Why We Should Be Doing Deep Work

Jann Freed Leading Comments

This post is written for people interested in using their time more effectively.  Time is our most important resource.  Use your time wisely by engaging in deep work.

Since my first career was in higher education, I enjoy reading research articles and books based on research.  As a former management professor and now leadership development and change management consultant, I continue to learn about how to be productive and successful in a world where change has accelerated particularly the changes in technology.

We often talk about time management and how important it is to manage our time.  But we don’t really manage time.  We manage our behaviors within the context of time.  Time is not only our most important resource, but it is the most democratic resource.  It does not matter how much money we have, how educated we are, how tall or short, how many children or pets, or our ethnicity.  We all have 24 hours a day–we just don’t know how many days we have.

So how do we make the most out of the time we have?

We used to think multi-tasking was the way to be more productive–to get more done in the time available.  The trend in the literature now is how multi-tasking is not the skill to practice.  We are more productive when we focus–really focus–on the task at hand.  We should all be doing deep work in this world of numerous distractions.

To learn more about being focused, I read the book Deep Change:  Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, an assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University.  To read an excerpt from the book, click here.  Newport is a good storyteller using examples to emphasize his main point:  Deep work makes you better at what you do–regardless of what you do!  He maintains learning to do deep work can help all of us do better work and to feel better about what we do.

The second part of the book is focused on his four rules:

  1.  Work Deeply:  Challenging to do because of the desires and temptations not to work deeply.
  2. Embrace Boredom:  Take breaks from focus, not distractions.
  3. Quit Social Media:  This can be a real time robber and serve as entertainment.
  4. Drain the Shallows:  Minimize work that drains time and energy.

One of Newport’s main conclusions is that we are living in a “culture of convenience and simplicity instead effectiveness and productivity and this is something we need to change.”

In future posts, I will be sharing more about how to engage in deep work.  Newport has all kinds of tips and advice on how to make the shift so that more of our time is spent doing deep work.  And if you don’t have time to read his book, listen to a great podcast of Newport explaining the main concepts in his book.

How often are you doing deep work?

How do you schedule your day so you can be most productive? 

NOTE:  I hope you can listen to my next podcast in my series Becoming a Sage —Friday, August 11th!