how to achieve deep work

how to achieve deep work

“Efforts to deepen your focus will struggle if you don’t simultaneously wean your mind from a dependence on distraction.”

“To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.”

― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Many people think doing a lot of things at once is the best way to increase their productivity, but this mindset is absolutely incorrect. If there’s one thing you can keep in mind as you begin your work day, it’s this maxim: Multitasking does not equal productivity

Multitasking makes you less focused on the most important task at hand. And the same applies for incessant electronic connection. While the constant buzzing of your cell phone and the habit of keeping social media and email tabs open in your web browser may seem innocuous, the truth is that each of them are robbing your focus and your precious attention. Even if you don’t immediately address notifications while working, simply seeing things pop on your screen and/or listening to repetitive tones can easily derail your focus and concentration. 

So how do you overcome these harmless seeming roadblocks and set yourself up for accomplishing deep work? Here are a few effective strategies that you can experiment with:

  1. The Monastic Approach: This strategy involves eliminating all sources of distraction and isolating yourself like a monk.
  2. The Bimodal Approach: This method entails setting a clearly defined, long period of seclusion dedicated to work and leaving the remaining time on your calendar for everything else.
  3. The Rhythmic Approach: In this strategy, you form a habit of doing deep work for pre-determined chunks of time, for instance, blocks of 90 minutes, and using the calendar to monitor your accomplishments. 
  4. The Journalistic Approach: Here you take any unexpected free time in your daily routine and use it to do deep work. 

It doesn’t matter which technique you choose to employ, what’s important to remember is they’re purposeful and methodical, not random. This key difference is what distinguishes deep work from being in the zone. Getting in the zone happens only by chance and often requires a surge of willpower after hours of procrastination. Deep work, on the flip side, is intentional and conscious effort, and hence necessitates setting up rituals to prepare your mind for it such as defining your space and creating boundaries. 

Distractions and temptations have occupied every nook and cranny in the modern world and multitasking is quickly becoming our default approach to stay on top of things. This is not only killing our productivity but also negatively affecting our health and well-being. However, we can always choose to eliminate everyday distractions and let our brains focus on one task at a time. In an age where technology is evolving at an exponential pace, it’s crucial that we become proactive and learn to practice deep work consistently.