Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, had a big impact on me. (I recently wrote a post about the Top Thoughts I got from the book and I’d suggest you read that first as I’ll be using terms from the book in this post.)
I have been aware of what social media and other push notification technologies have been doing to my ability to focus. Sometimes I can’t even concentrate on a book for more than a page before checking my smartphone’s notifications!
I’m a writer who wants to write two novels per year and indie publish them, so my inability to focus has been a major hindrance to achieving this goal. But I’ve long thought that writers who were able to produce at a crazy rate were just naturally talented and I’d just have to settle with what God has given me. But Cal argues that this is a skill that can be developed, and no one, not even the most adept deep workers were exempt.
Hmm, the possibility of becoming one of those uber-productive writers is enticing indeed. So I’ll be doing a little experiment. Below is a rough analysis/plan on how I plan to allow more deep work into my life. I’ll be doing this routine for a month and at the end of it I’ll report whether it has been effective or not.
How I want to use the hours in my life
- Learn new skills
- Write to add to my body of work
- Nourish my relationships with friends and family
My routine style
Mostly Journalistic, which means each week I’d evaluate my schedule and roster in Deep Work hours. I’m also Bimodal; I have writing retreats monthly away from home.
My “quality alternatives” to replace shallow Internet distractions
Read books, exercise, social time with friends, meditate, journallingand, controversial to some, watch movies and television. TV watching is not a passive activity for me because, as an author, I learn a lot from storytelling.
What I will do to “drain the shallows”
The nature of my work leaves me really susceptible to distractions. We have waiting periods between work, so sometimes it could be an hour or two before I’m handed something to do. I will fill the waiting periods with “quality alternatives” which I highlighted above. (Well, except for watching television lol.) I will also consider the time I spend working on my tasks deep work; I will work in time blocks, 100% focused on the job, not talking to anyone or checking the Internet at all during this time. I will leave my phone in Airplane mode to prevent being distracted by notifications.
My shut down ritual
At the end of of my workday I will open my bullet journal and:
- Migrate tasks that I couldn’t finish to the next day
- Skim all task lists, appointment calendar to ensure I didn’t miss anything
- Make rough plan for tomorrow
- Write thoughts about the day, things I’m grateful for and say a short prayer of thanks and blessings for the next day.
My rough daily routine
10am: Learning hour. I will take notes as I read a self-help book, watch a webinar or listen to a podcast.
11am-12.30pm: Deep Work hours where I’ll write or edit something
12.30pm: Exercise by going out for a walk, and have lunch.
10.30pm: Shut down ritual
Seems like a doable plan. We’ll see! In a month’s time I’ll report on my progress and see if my productivity has improved at all. Stay tuned.
*Yes, I have very unique working hours. It took some getting used to, but now I love it.