As I mentioned yesterday, I’m reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. It’s clear to me that I need to find ways to incorporate stretches of deep work into my schedule–that is, times when I shut out all distractions and focus on difficult tasks.
In the section I read today, Cal puts forward four different deep work strategies:
- The monastic approach
- The bimodal approach
- The rhythmic approach
- The journalistic approach
I don’t want to steal Cal’s ideas, so if you want to learn more about each of them you’ll have to get the book. However, I do want to hone in on just one: the journalistic approach.
The Journalistic Approach
A journalist needs to be ready to shift into deep work at a moment’s notice whenever the opportunity presents itself. That’s the gist of the journalistic approach: be opportunistic and shift into deep work mode when you can.
I think this approach is perfectly suited to my work life and to the tasks that I need to approach from a deep work philosophy.
Let me provide an example.
I have a deep work task on my agenda for tomorrow. I need to draft up a rather tricky email that needs to pass muster on some legal obligations while conveying a friendly tone and also cover some technical details. That’s a tall order and one that calls for some time spent singularly focused on the task at hand.
However, I don’t need a full day, or even half a day. To do the job really well I need 30-60 minutes uninterrupted.
I think a task-based approach to deep work is exactly what I need.
How I Plan to Integrate Deep Work Into My Schedule
I use Google Calendar to schedule meetings, lunch, and any other commitments I have. So what I’ve done for tomorrow is to schedule an hour during which I’ll review the context around the email that I need to write and then sit down and write the email. During this focused time, I’ll snooze all Slack notifications, put my phone into Do No Disturb mode, and close my email.
I think this model can work really really well for my work responsibilities: when I have deep work tasks I can schedule time specifically to address those tasks and during those times I will snooze all types of notifications.
Given the ad hoc nature of the tasks that I deal with that require focused attention, this seems like a great solution.
Additional Deep Work Strategies
There’s still a lot more ground to cover. My overall approach to deep work still needs a few more guardrails and guidelines:
- I need to figure out a strategy to effectively “batch” deep work tasks.
- I need to establish a routine or ritual to switch out of conversational mode and into deep work mode.
- I’m sure there’s more I need to do–I’m only halfway through the book. 🙂
I made up today’s workout. It was a core/leg supersets day. Here’s the workout I made up:
For those who can’t read Jon-cursive, that workout consists of:
- Warmup: 1 set of 12 squats, very slow, long pause at the bottom.
- Superset 1: Alternating one-legged squats (8), followed by alternating side lunges (12), 2 sets.
- Superset 2: Alternating one-legged hip extension (8), followed by Supermans (back extensions), 2 sets.
- Superset 3: Leg lifts (10), followed by Bicycles (12), 2 sets.
In the end, not as challenging as I’d expected, but ok as yesterday’s interval workout was quite challenging, so a recovery day was in order.