5 Things That Will Happen When You Adopt Deep Work
How You Can Implement This Powerful Practice to Achieve What Matters
There are many things you will gain and that will happen when you adopt deep work as a productivity practice.
Since it is much easier to get distracted now, your ability to work effectively will allow you to focus better and achieve what matters.
What is Deep Work?
Cal Newport, an author and professor at Georgetown University popularized the term “deep work.”
In his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, he describes deep work as, “professional 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.”
This means working on activities that are your highest-value work or your most important priorities in life. When you do, you will improve your ability to focus, which means you will produce results that will move your life forward.
The opposite of deep work is what Newport refers to as “shallow work,” which are tasks that keep you busy and can be performed even if you are distracted. These are not important tasks, which means they produce little value in the world.
A way to distinguish between the two is, shallow work is when you are doing busy work, while deep work is when you are doing your life’s work.
The Need for Deep Work
When you implement deep work, the benefits include:
- Increased ability to concentrate and focus.
- Improved problem-solving ability.
- Produce higher-quality work.
- Better ability to block out distractions.
- Greater clarity of thought.
- Better decision-making ability.
Your ability to work on what matters most will determine what you produce and what you achieve in life.
How I Use Deep Work
It starts with planning my calendar every week. I block out four hours every morning to do my highest-value work. My highest-value work is linked to projects I want to complete or goals I want to achieve.
Before working on my highest priorities, I will turn on music that enhances my ability to focus and turn on “Do Not Disturb” on my computer. I will also close applications I do not need and work on one thing at a time.
During the four-hour block, I usually complete three main tasks, called My Big 3. That leaves the afternoon to attend to lower-value activities that do not require a high level of focus.
I have found it is unrealistic to expect myself to have a high level of focus for a whole day. That is mentally exhausting and the quality of work I produce is not at the level I expect.
5 Things That Will Happen When You Adopt Deep Work
Here are five things you can expect to happen when you adopt deep work consistently.
- You will focus on what’s important. When you focus on what’s important, you will eliminate work that isn’t. Focusing on what’s important means you will progress faster and achieve what you want quicker.
- You will become better at planning and scheduling. To do deep work means you have to plan for it. It will not happen unless you are intentional about it. Planning your calendar and scheduling activities that are important will become a weekly or daily practice.
- You will learn to control your urges or temptations. With different social media apps and instant notifications now, everyone is conditioned to get quick endorphin hits. The more you practice deep work, the better you will control your urges to have these quick hits.
- You will develop better work habits or rituals. With improved planning and scheduling, you will develop empowering habits that will improve the quality of your work. Creating a routine at the start and end of each day will ensure you consistently have productive days.
- You will avoid burnout or mental fatigue. When you are distracted or doing shallow work, you are not as effective as you can be. This means you will need more time to complete tasks. The longer you work, the higher the probability of feeling mentally tired, which can lead to burnout if it is not managed well.
Things You Can Do to Get into a Deep Work State
Keeping things simple will make it easier to follow through and continue doing them. Here are a few things you can do to get into a state of deep work.
- Put your phone on silent or airplane mode.
- Turn off notifications on your computer and devices.
- Have a clear outcome for every task or activity you do.
- Avoid task switching or multitasking.
- Block out noise by turning on music, if that works for you.
- Do similar tasks together, in one block.
Deep work is about doing what matters most. It is not always easy because distractions are a part of life, therefore you will experience discomfort initially when you implement it. If you make deep work a focus, you will experience a shift in how you work and how much you produce.
If you continue to be distracted or do busy work rather than important work, you risk having your days “get away from you.” This means you will not achieve what matters to you or make the impact you want.
Action Step: Review your weekly calendar and schedule blocks of activities that will cause you to focus longer. Also schedule similar activities together. Practice using deep work and adjust your work schedule as needed.
Question: What are more things that will happen when you adopt deep work?