Deep Work

“What should I do next to get better at X?”

Practice… right?

When I was in college, I followed a blog by Cal Newport called “Study Hacks”. If you haven’t heard of it yet, I highly encourage you to check it out. It changed a lot of my perspectives and some of the lessons I learned I still practice today. Check it out here.

As I was thinking about the question above, I thought of a topic discussed on Study Hacks called Deep Work.

Deep work, according to Cal, is the type of work that causes our abilities to continually improve. It is a source of deeper satisfaction; that is, a feeling of passion towards whatever it is we’re pursuing. In contrast, so called shallow work are the types of tasks that require minimal amount of effort. These are the tasks that through repetition and training we’re able to do with our eyes closed.

Figuratively, of course.

The answer to the question I posed to myself requires some amount of deep work. With that said, here’s how I go about preparing myself for some deep work:

  1. Quiet time

    The simple act of turning off all my devices and “unplugging” myself unleashes tons of creative juices. Distractions from tweets, likes, +1s, e-mails, etc. make it hard to get into any sort of rhythm. Once unplugged, I find that I don’t really need to think of anything at all – ideas just start flowing.

    Ironically, some of my most creative moments are in the plane when I’m bored out of my mind. Who said boredom was a bad thing??

  2. Plan for tomorrow

    I have trouble maintaining a very rigid routine/schedule. However, it’s incredibly easy to plan for the next day. I find that if I just jot down a few reasonable and achievable tasks for myself to do the next day, my mind has time to prepare for what’s ahead. Surprisingly, this motivates me to wake up early the following day too.

  3. Be in the now.

    The most important part about execution of deep work is to be in the moment. You just need to pay attention to what you’re doing. To “pay attention” is such a great sentiment in this context as it reminds us that attention costs something… energy.

How do you prepare yourself for deep work?