What the fuck is “Deep Work”?
I don’t mean emotional deep work, which may be the way you’re used to hearing this phrase. When I say “Deep Work” I mean the productivity practice of eliminating distractions, and zooming in on one specific task to completion at an exemplary level of focus. The phrase was coined by Cal Newport, who authored a text of the same title, focused on how to put Deep Work into practice to become more innovative and productive.
As he tells us, it’s a practice that’s been largely lost in our age of constant distraction – but I’m betting you’ve done it before.
You might not even know you’ve been there
Think of the last time you sat down to create something, put on headphones, turned off your notifications, and worked, with singular focus, on one thing for an extended period of time? Maybe even until it was finished?
THAT’S deep work. Well, it’s a bit of an oversimplification, but at the core that’s what it is. Why does this matter?
Because deep work expands your time – and for so many entrepreneurs, time is the only major limiting factor for our businesses. If we have a 9-5, we sneak hours here and there to work on our business, in between obligations related to work. If we have little ones, we sneak hours here and there to work on our business, during naps, play dates, and planned activities.
And in those short bursts we do have, we get done what we can. I don’t know about you…. but for me, those stollen moments ALWAYS feel like they’re not enough. When I work in an ever-distracted state, I find myself finishing less in my time, falling behind, and then (to make matters worse) questioning my ability in the first place.
But Deep Productivity means that I essentially create time for myself, by focusing so specifically on a task that it’s done in significantly less time than would otherwise have been possible. Thereby, extending the amount of time I have at my disposal.
And doing it isn’t rocket science, either!
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO DEEP PRODUCTIVITY:
- Turn off ALL non-essential notifications
- Create a space free of distractions, whether this means putting on headphones, or doing this during nap time.
- Set a timer, because you’re gonna get INTO it and forget what time it is.
- Give yourself breaks – I generally take a short break every 40 minutes.
- Treat it like meditation. Keep a notebook next to you if it helps, and when you’re distracted by another task that needs done, instead of stopping what you’re doing and immediately shifting your focus to the other thing *make note of what you remembered you needed to do,* so that you can come back to it later. Acknowledge the distraction, and then sit back into your focus.
- Don’t use deep work for extended periods. 3-ish hours a day of deep work is enough to EXHAUST you mentally – but… you’ll also get done more than twice what you would have in the same amount of time!
Watch the change
When you implement this practice, so, so much can change for you. You might find yourself not only more productive, but more innovative. You’ll be able to more effectively generate a creative space for yourself. And – of course – you’ll achieve your goals more quickly, because you compressed your time by using it wisely.