HyperFocus – Book Notes

hyperfocus

Hyperfocus is an ultimate book on productivity and help us to focus better. The crux of the book is that we live most of our life in heedlessness or “auto-pilot” mode and we need to be mindful of our attention. Rarely do we stop and examine our thoughts and tasks in our day-to-day lives. In today’s world of attention economy, we have different social media and gaming apps which use novel methods to capture a scarce commodity called “Human attention”.

What I really like about the book is that it presents two distinct and important ideas.

  1. Hyperfocus
  2. Scatterfocus

Hyperfocus:

There are plenty of distractions that keep us from doing purposeful and productive works. Our mind seeks novel distractions instead of finishing that important task which we need to finish by EOD.

So how do we “Hyperfocus” in a world of constant notifications and distractions?

  1. Firstly,  acknowledge that our brain’s attention storage is limited and treat it as a scarce resource.
  2. The more complex the task, the more attention has to be paid.
  3. Avoid multi-tasking. Every time we multitask the area that can be used for focused attention becomes smaller.
  4. Eliminate distractions beforehand like switching off your mobile phone or disable notifications before you work on something important. This will help you to focus better on the task at hand.
  5. Pick the most consequential tasks for setting priorities for the day
  6. Don’t keep more than three things on the active list at any point in time. Keep your daily task list as simple as possible.
  7. Be mindful of your attention. Check every two hours whether you are in auto-pilot mode? Is your attention wandering? Are you working on a productive and meaningful task?

Scatterfocus:

Scatterfocus is the opposite of Hyperfocus. Instead of focusing on a particular task, we let our mind wander and be unmindful. Is the book suggesting two contradictory ideas? Actually, no. Scatterfocus helps recharge our mind after prolonged period of work or hyperfoucs, generate new ideas and foster creativity.

Modes of scatterfocus:

  1. Capture mode: Take a notebook to capture & write down all the tasks and jobs that you have on your mind.
  2. Problem focus mode: Single out a problem that you are working on, write down all possible solutions in your pocket book and try going to sleep on the problem.
  3. Habitual mode: Take a habitual or repetitive task and perform it every now and then. You will be surprised to see how creative thoughts emerges from it.

Other tips and tricks:

  1. Emails: Check your emails no more than 3 times a day. If your job requires you to check emails often, then keep a time slot to check your emails. Try to articulate your response in 5 or less sentences.
  2. Meetings: Don’t attend meetings without an agenda. Try to question all recurring meetings if it,s really required. Try keep minimal audience for any meeting.
  3. Apps and Notifications: Keep all the social media and gaming apps in a different device. This might appear cumbersome on the surface but it will help you monitor your attention better , eliminate distractions and be mindful.
  4. Recharging: Take regular 10-15 mins break for every 60-90 mins like taking a walk or running near your work place, non-work related reading, going to the gym, listening to a podcast or audio-book, or having a conversation with friends.

Overall, this was an interesting read on how to focus and I hope these notes were beneficial to you. Do you have any interesting tips on how to focus better? If so, please do share.

 

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Andrew Yang, Freedom Dividend and FIRE

Andrew Yang is a former lawyer, entrepreneur, founder, non-profit leader, and running  candidate for Democratic nomination for 2020 U.S Presidential election. Andrew Yang seems to attract people from a wide spectrum like conservative, progressive, democrats, libertarians and independents. Why Andrew Yang is gaining popularity? And what are his ideas and policies?

Automation and Freedom Dividend:

Andrew Yang is the only politician who calls out the dangers of Automation and  advocates Universal basic Income and as a matter of fact, he has written a book on the subject, The War on normal people. The U.S Economy has already automated four millions of manufacturing jobs. In the near future, many retail jobs, call center jobs and truck driving jobs will be automated thanks to machine learning, A.I and self-driving cars. What is Yang’s solution? Freedom Dividend. Yang wants to implement the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income of $1,000/month, $12,000 a year, for every American adult over the age of 18.

Dangers of coming Fourth Industrial Revolution:

A.I and Machine learning has advanced so much that human beings are no longer necessary for certain tasks. Of course, some jobs are more easily transitioned to automation than others. All the jobs that involves routine with little or no cognitive effort are easily automated (like clerks, librarians etc..). The consensus is that if your job involves serious analytical and cognitive skills then you are less likely to be affected by the coming fourth industrial revolution. One possible solution for people endangered by the fourth industrial revolution is to up-skill and learn fundamental and state-of-the-art programming skills. However, they can still face ageism at work as most corporations prefer young blood.

Our Professional Decline:

I recently read an article “Your Professional Decline is Coming (Much) Sooner than you think” ,by Arthur C. Brooks, which got me thinking on the subject. According to the article, early decline is inescapable in some professions especially physically demanding jobs. But data also indicate that most people, in most fields, decline starts earlier than almost anyone thinks. Even profession which requires mental processing speed or significant analytic capabilities noticeable decline is probably going to set in earlier than most people imagine. The lack of transition plan after the onset of professional decline leads to joylessness, depression and even suicide. You can manage your transition from fluid intelligence oriented career to Crystallized intelligence oriented career.

 FIRE and Automation:

Although I am happy that Andrew Yang and Arthur C. Brooks are directing the attention to dangers of Automation and early professional decline, one factor that I notice that people don’t consider is FIRE. Since most people either have to keep working past their professional decline or have their jobs endangered by A.I/Automation, FIRE would be an interesting option for people to consider.

FIRE:

What is FIRE? What does Automation have to do with it? To the uninitiated, FIRE stands for Financial Independence and Retirement Early. Being Financially Independent is NOT synonymous with being wealthy. FIRE is about liberating your most precious resource -your time- to pursue things which makes you more happy. Financial Independence is achieved when you do not need to work for money anymore. One becomes FI by saving aggressively and prudently investing over the years until you are no longer dependent on money to handle you life.

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Overall, the pattern of changes are clear. A.I, Machine learning and Automation is going to revolutionize the future job market. FIRE is a worthwhile strategy and a life-style change in the face of the fourth industrial revolution.

What do you think and do share your thoughts?

I intend to write a series of blog posts on FIRE in the coming months.