Actually using a Calendar is a good start, but not a very effective one. Here are some observations from my experience doing Deep Work
The purpose of Calendar is not to optimize Deep Working
The calendar’s primary purpose was to facilitate meetings by blocking one’s time. In a team setting, it is fairly common for everyone to see each other’s calendars and book their time. It is naturally assumed that the time left open is meant to be utilized for individual activity irrespective of how it’s allocated during the day. Blocking time for Deep Work activities is a good practice that is gaining popularity but its effectiveness is limited as it does not go beyond just time blocking to help the individual become a good Deep Worker.
The calendar does not give you Feedback on your working style
Planning to do Deep Work is one thing, and developing a work style that optimizes Deep Work is another. This is because you will need to frequently observe what is working and not as you are picking up Deep Work skills. For example, I’ve noticed the lead time to plan deep work sessions has a significant impact on the overall time you are Deep Working. The days where I start with a blank slate on what to Deep Work on requires me to decide what I should be deep working on. Instead, if I had planned for my Deep Work blocks the day before, I’m off to the races the first thing the next day. The calendar will fail to bring up this trait of your working style as it is a general-purpose scheduling tool.
Doing Deep Work is not that hard. Acquiring Deep Work Habits is.
Deep Workers are fundamentally after a work style that is challenging, engrossing, meaningful, and ultimately fun. They see it as a superpower that helps them become way more effective in their work. And they know the way they can make that shift is by developing the habits that are conducive to Deep Working. One habit I’ve picked up when I plan for a deep work session is to come up with a Quick Plan. The idea of the Quick Plan is to force myself to complete the task in 5 minutes – albeit theoretical. It forces me to list down all the things I would have to accomplish to complete my goal. The Quick Plan serves as version 1 of my output and when I actually Deep Work, I just have to execute and improvise on my version 1 so that I’ve had two iterations on the task at hand resulting in much high-quality output. Deep Workers pick up such multiple atomic habits that enable the individual to have great deep work sessions. A calendar has very limited abilities to make the user aware of the deep work habits and therefore has limited success in making the user an effective deep worker.
Deep Workers need a better interface to execute their work.
Since the primary purpose of the calendar is to schedule work, the user interfaces are optimized for scheduling meetings primarily. As a deep worker, at best you can create time blocks on your schedule and give it some detail. A better deep work optimized interface would cater to the use cases of a deep worker. For example, it is very common to veer away from the task at hand by thinking of some non-urgent todos. This happens because the (non-deep work optimized) brain prefers thinking of another task just to take a break from the current task that requires full focus. A better interface would allow for the user to quickly jot down that to-do thought and put a closure to it so that an expensive context switch could be avoided. deepwork.easy has been designed specifically to optimize Deep Work habits and aids the user in completing her deep work session as planned.