go deep, not wide

Go Deep, Not Wide

I have stumbled upon the concept of ‘going deep, not wide’ on various blogs and websites over the holiday break, the time of year when these self-help, personal improvement, “what should my new year’s resolution be?” topics tend to bubble to the surface and swim around the internet. The basic gist is rather than constantly finding newer shinier things to take up your time and attention, focus on what is in front of you, what you have already started and abandoned or already doing. Do it the best you can, go deep into it and explore it fully.

As someone who has a shockingly short attention span, curious mind and tendency to procrastinate, this really resonated with me. I’ve started so many things that I’ve lost interest in almost immediately and spent a lot of money on (guitar, screen printing, watercolour painting and photography to name a few). Last year I came to the decision to finish what I start. I decided to put my focus solely on finishing my degree, instead of completing subjects here and there. Firstly, it was taking me ages to complete and I was sick of it hanging over my head and secondly, I wasn’t doing it all the time I was forgetting what I had previously learnt (this becomes difficult when completing capstone subjects that refer heavily on previous subject’s content). I had to put some things aside I love, such as Urban Granola, reading, socialising and be disciplined to not take on anything else. But you know what, I got it done.

With so many distractions pulling us in different directions it’s difficult to stop and put all our energy and focus into one thing. Even doing one task at a time seems impossible (I bet as you read this you have multiple tabs open on your browser, I do!) but studies have shown that productivity actually decreases when multitasking. What’s more worrying is that IQ and memory can be affected by multitasking. On a micro level multitasking is terrible but I also think it plays into a bigger issue on a macro level. We can no longer commit long term to things we get joy from because we get distracted with a newer, shinier thing and get duped into thinking we can do it all. Then we wonder why we never achieve anything!

How to Go Deep, Not Wide

Learn to love the process

Get enjoyment out of the doing and giving your full attention to one task, don’t worry about the outcome.

Single task

Technically multitasking is impossible but toggling constantly between tasks reduces your productivity significantly.

Get more meaning out of what you already have

Let’s face it, most of us don’t need more, we already have enough. Love and appreciate what you have.

Consume less

By going deeper we need less, we use what we already have and therefore we consume less.

Think deeply about the why

We get a dopamine hit from social validation. Do you just want the kudos, like the romance and appearance of doing it or are genuinely interested? Social media and consumer culture has tricked us into thinking we need more. Keep that in mind when you want to buy into the latest trend.

Take the challenge of going deeper

  • Read that gigantic stack of unread books before buying any new ones

  • More on the book thing, stop buying cookbooks (ok, this one might be directed at me) and cook recipes out of the ones you already own

  • Don’t sign up to any new online courses, finish at least on that you already started

  • Use the apps you already have instead of the new one that just came out promising you unparalleled organisation in your life

  • Pick up that fancy DSLR camera gather dust and actually learn how to use it properly

  • Instead of reading new articles, go through your saved lists (Facebook and Instagram) and bookmarks

  • Cultivate the relationships you already have (be they business or personal), it’s fun making new friends but building deeper relationships with those already in your circle will enrich your life