A (very) short guide for every office human
”Ah!, deep work. Easy. You just need to remove all distractions and you are all set”. Truth is, in theory everything can sound simple. Who knows, you might even win the lottery today, by that standard. Sadly though, in real life, these sort of advices rarely work, and for good reason: in the end, it's mostly about cultivating good, strong, steady habits, for a sudden paradigm shift ”all in style” may get you busted. Obviously though, you need to start somewhere, or else why would have Shia LeBoeuf yelled at you (with such passion!) to ”DO IT!”. So, if yesterday was the 100th day you said ”tomorrow”, these ”tips” might come in handy:
Everyone might not be the unique sunflower some are preaching, yet we are different. And that is great. Embrace is! That being said, when it comes to ”deep work”, there is more than one ”style”. There's the monastic one, when ALL distractions are removed. No internet (if not needed), no phone, no TV, no nothing. Just you, your laptop, your goals and your dreams (that you've been letting for too long to just be dreams...). There's the rythmic one, when you are basically scheduling a few hours a day for ”deep diving”, working ”normal” the rest of the time. Then there's the dual-mode, in which you delve into deep-deep work for projects at a time, however much time they need, be it days or even weeks, before going for more liberal stretches.
There's no wrong answer here, it's important that you understand that. Maybe try them all out, if you feel unsure. Trusting your instincts and being honest with yourself, you will find the most suitable style for you. Depending on the work you are doing as well, of course. Some say the rythmic version is the most common for beginers, but in the end, it's all up to you. And yeah, a spotify playlist is allowed, even though you so choose to go monastic!
We're not really used to planning work ahead, that's true, and in these times this seems like even more of a strech. However, our brain, as majestic as it is, is pretty easy to trick sometimes, especially when it comes to rewards, no matter how small. So think in these little treats, accomplishment by accomplishment and then and only then set your plan straight. What will you be working on? How much time will it take, theoretically. How much time can you save, daily, if you go full-deep on your work. What would be your process? Will you set a fixed schedule for the whole day? For half a day, maybe? For specific hours? Will you ”prepare” your work- playlist in advance? Will you work on your regular desk? Will you choose a different spot, designed for deep-work only? Will you cook your meals in advance? Will you order in? Will you keep track via a special folder? Will you go ”classic”, by pen and paper? Or maybe you will enlist the help of an app/website, like Monday.com, Trello.com or TimeFlip? These are some of the questions you should answer before starting and these are also some of the routines you might decide to keep. Long term.
Set them goals:
Goals work for anybody. From late-starters to over-achievers. No need to compare yourself with anyone, this is a race designed for you alone. And the great news is that you'll be the referee as well. So you won't be able to cheat anyone. Well..technically, one person, but that's it. Joking aside, your brain loves a goal for every brain loves a challenge. Make it a realistic one though, then slowly up the ante. Project by project.
From questions to planning, from planning to rituals:
We talked about answering a few key questions. Once you have them figured out, with at least a goal set in place as well, work on that habit and slowly start to see how rituals are developed. Don't be scared of time, procrastination wasn't born in a day either. It took practice, by the lack of it. And dedication. By the lack of it as well. Wire yourself for new rituals by just doing these little new things. Don't overthink them. A couple of hours a day at first, maybe. Then slowly but steadily crank it up a notch. In a couple of weeks, ”muscle memory” might start to kick in. You might find yourself with tens of notification and no burning desire to check them. For days. From there on, you'll know you're on the right track. And you'll make not only yourself proud, but Shia as well. We think.
Periodically check on your progress:
You've made changes, you've made additional adjustments. You are on the path of progress. You feel more productive. Are you actually? Well, check! Compare your new routines to previous ones and see if the work you're been doing is better and if you are being more productive. Start by daily assessments then slowly decrease your check-up points. Every other day, twice a week, then once a week. If there are still problems, be honest. Make neccessary adjustments by your standards and don't forget that work and comfort should never exclude one another.
Remember work ain't everything:
Professional life is important. Extremely important at times. We know that. That's why we wrote this piece. You know that as well. That's why you're reading it. A productive lifestyle gives us stability, in every shape and form. Stability. Remember this word. It's ok to delve deep into deep work but remember to always swim back to shore. Work ain't everything. Matter of fact, the most important purpose of deep work is to boost your productivity so that you'll be able to enjoy more free time, in the long run. That being said, an important part of deep work is resting, afterwards. Get comfy and go for quality rest over mindless web scrolling. Maybe try reading half an hour in the afternoon. Maybe find a hobby that truly relaxes you. Enjoy your free time. Make it count. Live it. In the here and now. Don't forget about friends and family for long period of times as well and remember that happy moments make for a more happy office human. Now go. DO IT!