Transform Your Work Ethic: Embracing Deep Work for Exceptional Professional Achievement

In my 25 years working in technology, I’ve seen one mistake people make over and over again: They forget to produce high quality work that requires deep thinking and time.

There is a point in people’s career when they have collected enough knowledge and other people start to rely on them. They require their time.

Then, calls fill calendars, time slots get smaller, and we run from one thing to the next.

We juggle. We are distracted. We lose control.

The antidote is Deep Work. Let’s dive in!

What is Deep Work?

The phrase was coined by Cal Newport, associate professor of Computer Science at Georgetown.

He defines it as:

Activities 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.

Cal Newport

Cal says that to be truly productive in this fast-paced environment, we need to minimise the shallow.

Shallow work is tempting though!

Taking meetings, responding to emails, surfing the web and using social media is far less taxing than deep thinking. A full calendar makes us feel important. Rushing around, being needed … all signs we somehow connect with successful people. They are busy, they must be important!

However, shallow work also makes us feel like we didn’t get anything done at the end of the day.

And there is the catch! We are caught between shallow and deep work.

Deep thinking and deep work requires much more. It requires focus and attention.

How to Cultivate Deep Work?

First, you need to define a period of a couple of hours when you can be without distractions.

I like doing deep work in the earlier parts of the day. This gives me the best results. I typically block 3 hours every day for this type of work.

When I start my work day, I have set aside 30 minutes to deal with any urgent emails and follow my process for Inbox Zero. Then my deep focus block starts.

During this time, I block notifications and minimise distractions.

I also already know and have planned what I will be working on during that time. There is no time wasted on anything else, but working on the task.

If you are just getting started with this concept, try to start with a 1 or 2-hour block.

During this time, you want to avoid the enemies of productivity:

  • multitasking
  • task-switching
  • being online/connected to electronic devices

What you want to do instead is to:

Be ruthless with your time: Block your calendar and don’t allow any calls/meetings etc. Do not check your emails.

Establish and follow a ritual: I turn on my deep focus playlist. I have a cup of tea next to me. My door is closed. My brain automatically switches over.

Set boundaries: Let your colleagues or family members know, so they won’t interrupt you.

Have the mental energy: My deep focus blocks are in the morning when I’m the freshest. I usually did a work-out and am ready to go! If I have to do a block in the afternoon, I go for a walk before to clear my head.

Long-Term Benefits of Deep Work How

Once you have established rituals and are used to doing deep work, your life, and work will change.

Using this type of sustained concentration will:

  • fuel your innovation
  • enhance your productivity
  • increase the quality of your work
  • develop your skills quicker
  • reduce stress
  • skyrocket your ability to work on complex tasks and think strategic
  • accelerate professional and personal growth

Your Action Items:

  1. Create a Distraction-Free Environment: Define a space and time to work without interruptions. Start with one focus block per week. Use your most productive hours.
  2. Prioritise Tasks for Deep Work: Identify work that requires intense focus and schedule it for this focus block.
  3. Schedule the next Deep Work Sessions: Set up a recurring block of time and block it on your calendar.

Also, check out the book Cal Newport wrote that coined the term. It is called Deep Work and available as audiobook as well!

I don’t post affiliate links here, I’m sure you can find it in your favourite app/shop.

Tagged in:


Last Update: December 09, 2023