I sit in front of the keyboard, fingers hovering over the keys. I stop for a sip of some strong, hot tea; ponder a few minutes and then return to the keyboard. A blog entry needed, a lesson plan for an upcoming presentation, and a TR quote search are on the agenda for the day. I stop and take a sip of tea and return to the keyboard hover.
Theodore Roosevelt was not a keyboard hoverer. He didn’t take breaks to sip some tea or adjust a chair. He was the President of the United States, a Rough Rider, a busy father and husband, a hunter and rider, and a man that never seemed to sit still yet managed to publish 40 books, numerous articles, and more letters than I care to ever count. How did he do it?
Well, author Cal Newport in his book Deep Work explains how he believes TR achieved his full life. Newport highlights that TR knew he had to concentrate without distraction during a specific amount of time.
While at Harvard, TR developed an intense study or “deep work” attitude. He would schedule every minute of his day including every activity, meal breaks, and classes. Any “spare time” was slated for study -study that did not include daydreams, sips of tea or any sign of indecision. He focused, without breaks, an intense frenzy of concentrated energy.
TR’s accomplishments set an example for those who wish to make a mark on the world. Is anyone up for “deep work”?
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Theodore Roosevelt at his desk. n.d. 1958 Theodore Roosevelt Centennial Symposium. Dickinson State University. Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library. Dickinson State University.