There are no chances you can totally avoid distractions when you're working. Your phone keeps shooting you with notifications every 2 minutes, colleagues can't stop gossiping, and funny animal pictures are so tempting to check. Hold on, that's only three distractions from 56 that an average person face at work daily.
Your willpower isn't of steel, so you give up and check these notifications, join your colleagues in gossiping, or secretly watch TikTok videos. Meanwhile, your work deadlines burn bright, and the boss is preparing a long speech to tell you that you're not focused enough.There are no chances you can avoid distractions - except one thing.
Deep work skills can get you out of poor productivity and low concentration hole. It cuts off anything around you that steals your attention and pushes your capabilities to the maximum limit when performing a task. Since high productivity and intense focus are among the top reasons people nowadays get promotions, deep work is necessary to grow a successful career. Let's take a closer look at deep work benefits, strategies, and practices to skyrocket your work performance right away!
Why do you need to get the deep work skill?
We live in a strange world, where many people define productivity mainly by the number of tasks done, not the quality of the result. Still, we should have the remnants of common sense because the multitasking trend is fading away. Scientists claim that doing just one task is efficient and way less stressful than juggling numerous duties. Deep work answers the achievers' prayers - because it allows you to concentrate all of your energy and brain skills when performing a task.
This productivity method is a brainchild of Cal Newport, professor, and bestselling author. He showed the world that deep work is beneficial to any profession. At the same time, he refuted the myth that we can no longer intensely focus on the task in our busy century. His book "Deep work" tells everyone that there's still a place for concentration and effective performance in a world of distractions and gadgets.
Deep work doesn't create limits for you. It's flexible enough to match any schedule and fit any lifestyle, as long as you're willing to develop this skill. When you need to finish an assignment rapidly, prepare a presentation, or at least focus on work when distractions are all around you, deep work is here to help.
Perks of deep work: turn on your inner productivity beast
You can imagine the world around you like chaotic combinations of sounds, thoughts, and pictures. In this world, deep work is a direct road to your goal. When you step on it, at least for a few hours, nothing matters except you and the goal. Now, let's discover the benefits of deep work for your performance and career.
Deep work fills you with creativity to the brim
There's a myth that creative mood and inspiration are hard to find and easy to lose. As if creativity was a shy deer, which you can scare off with any rustle. However, this myth applies only to those people who pay attention to distractions.
When they lose focus, their mind starts wandering from one thought to another, unable to focus on something concrete. Deep work allows you to enter the state where your focus is sharp, and your mind is clear - ready to catch creative ideas and bring them to life.
Deep work boosts your job satisfaction and progress towards big goals
Do you know that annoying feeling of completing tons of tasks noticing no progress? You may think that you're just procrastinating or being ineffective. Cal Newport calls it shallow work - non-cognitive and non-conscious performing minor duties while paying attention to distractions. It could be answering emails, sitting on the long meetings, or doing dull paperwork - commitments that don't affect your career and goals.
However, by following the deep work method, you can achieve more remarkable results and feel how you're becoming closer to reaching your dreams. It will help you feel more productive, increase your job satisfaction, and boost motivation.
Deep work helps you progress your career
Supreme flexibility and quick learning are must-haves for you to grow a flourishing career in our fast-changing world. Still, most of us can't concentrate on learning among tons of distractions - mastering a new skill takes months, if not years.
But when you'll learn to regularly put all your effort into a task during a particular time, you'll see that you manage to reach your goals faster. Deep work allows you to obtain new skills quicker and complete assignments in less time to outplace your colleagues and climb the career ladder.
Deep work reduces work-related stress
Aside from making you tired and taking the lion's share of your time, your work routine could also bring excessive stress to your life. No wonder more than 40% of workers claim that their job is overwhelmingly stressful. One of the reasons is that we tend to juggle numerous tasks simultaneously, and as a result, have poor performance in all of them. Another reason is that some achievers think they could do better in work, overthinking and generating anxious thoughts.
By using deep work in your life, you can fight off this annoying job-related stress. Firstly, it will help you focus on one task and perform it on a higher level. In addition, deep work will grant you the feeling of meaningfulness - you will be able to sense that you're actually contributing instead of wasting work hours.
You can see that deep work is a primary method to achieve significant results and perform tasks quicker. But how can you start practicing deep work if you don't have time to read the book with detailed instructions?
Deep work strategies to fit any schedule
When creating the deep work method, Cal Newport wanted to help every career achiever regardless of their schedule or lifestyle. So he came up with four deep work philosophies with different approaches.
This type of deep work foresees supreme dedication and an ability to stay in a deep work for a long time. If you're only starting your way towards deep work, it could be too extreme for you. When following Monastic philosophy, you should spend mostly all of your work time to work without distractions. For example, you can spend every Saturday in deep work to learn a new language quicker or dedicate all your work hours solely to essential tasks.
If your brain needs periodic diversity to stay on top of its performance, you can try to plan your "deep work" seasons ahead. You clearly set boundaries for periods of deep work, and the rest of the time you can spend on shallow work. It will allow you to reach excellent results in a short time and then let your mind rest. For instance, you can schedule 2 deep work weeks per month and two other leave for less intense work.
When following rhythmic type, you turn periods of focused work into your daily habit. It will be less complex to start making small steps towards incorporating deep work into your life. In addition, this is the most common deep work philosophy because it doesn't limit most of your day. You can begin with one hour per day, then gradually increase the amount of time spent in your "focused mode."
Sometimes you can predict how your workday will look like or can't plan due to unexpected meetings or urgent assignments. But don't worry, you can still practice deep work even with such a schedule. Journalistic philosophy foresees that you dive into deep work every time you have a free hour. For example, if you've canceled a video call or finish some task earlier, use your free time to work in a deep focus.
When you decide on a deep work philosophy that suits your schedule the best, it's time for you to discover helpful practices on how to master your "deep work" skill.
Tips on how to work deep like a pro:
- Set lower expectations at the beginning of your deep work journey. If you've never dealt with the deep work method before, don't expect great results when making the first steps towards it. Adjusting your schedule and lifestyle to deep work principles will take time, so you may spend an hour planning your focused work routine. However, with more practice and experience, you'll master your deep work skill, and, at some point, it will take you less time and bring more outstanding results.
- Plan your deep work routine. If you want to build a solid, focused work routine, then start with spending some time planning it. Choose a location for your work session, outline its duration, structure, and additional features that help you focus. So your plan can look like this: "I will work in an open space for two hours, with my phone turned off, and headphones with nature sound on."
- Have no mercy for distractions. The "only five minutes of Twitter" excuse doesn't work when you enter deep work mode. It means that you should cut off literally everything that distracts you from work. If you've set yourself a two-hour deep work session, you don't check your newsletter, social media, or chats during this time. If your colleagues disturb you, put on the headphones. If your noisy neighbors don't let you work, then go and work from the quiet cafe near your house.
- Set goals and measure your progress. To keep your motivation high, always track your score and set goals when working in a focus mode. Seeing how much you've already accomplished will help you maintain a solid deep work routine even if you're not in a mood or have other plans in mind.
- Don’t turn off deep-work mode even when performing minor duties. You can solve complicated issues and come up with effective solutions, not just while sitting in your office in deep work mode. Your mind has a special skill - to perform cognitive tasks “passively”, when you’re accomplishing minor duties which don’t require your brain. So instead of listening to music or scrolling your feed when commuting or waiting in line, try to get deep into your thoughts. Try to abstract from the noises that surround you and focus on the problems you should solve.
- Schedule breaks. Still, most people are afraid to practice deep work because it can be too tiring or extreme for them. But no one told you to spend hours without taking a breath! If your inner clocks don't allow you to focus for more than 30 minutes in a row, then schedule short breaks in between sessions to wind down. In other words, you can combine deep work with a Pomodoro technique to make work sessions more comfortable for you.
- Stack tasks in a smart way. Let’s imagine you’re deep in your huge project, and your focus is sharp as never. But then you instantly get a small task from your manager or recall an assignment that you postponed for quite some time (like checking your inbox). At that moment, your deep work is totally ruined, leaving you no chance to get the focus back. To avoid this, try stacking your tasks smartly. Leave a few hours at the beginning of your day for small duties (each of them shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes). Then, when you will finish all of them, you can go on with deep work for the rest of your day. You can also try to leave all minor tasks that emerged during your deep work to the time when your focus mode will end. That way, nothing will stand on your way to productive workflow.
- Use self-control apps to block distractions. If you are still not sure you can successfully overpower the temptation to check your Instagram feed, use certain apps to do it for you. They have blocklists, where you can place the app you want to block. Then schedule a timer for blocking, and for a certain period, you won't be able to reach your productivity killers. Among such apps is SelfControl for iOS, Rescue Time for browsers, or Cold Turkey, available both on Windows and iOS.
- The Most Common Workplace Distractions And Tips On How To Tackle Them (2020)
- Deep Work: The Secret To Achieving Peak Productivity (2016)
- Deep Work. Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World (2021)
- Workplace Stress: A Silent Killer Of Employee Health And Productivity (2020)
- Deep Work – Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World By Cal Newport (2019)