“To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction. To learn, in other words, is an act of deep work.”

Cal Newport

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at Mondelez IWD’s event, where we explored the ‘dark side of remote work’.  It’s a familiar terrain for most of us – constant connectivity, pressure to multitask across various channels, and busyness that doesn’t always translate to outputs.  There is the obvious impact on work-life balance, but what often goes unnoticed is the toll it takes on the quality of our output.  Quality work requires focused attention and intense concentration, things that seem rare when you are ‘on’ 24/7 and always reachable.  

In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport makes a strong case for the transformative power of distraction-free, focused work in a knowledge driven economy dominated by digital distraction.  I know we might feel who needs time for ‘Deep work’ when there is chatGPT? I’ll argue we need time to think even more than ever to effectively leverage AI tools and stand out for good reasons : -).

During our discussion, I shared my top tips for creating a conducive environment for deep work:

  1. Leverage technology to create space: Create designated blocks of uninterrupted time to do ‘heavy lifting’, silence notifications, implement email auto-responses to buy time and safeguard your focus.
  2. Make time for reflection: Set time aside at least weekly to contemplate and digest the information you’ve encountered.   Its during reflection that we connect the dots and gain deeper insights.  Yes, you have read the material, but do you really understand it? Fastest way for opportunities to pass you bye, is when you have your head buried in day-to-day activities without looking up to connect the dots.
  3. Minimize (or at least delay) multi-tasking: I know this is tricky, as a guilty culprit myself. However, research has shown that multi-tasking diminishes productivity and impairs cognitive function.  If you can’t stop it, defer multitasking until after you’ve completed the critical tasks for the day. Personally, I’ve found I get my best work done not based on the time of the day but based on if I’m ‘pre-multitasking’ or ‘post-multitasking’.
  4. Prioritize tasks.  Resist the temptation to respond to tasks without prioritizing what is most important. Create time for the ‘not urgent but important’ – this is often where real value is created, both in our professional and personal lives. Stephen Covey’s framework for prioritization in his book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ could be helpful here.

What tips have you found most useful for enabling Deep Work?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  

Yours in possibilities,

TKO

One Comment

  1. Being able to track where you spend most of your time helps with knowing if there is a need to reorganize, and what to prioritize as important work. Also getting oneself into a routine helps with increasing focus on important work.

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