The benefits of Deep Work are profound and life-changing. They include (but are not limited to) Productivity Increase, Better utilization of Time, Creativity Boost, Professional Satisfaction, and Development of Craftsmanship. At the same time, altering your work style to become a consistent Deep Worker is not easy. Let’s understand why.
Deep Working is a work style.
Just like “Being Fit” is a lifestyle choice, Deep Working is also a work style choice. Maintaining a work style (or a lifestyle) requires following some habits and routines. It does not come naturally. You have to put effort and design your life to achieve that work style.
Focussing on a single task is difficult for long duration.
One of the most important aspects of effective working is the ability to focus on the task at hand with intensity. Unfortunately, we’ve never been taught or coached to do so during our childhood or school years. On top of this, we’ve been exposed to a myriad of stimuli (ex: checking Facebook updates, frequent email checking, etc…) over time that take up our brain share to choose from at any given point.
In order to keep up with the pace of our lives, we often find ourselves getting less sleep and eating more unhealthy foods. This can have a negative impact on our ability to focus and be productive.
Putting distractions at bay is not easy.
There’s this idea that we should be constantly connected and we should always be doing something. This means that we can never really focus on one thing for too long – it’s always time to move on and do something else. We can’t focus on our tasks because we’re too distracted by the constant stream of updates and notifications from the outside world.
One of the most common sources is social media. With so many platforms available, it’s pretty difficult not to check your social media at least once a day or more often than that if you’re on a mobile phone. So, if you want to stay focused, then you need to take proactive steps towards curbing your social media usage. This is particularly hard if we get addicted to the Instant Gratification that results from social media experiences.
The effect of these seemingly harmless distractions is under rated. These micro non-value producing habits quickly compound and program the mind to an operating state where its ability to focus deteriorates over time.
Because people don’t plan ahead.
Generally speaking, Deep Work cannot be winged. A plan gives you the space to give deep focus to your work which starts with setting up an intentional schedule. It can also help you stay on track with what you want to complete in that time. Planning ahead also prepares the subconscious to problem solve in the background and mentally prepares us to execute as well.
People don’t introspect how they worked.
We usually reflect on the outcomes of our work. Has our work produced the desired results? or What are the new efforts we need to put to get the desired results etc… But there is a lot of value in introspecting on how an individual works. How is one’s work style irrespective of the task? Introspection provides opportunity to incorporate feedback fast and improve.
Consistency is hard. People will miss on days.
Building habits is about consistently executing the habit so that it just feels natural. Developing habits requires the individual to be aware of how that habit is progressing and at what stage that person is in with respect to habit formation.
It can be difficult to be consistent because we’re more drawn to outcomes, rather than the process. We want things to happen instantly and jump straight into the outcome. When we prioritise outcomes before the process, we are putting the cart before the horse. If we change the perspective and prioritise the process, then we’ll naturally be motivated to be consistent.
People don’t know how to train themselves. Having a coach helps.
Doing Deep Work consistently is hard. How do you get good at doing a hard thing? Two popular methods to solve hard things are
- Deconstruct the hard thing into a composition of simpler smaller things and accomplish the smaller things piecemeal to accomplish the hard thing.
- Take help and guidance from people who are good at that hard thing.
deepwork.easy is designed to be a coach on developing your Deep Work habits. It automatically analyses your work style, makes you aware of how your time is being spent, and nudges you to course correct to become a Deep Worker.
People don’t know the value of Deep Work. Therefore there is no intent to Deep Work.
Cal Newport’s book on Deep Work provides excellent detail on our current working styles and their impact. He argues extensively that true value can only be created by Deep Working and therefore the ability to Deep Work should be ruthlessly developed. Mega corporations are incentivized to grab our attention at our cost. Newport’s book is akin to the red pill that we need to take for intentionally crafting our lives – both professional and personal.
People don’t truly know the costs of context switching.
This is massive. At the heart of the inability to Deep Work lies our ignorance of the evil side of context switching. Context switching, no doubt makes us versatile, but we use it far more often. And every time we context switch, we pay dearly. Context Switching kills intensity.
Research has shown that it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back into the zone after distractions because switching between tasks uses different parts of your brain. So if you choose to spend 5 minutes looking at your Instagram freed as you are working on your thesis paper, you have to spend a total of 28 minutes on average to come back to the same intensity as you were before to produce similar levels of output.
Therefore, a smart worker would be extremely aware of when context switches are happening in her work style.
Shallow work opportunities abound.
Cal Newport defines Shallow Work as “non-cognitive, logistical or minor duties performed in a state of distraction”. They require very little cognitive effort – things like checking emails, browsing the internet, spending time on social media, or sitting passively in meetings. If you are not aware and intentional of how your time is getting spent, there is a good chance that shallow activities will fill up your schedule inadvertently.
Deep Working and Time management are closely connected.
Time management is a pandemic. People realize that they have time management issues, but struggle to fix the root causes of their time management issues. In an interesting way, they could find their answer in Deep Working. Doing Deep Work was not originally prescribed to solve time management issues, but in my experience, I’ve seen Deep Workers automatically get good at managing their time. This is because Deep Workers develop an awareness of their time gradually to a point where it becomes clear to them what is hurting or aiding their Deep Work ability. This further enhances their ability to do Deep Work and be very intentional about how their time is getting spent. As a result, they accidentally become good time managers.
And the converse is also generally true. Good time managers tend to quickly adopt Deep Work habits. They naturally analyze how their time is getting spent and optimize for delivering quality Deep Work hours. You either end up in the virtuous circle of producing high-quality output via Deep Working and being very efficient in how you are spending your time or you end up struggling to produce high-quality work and spendthrift away your time.
deepwork.easy takes the guesswork of how to become a Deep Worker and produce high-quality work. It guides you on planning your sessions, analyzes your habits, and ultimately develops the superpower to Deep Work to produce your life’s work.