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At the beginning of 2016, I read a book that changed how I approach my work. This book is called Deep Work by my friend Cal Newport. After I finished the book, I realized that I need to spend more of my time doing deep work.
There have been too many moments where I have felt unfulfilled by some of the work I’ve been doing. Despite being very productive, I found myself caught up in having things into my “need to do” list that really should be in my “ought to do” list.
Making this distinction has allowed me to get to the things I want to do faster. I’ve also been able to do all of the things I really need and want to do better.
Making the choice to shift toward doing more deep work is difficult when you’ve got a lot going on. So how can you make the transition to spend more focused time in deep work?
Here’s what I’ve been doing…
- I’m batching shallow work better. Things like email, social media, administrative work. I find these tasks work best when I batch them together. This means spending a couple hours on shallow work intentionally instead of doing it in the margins. I am also able to do these tasks better with this strategy in place and it also allows me to spend more time in deep work mode.
- I’m using two new modes. I’ve added the modes “Deep Work” and “Shallow Work” to my task management process. (They’ve essentially replaced “High Energy” and “Low Energy” because I need high energy to do deep work and far less energy to do shallow work. I think they’ll serve me better in this endeavour.)
- I’m using Freedom during my peak creative hours. Freedom is a tool I’ve used before to assist me in fostering better discipline. It’s even better now, as it can works on my iOS devices too. I run sessions during my peak creative hours (10 pm to 1 am) so that I don’t “accidentally” go online during that time.
These are the ways I’ve been able to focus more on deep work. At the office. At home. On the road. If you’re on the fence, I know (first hand) that it isn’t easy to get going with this when you start, but it is worth the effort.
Why is that?
As Cal Newport says at the end of his new book: “I’ll live the focused life, because it’s the best kind there is.”
To hear Cal and I talk more about the idea of deep work, check out this episode of The Productivityist Podcast. You can also check out the book review of Deep Work here.