently articulated this feeling; I called it Instagram paralysis.) It's so easy to feel this way when the algorithm validates its users by the number of likes, comments, and views they receive.

So, I'm leaving Instagram for 30 days. More than anything, taking a hiatus is a conscious effort to redirect my time and attention to interests and projects I don't make enough time for. (Thus, eliciting feelings of guilt and failure—it becomes a vicious cycle.) I'd like to give more IRL love to my people, too. To find spaces for deeper connection. And maybe I'll finally make headway on that project or two I've been thinking about for a year?

Social media has been a wonderful resource and outlet for creativity, education, and connection in my life. Abandoning it permanently, as Newport suggests, is not an option for me. (Ashley C. Ford's recent tweet about making a "grand exit" echoes my perspective.) But I hope disconnecting from one platform for a month provides the discipline to achieve a healthy balance that prevents drastic withdrawals in the future. I also hope for the confidence to share & connect with others more authentically and fearlessly, in person and on social.