Be Focused Or Be Replaced!

As I’m living in China and going alongside Chinese workers, I’m seeing everyday what we call: “Competition”. This highly competitive market give big advantages to people who can learn quickly and deeply and people who can apply. When you have a job here, you already know that if you’re not a good member you’ll be replaced in the following hours. There are a lot of people who are as good as you and who are waiting for an opportunity. Maybe you’ll feel like it’s not the case in the place you live because the population is not as big as the Chinese one. But you’re wrong ! The one who will replace you is maybe not a human but maybe a robot. So be focused or get replaced !

Shallow work

The shallow work is basically the work that everybody can do. It includes a lot of basics actions that most of us do everyday unconsciously. Let me give you an example. You go to your office, you set everything up to start your day. You start by checking the emails, prepare a cup of coffee and take a notepad. You’re ready. Then during your day, unconsciously or consciously, you check your emails every 15/20 minutes. Your mind is focused on what happening in you inbox. Ads, Notifications, emails from friends, email for colleague, etc… Now, let’s say one of your friend send a message on Facebook, Wechat, Twitter, … Your mind is once again off work. But you think it’s just for few minutes right ? It’s nothing. Without adding up the minutes you spend off work all day (1 hour and half per day if you spend 5 minutes each 20 minutes for a 6 hour workday), you will surely at some point receive distractive messages. You can become angry, sad, excessively happy, etc… and these feelings affect your efficiency at work. If you’re angry you’ll become less patient and at the first error you’ll abandon or shout on your colleague and thus affect the relation you have with him/her.

A solution for your boss ? Yes! Replace you. But let’s say your boss is someone with a lot of compassion. He/she replaces you just every 15/20 minutes to check the notifications and emails and get angry, sad, etc… and save you from these possible states. And guess what, he/she will take someone way less paid than you and that person will give the same productivity as you on that period. The boss will pay less for the same work done. So stop doing shallow work or get replaced !

Deep work

At this point you understand what is deep work (I hope so). This is basically this opposite of shallow work. The work that few people can do. It might seems really hard to do in some jobs and sometimes it’s the case but we can definitely apply it in every cases. By staying focused and by analyzing your environment and your productivity you can find ways to improve your efficiency and so having more time for you. Let’s say you’re a cashier, it looks like a shallow work right ? You just say: “Hello”, then you scan the goods and finally you say the price. Furthermore, you’re a species threaten by extinction because of automatic scanners right ? That’s, for me, just partly true. Of course, if you just define your work as basics steps, I just have one thing to say: “Please guys, bring the robot!”. If you define your work as an interaction with people, as a way to help people and by understanding them you help them feel better and sometimes give them a smile. You definitively have a competitive advantage on robots or other cashiers who are depressed about the situation.

It’s applicable in all jobs! It can be: create a script to automatize shallow work and so being more productive and/or it can be social skills. In other terms: Hard skills and soft skills. You can have these skills by working on them. And by working I mean: you need to focus. Deep focus is necessary to make links between knowledges and so to understand the concepts. Being too affected by external environment can make you waste you time and make you miss important informations. The goal is not to totally being recluse from the society and live alone (even if it’s a solution) but it’s more to learn how to avoid distractions (mails, distractive rooms, …) and so finally improve your performances by understanding deeply. So practice focus or get replaced !


You’re afraid of loosing your job ? Don’t worry, you just need to being a member of the deep work club. It gives you a insurance to keep your job for life or an easy job conversion. For more advices and tips on how to join the club I recommend you the following book: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

Finally, if you have some ideas about this article and you want to share them with me, you can find my contact infos at the bottom of the page.

Written on December 24, 2017