Ting! There goes your Messenger again informing you that somebody from your Friends’ list has just sent you a message. Out of curiosity, and most of the time, you simply have to ‘Read’ it. So even though you’re beating a deadline, you were still distracted by Messenger!
Did you just find yourself nodding because the situation sounds familiar? Don’t feel bad – you are not alone facing this same situation every day. Many people constantly struggle with an inability to complete tasks or produce high-quality work because they often get distracted and were unable to focus all their energy at work.
Say Hello to ‘Deep Work’
Now that this problem has been identified, it’s time to work on the solutions. One proven technique is ‘deep work’. As Cal Newport pointed out: “Deep work is when you focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” This means that you would work on a task as hard as your brain can for an extended period of time without any form of distraction. As you do tasks in ‘deep work’ mode, you will be producing quality outputs and certainly better results compared to working while entertaining friends on any social media account of yours.
In fact, Newport adds that “most people don’t go five or ten minutes without glancing at their phone or inbox.” This does not only affect professionals at the office but even students working on their assignments or when they’re preparing for their exams. No wonder many of them don’t understand their lessons!
How to Apply ‘Deep Work’
Below are some practical tips that you can easily follow for you to start doing ‘deep work’ and to begin looking forward to better results:
- Shun social media, even for just an hour. (More hours would be great!)
Don’t immediately say “I can’t” – because you can! Allocate an hour to work without any distractions. As you sit at your desk and start working on your task, don’t give in to the urge of checking your smartphone. Better yet, just turn off your notifications. That way, you will be able to block off temptations. Once you’re done, you will find out that a no-distraction hour results in quality work, one which you could do for several hours.
- Stick to a strict working schedule.
Let go of the mindset that you can still do your task at home or in the wee hours of the morning because this is certainly unhealthy. This will give you false assurances that you have lots of time available to do a task, so impose limitations on your work schedule. One example is to make sure that you don’t work beyond a certain time (e.g. 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm). This means that you would have to finish all tasks before this time. Knowing that you work on a limited schedule will get you less time to spend on distractions.
- Classify ‘shallow’ from ‘deep work’.
Shallow work refers to those tasks that demand less brain work such as checking e-mails, responding to requests, uploading files or filling in spreadsheets. Set a certain period doing these and focus on those highly demanding ‘deep work’ tasks that require you to think deep!
Once you have applied ‘deep work’ to your daily schedule, you will find out how productive you have become. Yes, the habit of constantly checking updates or responding to messages on Messenger (hopefully worthwhile messages at that) may be hard to let go of, but in the long run, you will find more fulfillment and reach certain successes in what you do. Start ‘deep work’ today and see how it can make a difference in your work and in your daily life.