July 5, 2022

How to do deep work?

Deep work is a state of flow at work that requires total focus on doing profound, unique, and meaningful work that no one can easily replicate. What is the secret to achieving deep work?

Deep work is a state of flow at work that requires total focus on doing profound, unique, and meaningful work that no one can easily replicate. The secret to achieving deep work is embedding deep work as part of your routine. This could take days, weeks, or months to master. But as soon as you can focus a few hours a day in an environment with no distractions, consistently, you will start to see the power of deep work.

What is deep work?

Deep work is a term coined by Cal Newport in his book of the same name, which refers to work that requires your full concentration in order to accomplish. It's a skill that's increasingly needed in today's world of constant distraction, but it's also one that's surprisingly difficult to master.

For a lot of people, doing deep work—working with full concentration on a demanding task for an extended period of time without distraction—is hard. It's not fun to wrestle with hard problems that demand our attention and leave us drained at the end of the day. But if we can learn to accept the challenge, make deep work a habit, and develop our capacity to concentrate, it will bring us many rewards in both our professional and personal lives.

Deep work is an ability that can be cultivated through training and practice, like a skill or muscle. Just as you might set aside time to practice playing an instrument or train in a sport, you can make deep work a regular part of your schedule and build up your capacity to focus on hard things for extended periods of time.

So how can you get better at doing deep work?

Turn off distractions

The first step is to figure out where the biggest leaks in your attention are coming from. Is it social media? Emails about non-urgent tasks? If leaving the red dot with numbers adding up is hard to look away from, try turning off your phone or turning off notifications. Set your devices on do not disturb or shut them down completely.

Another thing involved in this is to also do deep work in a place away from distractions. Whether you are easily sidetracked working in a place full of noise, and with other people around, find an area where you are able to fully concentrate on your work.

Schedule a routine for deep work

It is recommended to set aside a couple of hours every morning for deep work. This ensures that you're able to clear your head, and helps you get into the routine of doing deep work as soon as possible.

Like anything else, deep work requires practice and habit building. First and foremost, you have to find time for it in your schedule. If there are times during the day or week when you're not being interrupted by meetings or emails, start using those times for your deep work sessions. Don't wait to be completely ready before you begin—start doing it on a regular basis, even if you only have one day a week where you know there won't be any interruptions or distractions (the rest of the days will still be unpredictable).

Don’t multitask

The whole idea of multitasking is a lie we tell ourselves—it's something we tell ourselves to make our lack of focus sound like a virtue. When we're distracted, we don't think of what we're doing as multitasking. It's when we're focused on one thing that we call multitasking. So in our minds, it's not that we're not focusing. It's just that we're doing multiple things at once.

However, there's nothing efficient about our current method of working: whether you're writing an email while checking your Facebook feed or answering a question from a coworker while taking notes on your meeting with your boss, it usually takes much more time to switch between tasks than if you were concentrating on one thing at a time.

Leave shallow work for later

Our workloads are growing, and it's hard to keep up. So we let shallow work creep back in to take the pressure off. We skim social media, check our emails, or put in time on tasks that require only a cursory glance at the clock to confirm that we're not slacking off. It is important to remember that being busy is not equal to being productive. A good way to optimize your time is to start your morning with deep work first, It could be for an hour, and then focus on your shallow work the rest of the day.

Deep work is only worth doing for tasks that require more than just a shallow level of attention. The biggest hurdle will probably be your own mind—you'll go from thinking about what else needs to get done (or what else you'd rather be doing) to thinking about how great it would feel to take a break and check social media. You need to break this habit and teach yourself that taking a break right now isn't going to help anything—your actual goal is to finish what's in front of you first before going on to something else.

Take a complete distraction-free rest

When you've been working non-stop for hours and your brain is running on fumes, it can be hard to tear yourself away from it. The desire to do even one more thing with your time is strong. But at some point, it's worth it to take a genuine distraction-free rest. You deserve it, and your work will thank you later. The time you give your mind to rest is as important as the time you’re focused on work.

The main principle behind this approach is that on a particular day, you'll be allowing yourself to rest—with no digital devices, no reading, no writing, nothing. You'll just be taking time to relax and do nothing at all. This means that you don't have anything planned beyond this time period. It restores and recharges your mind and body to catch up with the energy expended from doing intensive work.

In today's fast-paced environment, it is becoming increasingly harder for people to work on creative tasks for longer periods of time. A lot of people need some time every day to think about a problem and come up with solutions for it. However, most of us find it hard to do so because of all the other demands on our attention and the constant stream of information coming from social media feeds, e-mail inboxes, text messages, and more.

It has been said before that the ability to do deep work is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. This means that people who learn how to focus without distractions will have more job opportunities and will be able to perform better in their endeavors.