Updated: Mar 31, 2022
December 29th, 2021
How to Work Deeply
It can be very easy to get distracted while working. Our phone goes off, people and animals can interrupt us, and a medley of other distractions can pull us away from doing our work. Even after working for a bit, our minds can often wander to the notifications waiting on our phones, or we simply don’t feel like working. This can all be quite challenging when we want to get projects and tasks accomplished. So what is the remedy to this? Doing what is called “Deep Work.” Initially coined by the author Cal Newport, the idea of deep work has now become quite widespread. In this blog post, I’m going to detail a few ways to work deeply and accomplish what you want to get done.
The first step to doing deep work is to ritualize the process for doing it. This is comprised of three components. Firstly, you need to ritualize where you’ll work and how long. If you can work in the same place and for the same amount of time consistently, you’ll develop a habit, and your brain will associate that space and time with working distraction-free and concentrated. Secondly, how you’ll work once you start to work. What will you be focusing on? What type of work are you seeking to accomplish? And how will you set yourself up so you don’t have distractions? This can include things like leaving your cell phone in another room, putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, and whatever else can help you stay distraction-free. And thirdly, how you’ll support your work. Will you have adequate water/tea/coffee to keep you in the zone? Do you have any snacks with you in case you get hungry? You need to provide yourself with everything necessary to ensure you keep high energy throughout your deep work session.
Once you have ritualized the process for beginning deep work, next you need to execute. This part is done in four distinct steps or “Disciplines.” Each of these will help you stay focused on getting things done and ensuring you are performing at an optimal rate.
Focus on specific and ambitious goals. An excellent way to design your goals is using the SMART Goals system. If you don’t know how to use it, click HERE to read a blog detailing the system. Make sure you have a goal for the long term and the specific deep work session. This will help you stay on track and ensure you have an objective for the session that will keep you focused.
Focus on behaviours that lead you to your goal. Are there elements of your deep work session that prevent you from reaching your goal? For example, say you start a deep work session at the start of your workday to accomplish the important tasks first. Do you start it by checking your email? Does that actually help you push forward in your career? Do you have a habit of checking your phone every few minutes? Put it in another room for the duration of the session. Do you have any routines or rituals that don’t lead you closer to your goal? Simply minimize or eliminate them for your session.
Keep a cardstock scoreboard divided into weeks. Tape it to the wall in front of your desk so you can always see it. Mark down each hour of deep/distraction-free and focused work per day. At the end of the week, tally up the total hours. This is your score for the week. Try to improve your score every week, and you’ll see yourself accomplish more and be more productive than you’ve ever been!
Use a weekly review. Once the week is up, take some time to look over everything you did during the week. How can you improve? Were you unnecessarily distracted and lost focus during a session? Figure out how to eliminate or minimize that distraction. Was there an area you could do better in? Make that area the priority for next week. Every week consider how you could make each session more productive and efficient.
I hope that these few tips for working deeply can help you in your career and personal projects. Following these steps above and tailoring them to your particular needs will set you up for great success in your life! Watch you accomplish and do more than you ever thought was possible! Avoid distractions and maintain focus.
Until next time,