Deep work is one of the most valuable skills you can develop as a professional or entrepreneur who lives and works in the 21st century. It has helped me get in the right state of mind to execute all the ideas and projects I might've thought about, but could never actually make happen.
If you feel like you lack the time and focus, deep work can help you shine in whatever you decide to do.
So what is deep work exactly?
The idea is simple: If you want to be a rockstar, you have to perform at a higher level than most. This means you need to learn to do harder things that fewer people have the skill to achieve. Those things are often what you would call deep work.
Deep work is what you consider your most valuable and meaningful work. It often requires the most effort and attention, but it should also be the work that gets you closer to your goals. In my case, deep work involves writing and editing. Deep work requires major concentration to accomplish all of your tasks.
Deep work helps you redefine the way you work. It forces you to arrange your time to make sure you deliver on these highly important tasks, instead of juggling too many things.
How do you do deep work?
First, you have to separate your mundane work from your important work.
Your mundane work is all of the things that need to get done, but don't require you to bring your A-game to the table. There are the things you can almost do on autopilot. This includes emails, administrative tasks, and most meetings.
Your important work is everything that requires dedication, concentration and effort, but also actually builds towards the career you want to have.
After you've separated these two worlds, you need to schedule time for each. Perhaps more importantly, respect this separation and the time assigned to each. Don't switch back and forth. In my case, if I allow myself to answer emails or go through my invoices while I'm scheduled for deep work (brainstorming or writing for example), then I never get into "the zone" for that deep work.
Here's how to get you set up for success with deep work.
Time blocking is a very useful method for accomplishing deep work. With this scheduling technique, you place certain work projects at certain times of day, depending on the type of work or energy levels. This is perfect for compartmentalizing things you need to keep separated and confined to their times.
Here are five steps to help you incorporate time blocking and get your most important work done more easily:
1. Define what you need to get done, and get down to specifics.
Break down big tasks into smaller tasks, so you can assign each the needed time within your schedule.
2. Plan in advance, and ideally plan your whole week. Don't over-plan.
Leave yourself some breathing space when you get started. Also, avoid long blocks of times that could be intimidating and inhibit you from getting started.
3. Eliminate distractions, but take breaks.
The key to respecting the rules is to make sure you can follow them. Keep your phone and other modern distractions out of reach and sight while you do deep work. But, feel free to use them during your designated breaks (these are necessary, not optional).
4. Make it a habit.
You have probably heard that our capacity to make decisions diminishes as we make small decision throughout the day. This is a key reason why making deep work a habit is so important. See what works for you and follow through without giving it a second thought.
5. Respect your down time.
Your brain needs a break to recharge. It may look like you're just sitting by idly, but this isn't a waste of time. You should embrace it--and encourage it in the workplace.
A final thought: Consider meditation.
While these are not absolutely necessary, they would certainly aid your concentration when approaching deep work: