When I read Deep Work by Cal Newport I was struck by just how many of the ideas he mentions in the book are especially relevant to modern day polymaths. Not only does his advice provide useful details on how to work more effectively but also it suggests that by learning how to work deeply polymaths will have an advantage in the economy of the future.
In this short video, we summarise the key ideas of the book relevant to living a polymathic lifestyle which include the importance of scheduling time and building routines around your work. One idea I’ve found especially useful is to follow his advice write down the next steps whenever I finish learning something new in order to free my mind from continually working on solving the problem. This tackles a phenomenon known as the ‘Zeigernik effect’ where your mind remains on unfinished tasks even when you want to be resting or doing something else. This is especially problematic if you’re working on multi-disciplines as you’ll need to switch between vastly different ideas and ways of thinkings very quickly. Cal’s solution is taken from a paper by Roy Baumeister entitled “Consider it done!” which advocates for list and plan making as a means of giving your brain permission to move on.
Another interesting idea from the book mentioned in the video is Cal Newport’s reference to Arnold Bennett who said in his 1910 book ‘How to Live on 24 hours a day” that you should use your leisure time to do the things you’d do if you didn’t have to work. In essence, you should create for yourself a day within a day for “rigorous self-improvement”. Bennett suggested that you should ask yourself how you would spend your day if you were an aristocrat who inherited a fortune and consequently has no need to do any work.
This is the first video we’ve produced for the new Polymath Show YouTube channel so we’d love to get your feedback as well as your thoughts on how to work more efficiently when learning a new skill.
The Polymath Show is a series of videos, podcasts and articles on how to learn everything and what it means to be a polymath in the 21st century.
We explore how to become a polymath in the modern age, using experimentation, accelerated learning and smart tools to get good at everything.
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