Leadership Series – Deep Work
Kristen Carroll, Organisational and Learning & Development Consultant
In a world that seems to uphold “multitasking” as a virtue, it can feel uncomfortable or downright rebellious to work counter to this. However, bouncing between your phone, inbox, instant messaging, and meetings is not the way to get ahead! Explore the concept of Deep Work as a means of tapping into your full potential.
What is Deep Work?
Cal Newport, an author and computer science professor at Georgetown University, defined Deep Work as: “Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” He explained that if you are not intentional about how you spend your time, you risk wasting hours of your day to what he describes as “shallow work”: “Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”
Build a Deep Work Routine
- Location: choose a space that is free from distractions and is conducive to remaining focused for long periods.
- Duration: Before commencing deep work, determine how long you intend to spend. Start modestly with your time and build as your ability to focus improves.
- Structure: Be explicit about the things that define what deep work mode looks like for you e.g. Will the room door be shut? Will your phone be switched off or silent? Will you avoid looking at online alerts? Just remember to stick to whatever rules you set for yourself!
- Requirements: The more you practice deep work, the more you will begin to hone what are the key ingredients you require to support you to remain focused. Perhaps you will discover there is a particular time of day that works best for you, or maybe there is specific music you are motivated by. These requirements will help signal to your brain that you are doing deep work and help anchor you in the moment.
Your time commitment to deep work does not have to be huge the first time; the key is to start small and build over time.
Kristen Carroll is an Organisational & Learning & Development Consultant with 15 years' experience designing, developing and implementing a broad range of leadership development, talent management and learning and development programs across government, non-government and corporate sectors.
Kristen has tertiary qualifications in Psychology, Training Design and Development and Training and Assessment.
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