Deep Work: The Art of Attaining the flow

Deep work is a term used by Cal Newport in his book “Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world

Deep work is a state of mind characterized by intense focus and concentration.

In this book, Cal Newport tells the tales of accomplished individuals who were/are famous for going into seclusion to produce phenomenal work. For example, Bill Gates is famous for taking 1 week off every year. He calls it the thinking week, dedicated to forming new ideas and strategies. Another famous person was Sigmund Freud, who used to go into prolonged periods of isolation to produce groundbreaking work.

Why deep work?

Good question. I am glad you asked. Let me try to answer.

Today in the 21st-century gadgets of all kinds have been embedded deep in our lives. Social media has made it easy to be hyper-aware of everything that happens around us (don’t even get me started on the privacy concern that these things bring with them, that demands a separate post). People today find themselves living their lives from one screen to another and with so many devices and apps fighting for attention, it is becoming indeed an uphill task to focus and concentrate for longer periods of time. I blame this fragmentation of focus for typos now making regular appearances on the pages of publications throughout the media-sphere.

Leaving typos aside, any work that one desires to be called “high-caliber” has to be of quality and quality work can only come when the mind is focused. Deep work can help you erode seemingly tough problems and produce quality work. Now that you know about the reasons for and benefits of Deep work, the next logical question then becomes;

How to go about getting into Deep Work?

These steps according to Cal Newport are potent ways to enter the state of the flow

Schedule time for productive work

Every day, consciously define chunks of time for performing deep work. Consider the following methods to enter deep work.

  • The Hermit Approach: This strategy mandates sizable chunks of time, weeks, months, years (extreme) off for the mission at hand. Consider this if you are a mad scientist trying to work on a world-changing theory, an author if you are working on a majestic piece of literature or if you are a musician who is trying to write that awesome metal ballad.
  • Bi-modal approach: This approach mandates a couple of days in a week dedicated to deep work
  • Rhythmic Approach: This approach mandates deep work for a few hours every day.

We are all different after all and these approaches as such may not work for you, But I am sure that some combination of these will definitely do the trick.

Inculcate Mental Training

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

― Plutarch

By now we all know that mental focus requires discipline. One exercise you can do is sit down, close your eyes and count your breaths till 100. Every time your mind wanders away, bring it back and focus only the movement of your diaphragm.

If you find this too brings, exercise delayed gratification in your day to day activities, don’t skip ads, avoid flipping your cell phone if you feel bored. Small things add up to help you hone your focusing skills

Social Media Detox

Get off of social media channels. Believe me, you’d have taken this decision for the best. Apart from making us anxious, social media apps are constantly trying to encroach on the plane of focus, after all, that’s their entire business model.

This detox will clear your mind of static, arbitrary information making way for more bandwidth that you can utilize for fruitful work.

Can Do, Should Do, Must Do

Divide your daily tasks in this category. Where can do are things of least importance, Should do of medium importance and Must do of the highest importance?

Start your day with the highest priority, at your from first. Low productivity jobs can be in the second half of the day. The main focus here is to get on the most important work on your list with the highest level possible energy that you can muster.

You will fail

These steps may look daunting and you may invariably fail at them in the beginning and that’s okay. The key here is persistence.

You have habits that were built over time, they won’t break easily. As long as you seek more from yourself and keep at it you’ll make progress.

All the best