17 Feb Getting into the Deep Work Zone
Assessing your Working Habits
Imagine you have an important task to get done. It might be writing a blog post, plotting out a strategy plan, or thinking of creative ideas for a project.
As you think about that project, try answering these following questions:
- When do you typically tackle your project? In the morning? After lunch? In the evening? Not at all?
- As you are working on the project, how often do you check your emails or social media accounts while you are getting the task done?
- When you are working on that task, what does your environment or space look like? Are you listening to your favourite playlist or an episode from a podcast?
What came up for you as you answered those questions?
For many of us, who have amazing ideas or projects, finding the time to work on these ideas can feel quite challenging. And if even when we do find the time, social media, app notifications or a casual email, might distract us from accomplishing those ideas.
How do we conquer these challenges? Well, this is where the principles of Deep Work come into play.
What is Deep Work?
Cal Newport, a computer scientist, professor and author of Deep Work defines it as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy.”
There are three key principles of deep work:
The key with defining your space is that the brain needs to KNOW that your space is a working space. When it enters that space, it knows that it is time for work.
Here are some questions you should be thinking about your space:
- Is it clean?
- Is it purposeful?
- Is it energizing?
In order to be more productive, good time management skills are essential. Here are some time management tips.
- Create rituals that work for you
- What is your period of highest mental and physical energy? Morning? Afternoon? Evening?
- What can you do to sustain that time period of energy?
- Eat the FROG
- When you’re organizing your day, do the thing you are most dreading, first. If you complete the most unwanted task you can think of for that day, it gives you great energy because you get the feeling you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.
- Take breaks
- For any specific task decide exactly how long you are going to work on it. For example if you work on a task for 30 minutes, then try to set up a 5-7 minute break to re-energize, and then go back to it or start on something else.
Many of us are aware that our attention spans are dwindling. When working on projects of value, we need to train our minds to focus. The biggest thing we can do is put our smart phones away. In our deep work sessions, we usually tell people to put their phones under their desks, in a different room or under a couch. Another element for this theme is to surround yourself with noise that keeps you focused. We love using white noise, which contains all frequencies at equal intensity and can mask loud sounds that break one focus.
Want to integrate Deep Work into your lives?
As Black Women, the intersectionality of our identities can sometimes present barriers to deep work. Some of these barriers may include navigating multiple responsibilities such as taking care of family members (children or aging parents or extended family members), balancing multiple jobs for one’s livelihood or just being mentally exhausted from playing work politics such as code switching during our work days.
However, we do understand the transformational power of cultivating a deep work ethic. We have seen it each month as Black Women gather in a virtual safe space to get their own work done.
Understanding the value of deep work, in summer 2020, we launched Build Out Loud, a space dedicated for Black Women to integrate deep work into their schedules. Co-Work and Chill is our flagship, monthly event, where Black women get time and space to get into deep work. They bring whatever they want to work on – their side hustle, a personal project, or even something from their 9-5. For 45 minutes, they work on their stuff. We provide the safe environment (Virtual Zoom room) with teachings, white noise and dope Black women to connect with!website or follow us on social media (Instagram or Twitter) for more information on our upcoming events.
We hope the above will help you be more productive!
Meron Berhe and Stacey-Ann Morris, Build Out Loud Co-Founders