Focus Deep, Write Well, Train Smart
Healthy habits enabling us to focus deep, communicate clearly and to train smart will make a big difference in a digital and distracted world.
The past few years have put us all on the edge and forced us to use our time wisely and hopefully also taught us to appreciate the time we have in this world on a deeper level.
Many of us have probably got a more flexible "work-schedule" where our self-discipline and ability to focus have been put to test.
We need to communicate through various channels, usually through writing. We need to block our calendars if we want anything done outside the endless meetings that keeps popping up. We also need to spend time moving or bodies so that we can continue with energy and focus the next hour, day, week, month, quarter, year, decade...
We want to play the long game, right?
In addition to the constant struggle of managing our time, most of us are put in situations where we need to focus and communicate clearly. Both verbally and in written form. To do this sustainably we need also to take care of our health. To move our bodies.
We train our minds and focus on our craft, whatever occupation we are in. Mental intellectual focus is what distinguish us from other species.
Writing is not only an effective way to communicate, both synchronously and asynchronously. It is also a straight path to clear thinking. Putting your thoughts into words and even sharing them with others put you in a beautiful teaching position that forces you to distill the noise and send signals to your audience. It is like letting a stranger into your mind.
Whether you are chatting with a friend or writing an email to your team or working on that product pitch, effective writing skills are key in an increasingly distracted and digital world.
Training our bodies is not only for us to post on socials but rather a prerequisite for us to be a happy partner, parent, friend and colleague.
A good, responsible takes care of themselves so they can serve others.
Focus Deep 🎯
A daily practice with routines is a prerequisite for you as an artist, creator, maker or practitioner.
A common misbelief is that a disciplined life is a boring life.
That no room is left for creativity.
Believing you can produce creative outcomes, results and products without any structure around you is a fallacy.
The habits, routines and the disciplined practice is what creates the much needed creative space around you, as a creator.
Living day by day with no structure around you puts you in reactive states where you constantly have to tackle and contemplate challenges. Working on others agenda's. Less room for creative outlets.
Whether you are a martial artist, developer, writer, business representative, operations manager, disciplined routines will create the mental space you need to thrive.
To understand how we can tweak our days effectively let's explore the universal concept of rhythm:
The ability to find the rhythm for active learning and focus is key since there is a biological and neurological clock that determines when and how long sessions we can have during a day. Those can be optimized for deep focused sessions.
Cadence And The Power Of Repetition
David Perell has studied successful entrepreneurs for a while and I would like to lable him as one as well.
Since most of us have a 4 hour limit for how long we can focus deeply per day we want to build up a disciplined habit around when and how often.
The strategy we set is to take away the friction and the mental willpower from this routine. We do not want to get into a state of arguing with ourselves about priorities. Automate this habit as much as possible.
Here a few practical examples and low hanging fruit on how to tweak your days:
Block your calendar in bouts of 90 minutes on a daily basis.
Schedule "leisure time" where you dedicate yourself to something completely different. I.e go for a walk or have lunch.
Finish at the same time every day. I.e never let yourself work later than 5 PM.
The goal is to keep a daily rhythm. A productive cadence.
Write Well ✍️
As soon as I realized that writing is not only a way of communicating with the present and the future but also a way to structure my thinking I started to double down on it.
Building up this blog and creating my frequent maildrops has been a good way to practice that skill.
What I learned early on is the power of punctuation. To write shorter sentences. I remember back in college when it was easier to write a long masters theses than it was to write a shorter one. This takes practice.
Just like creating a musical masterpiece the written text needs breaks, spaces and "air" between the sentences to make it clear and flowing.
When it comes to punctuation, we have several options. All used to streamline the flow. To separate the message and make it as crisp and high signal as possible.
We want to use these carefully. With the right timing.
One common rule we can clarify today is to use the period instead of the comma whenever possible.
If you can use the period instead of a comma without changing the meaning of a sentence, use the period. Period. 🤓
Train Smart 🤸♂️
This short and high level guide is made for the ones that want to advance their physical performance without spending hours at the gym. This guide is for the ones that want to train smarter, not harder. With a long-term goal of increased quality of life and wellbeing.
We are going to briefly explore the parameters that we can play around with in our own movement practices:
No matter what our training goals are, knowing how to play around with the above factors will make a huge difference in your journey.
Spending hours in front of a screen affects not only our posture in the upper body but limits our hip mobility if we do not spend time in varied positions. The concept of training smarter will be focused on strength and mobility. So expect a lot of references to range of motion, intensity and speed.
Let's gain a broader understanding of the main principles behind resistance training.
Only the muscles used in a specific movement pattern gain strength. Just like learning a new motor-skill like a free-throw or a back-squat, we all are clumsy in the beginning of each pattern. This is due to neurological patterning taking place when we learn something new.
In the beginning of establishing strength our bodies require high repetitions and low weight. To avoid injury and to sketch a new movement pattern.
After a solid and safe strength base is established we can start with high intensity and lower number of repetitions.
Strength gains are directly related to the tension produced in the muscle. The growth occurs after the muscles have been loaded to a certain threshold before we can feel the benefit of the training.
The amount of tension in the muscle rather than the number of repetitions is the stimulus for strength.
Just like we need to check-out from the deep work sessions our bodies need rest to recover. Rest after stress is really effective for continuous development of strength. This is where the magic happens and the muscle fibers rebuild.
Volume of work on a muscle is the sum of repetitions multiplied by the load used in the program.
It can be computed per week, month or year.
The key thing we want to gain here is that similar strength gains seems to be obtained with single rather than multiple sets.
These were some basic, pragmatic ways on how to start off with healthy habits in three different domains.
Most of us have it in common that we want to nurture habits around these areas to be able to live a more active and fulfilling life.
Let me know what you think about this post in the comments below. Anything you want to add or change?
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