The one book every researcher should read

Most researchers and Ph.D. students are overworked, and still not happy with their productivity. But what if I told you that you can double or triple your productivity by working even less than the hours you are putting now? You might think this is impossible. But it is not.

Remember a time you produced the maximum output in your thesis or in research work. If it was like mine, you had gotten into the zone, thoughts were flowing rather than being forced, and you produced a significant quantity of work in a short time. You did not even feel exhausted at the end but rather felt nice throughout. One important thing was, there was no distraction. You were 100 percent into whatever you doing. In the new terminology that is getting quite popular, you were doing deep work.

Now think of why do you not produce like that every day. Why are those productive bursts far and few in between? On most days work is drudgery. The answer could be “distractions”. While it is true that on some projects you might be stuck waiting for data or something that you cannot help, you can still work on other things. The number one enemy of a researcher, Ph.D. student or in fact any knowledge worker is distraction.

Watch this video about focus and distraction.

Now, how do you get rid of distractions and bring back focus on your work? Cal Newport is a professor who is also a productivity enthusiast. His book, Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”, is a must read for every knowledge worker today, especially for researchers. Just inculcating this habit of doing deep work every day can help you achieve many times more. Using these practices, the author was able to publish six peer-reviewed journal articles and a mainstream book in a year apart from his teaching responsibilities, while working only Monday to Friday, morning to evening 5 PM, and while also giving time to his young children.

If you can work distraction free for even few hours a day, the results can be order of magnitude higher. However, it is not easy. There are many questions that immediately spring up. The author has thankfully done his research quite well and he has given a complete framework which can help everyone incorporate deep work into their schedule. Buy this book, and read it completely. Make changes in your life which will enable you to live a much more productive and happy life.



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