I hope you took advantage of the latest few sunny days. I certainly did. Got to the tea house and did some quality writing 🙃 It was about dam time.
With all the corona thing going on, I kept hearing from my friends and colleges two different stories. Some are really enjoying working from home while others hate it. I fall into the first camp.
Sure, I miss socialising. Apparently, even us introverts care about that. But to achieve focused work I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.
I noticed during my uni days that to be productive, I needed quite-time. So I made sure that I had a quiet place where no one would interrupt me so I could work and study.
In the environment, I managed to create over the years I can stay focused for hours. Up to 4h max then I get hungry and thirsty. Plus it doesn’t hurt to move my ass every now and then.
To be able to transition into such a deep state of focus takes time to master. All distractions like phone calls, emails, phone notifications, colleges, pets, kids, neighbours mowing the lawn, … don’t really help with focus.
So what can we do? Eliminate. Yes, everything.
If you ask my colleges and friends, I’m bloody impossible to reach. If you call me there’s a 99% chance that I won’t pick up. So if I pick up, you don’t have to ask if I have time. I wouldn’t pick up if I didn’t.
Above is sort of an asshole move right? My unavailability definitely pisses some people off. But the majority of folks that I work with usually gets used to it. I think.
Sure it’s a selfish approach, but that’s the only way I get uninterrupted time. The fact is that almost everything can wait. And almost everything should.
Sure there are rare occasions when you have to put a fire out at work. But unless you’re a firefighter that SUPER URGENT email can probably wait for an hour or two.
So if I don’t have my email/phone always turned on, what do I do? Every hour or two, I would check the email, clean the vital stuff if any and get back to work.
There’s a significant advantage to this approach. A lot of stuff people bug you with will get resolved if you wait for a few hours.
When I was leading teams in scouting people would frantically call me all the time. I had lectures, had to study, sleep so I couldn’t pick up. Pretty soon what happened was that when I called back, they said:
You know I already solved the issue.
Important side note. We had an unwritten rule. I can do phone calls during my lecture breaks in the first 15min of every full hour. Then I’m out of the pocket for 45min. It worked like clockwork.
So ask your self:
Are you always available to everyone?
If yes. Rethink that. If you don’t answer right away, people will write to you when it’s absolutely necessary.
If you start respecting your time, others will start doing the same.
Hopefully, I convinced you that trying to achieve deep work == deep focus == flow might be worth your time. If you’re already a proficient practitioner, let me know what’s your secret. If not, you’ve got some homework to do.
So what technically is deep work? We’ll to me it’s the phase of mind when I’m super focused on the task at hand, and I don’t regularly check what’s the time and when I can finish. In fact, when I do deep work hours pass by without me, even noticing.
I could go on and on about details of Deep work, but if you really want to give it, a shot read: Cal Newport’s - Deep work (2016). I’ll just say Cal has it sort of figured out.
Well it takes time and practice. You have to brutally purge distractions. Then you might achieve deep focus now and then.
My modus operandi is nicely summed up by this meme:
When I try to do deep work, I go off-grid. My phone to silent mode, email closed, noise-cancelling headphones on with classical music playing (Vivaldi - 4 Seasons for coding sessions 🤓 ). That’s it.
My routine most probably won’t work for you. Find what routine and environment allows you to achieve deep focus. Then the rest will be history.
My first week of mass experimentation is behind me, and it feels really great.
I woke up this morning at 6:00 on my own, and I was rested. I know. I can’t believe it too, but I’m starting to like my new evening routine because I manage to get to sleep around eleven and not at 2 in the morning.
Also waking up at 10 o’clock in the morning still feels wired to me. We’ll see if I manage to keep it up.
So what was the secret change? No PC after 20:00 and an hour evening walk. The rule that I’m braking as I’m finishing this newsletter. 😱
Let me know what your experiment will be this week.
If you find a typo, have a comment or have an idea for improvement shoot me a message. 😉
Till the next weekly experiment.
P.s. If you like the newsletter, share it. 😉