Working with headphones in

I know, I know, it was only a couple of posts ago I was moaning about how much I listen to music. And how, this constant beratement of music in my life: on my walks, during work hours, with God in quiet times etc etc, was slowly numbing me to the power of music. I’m aware this is a total 180 turnaround.

Maybe life isn’t as black or white as a single permanent solution.

So today, in my lunch break, I write to tell you that working from home with headphones in has really helped me focus on work and “get in the zone”.

When working from home, the default when listening to music, is to have it blasting out from my phone. But there’s something more focused about listening through headphones.

  • Better sound
  • Cuts off outside noise
  • Clear break from work, as well as a clear entering into work-mode.
  • Also, a lot of headphones these days allow you to pause/play the next song, without actually picking up your phone and getting distracted by personal e-mails/messages.

That’s it. If you’re struggling to focus working from home, try using headphones for your music.

Priorities

“Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment” – John C. Maxwell.

This morning I was reading through The Acts of the Apostles and stumbled upon this verse:

It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables…we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word”

It made me think of priorities and what do we do.

I’m currently feel slowly being nudged back into “church ministry” after a 9+ month withdrawal. It’s been a refreshing and revealing season, with several challenges, unexpected accomplishments and a lot of heart work.

And now, I’m being presented with several opportunities to serve in different ways. From preaching, to mentoring. From youth groups to small groups. I’m still establishing myself in the habit of writing and learning new things in that area.

So how do I choose what to engage with and what not? (See Life Purpose)

In this Bible reading, I realised there is another solution when presented with an opportunity. Another solution aside from engage or not engaging. A solution called: delegation.

Delegation: Frees me to focus on my calling, allows others to step into leadership, encourages me to pass on what I know, affirms the gifts and passions of others.

Ti-Yong: Blog or Book?

When China began copying alternative models for industrialisation in the 19th Century, they adopted a policy of ‘Ti-Yong’. Which means ’Essence’ and ’Form’. They intended to keep the Chinese Essence – their identity and character. But change their Form to match the approach to development used by the foreign countries.

In the same way, I think my blog is going to undergo a Ti-Yong transformation.

I have really enjoyed blogging these last couple of months! (Like a lot!) It’s been helpful way to reflect on my week in the Sunday Summaries. To consolidate my Personal Bible Studies with the Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts. As well as regurgitate the various tips, tricks and hints I’ve learnt that week about productivity and motivation etc.

However

As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m also writing a book at the moment. I finished my first draft back in July and gave it to a friend to read over and feedback.

In that time since, I’ve taken up blogging to fill the writing void. It’s been so encouraging.

When you work on a book, it’s very private, there is no immediate feedback and there are few (if any) people who encourage you along the way. With blogs you can change topic to match whatever you feel like writing about that day/week, whereas a book involves sticking with the same theme for a long time. Plus, you can’t make money (albeit pennies) with every chapter, like you can with blog posts.

So thank you to everyone who has read, commented, liked, any post I’ve written. I have been so encouraged!

I got the feedback, on my first draft a few weeks ago and have since really struggled to make much progress with the editing/re-draft because my morning slot for writing is filled with blogging.

So I’ve done a pros and cons…and here’s my decision:

My decision,

I will continue to blog, however, I will no longer be aiming for daily posting.

Since I’ve benefitted from the Sunday summaries, I’m going to keep doing that. I hope you will want to stick around at least for the weekly catch ups.

I’ve also decided that my Bible Study posts are going to change. Instead I’m going to post a picture of my final draft notes. See tomorrow’s post. Which means, I’m going back to Genesis 1:1-2-3. Hopefully, this model will be more sustainable in the long term.

I regards to Tuesday Tools and Thursday thoughts…I think this will be more sporadic and low priority.

Finally I will continue to post notes on Systematic Theology.

In short…

The blog will remain active. But the style of several of the posts will change. I hope you will still be interested to read and visit, follow my story etc.

But I have decided I will focus my writing attention on the book as a priority.

I’d appreciate your prayers. Editing has turned out to be way more challenging than writing, and I have so much to work through. Please pray that I can think clearly, write brilliantly and persevere in the hidden/secret place.

Best wishes, Paul

Tuesday Tools – Deep Work

Around January last year (according to my Goodreads account) I finished Cal Newport’s book: Deep Work. It’s a book that argues that we come up with the best ideas and most meaningful progress when we engage in focused, uninterrupted and undistracted work.

It claims that for “knowledge workers” deep work is becoming increasingly rare, with the deluge of immediate-response social media, attention-stealing technology and the demand to stay on top of e-mails and messages.

Since the ability to engage in deep work is rare, it is also becoming significantly valuable.

I jumped back into this audiobook during my exercise yesterday, to refresh my memory, and started with the beginning of Part 2.

In the chapter I listened to yesterday, he explained that we need to choose which “philosophy” fits our work best.

1. The Monastic Philosophy – this is where you take weeks and months apart from ordinary life to focus on deep work. He gave the example of an author going to a cabin in the woods for weeks to study. I think JK Rowling also did something similar when she wrote the last Harry Potter – checking into an expensive hotel for weeks until it was done!

2. The Bimodal Philosophy – this is where you take some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits of work. It could be Mondays and Tuesdays that you are “unreachable” and don’t answer the phone or e-mails. It could be using a week to focus on working deeply.

Suprisingly, most people will respect decisions to isolate for the sake of productivity at work, provided 1) the times of distance are well-advertised and well-defined and 2) you are available and able to complete other tasks the rest of the timme.

3. The Rhythmic Philosophy – This is where you set aside, say 90 minutes each day to pursue deep work. It is less about “getting away” and more about “setting apart” your time, consistently and habitually.

When it comes to implementing the Rhythmic Philosophy, you will find many of the tools for keeping up with other habits useful.

4. The Journalistic Philosophy – This is where you switch into deep work whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Cal Newport warns that this is the most difficult, and few people can actually do this well. However, for some this is the only option available.

I personally have found options 2 & 3 useful. When it comes to writing the book I’m working on, I have taken a week off at a time work to write. Waking up early and finishing late, just focused on the single task of writing the book.

However for my 9-5 job with Cancer Research, I tend to use the Rhythmic Philosophy. Setting aside portions of my day when I turn Teams, Skype Chat, E-mails off and simply focus on work that pushes my cognitive abilities to their limit.

If you are interested in finding out more about deep work, (this post only really covers one chapter of the book!) and want to get the book please use my affiliate link below to support this blog:

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Thanks for reading!