In order to achieve great things, you need to focus deeply on your work. That’s the message from Cal Newport in his book “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.”
According to Newport, the ability to focus deeply is becoming increasingly rare and therefore more valuable. And it’s not just about getting things done quickly; deep work is essential for producing superior results and developing new skills.
Cal Newport defines the work as follow:
Newport makes a distinction between deep work ("Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.")
and shallow work ("Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create new value in the world and are easy to replicate").
Here a few tips to increase your productivity:
1. Set a daily or weekly goal for deep work hours and stick to it.
Sometimes, it's hard to find time during the day to focus deeply on topics and projects that really matter. Humans including myself tend to be hyperconnected, checking emails every 10 minutes, replying to slack messages instantaneously and working on many different projects at the same time. But the truth is that this way of working generates more stress than satisfaction.
Starting on a project at 9am, jumping on a phone call at 9.13am to discuss about another project, replying to random emails at 10.35 am, creating a PR strategy for a client at 11.01am, producing content for social media at 12h03, publishing a LinkedIn Post at 12h05 makes the day very intense. And at the end of the day, you feel that you've done nothing... The 9am project was the most important and you just had dedicated 1 hour…
Well, this can not happen anymore. Start planning deep work hours sessions, no interruptions allowed and you’ll see how relieved you will be.
2. Create a dedicated workspace that is free of distractions.
Even though you’re not aware, the brain responds to distraction. If you’re working in an open space office, it’s great but when you have to focus on something important, you’d rather not being disturb by your colleagues who might come over when they feel to it and ask you to grab a coffee. This 5 min talk could make your lose sight of your project although it was meant to be a distraction.
If you’re working from home, make sure you have your own space, free of distractions to do deep work sessions. If you share a flat, it’s important to set up strict rules to manage to work deeply too.
3. Turn off all notifications
Say goodbye to newspapers, whatsapp, skype, emails notificacions for a while, just the time you need to focus on your tasks. Forget the shallow work and opt for the deep work for better results and higher satisfaction at the end of the day.
4. Plan also time for distraction (walk, night)
I talked a lot about taking time to focus and distraction is also part of the process. If you’re not able to disconnect yourself from your work, if you always think about what you’ll need to do tomorrow, you’ll never be able to create value on your work. You need this time of disconnection to be better and more efficient and come up with great ideas.
Deep work is a challenging habit to form, but it’s essential for anyone who wants to achieve their full potential. By following these five strategies, you can make deep work a part of your daily routine :)