The workday reality for the majority of us is one full of distraction and interruption.
Our schedules are dictated by emails, meetings and the small, urgent tasks that pop up daily.
The opportunity for focused, productive time is unfortunately few and far between.
In my latest episode of the Influence & Impact for Female Leaders podcast, I interviewed Alicia Navarro the founder and CEO of FLOWN. They’re on a mission to help knowledge workers create deep work spaces to get significant work done, be more creative and take joy in the journey.
Deep work is focused, uninterrupted time where you’re working on something challenging, significant or you’re having a learning experience.
Alicia’s shared that deep work based in the idea that:
“When you get opportunities to work in an uninterrupted, focused manner on something significant, not only do you get things done in a in a faster, richer way, you're more creative and come away from it fulfilled and with a real sense of purpose.”
You can create your own mental and physical deep work spaces whether you’re in the office or working remotely.
Here’s the 6 factors you need to do that:
This is the most obvious but perhaps the hardest to implement. Is there an hour or two you can block out each day where you have no meetings, turn off emails and notifications and let your team know you can’t be disturbed?
If doing this every day feels unattainable, try to choose a day each week where you have no meetings and can focus fully on a project.
A chunky project is a significant project that requires more time, creative thinking and problem solving. These are often neglected when we’re trying to fit our work between meetings and keeping up with our inbox.
Choose a chunky project you’d like to dedicated your deep work time to and prioritise it.
Experiment with different blocks of time to find your optimal productivity and focus time. You could try the Pomodoro Technique which is 25 minutes of work with a 5 minute break. I’ve been trying this one whilst writing my book and it really helps me stay focused.
FLOWN facilitate online deep work session for 1-2hrs with 15-minute blocks of productive work followed by a quick activity or group check-in.
Distractions are both external and internal. Here’s 5 ways to minimise them:
Deep work isn’t just about productive work time. To access your creativity, help your brain think in different ways and have those aha moments, you also need play, exploration and learning.
These can be as simple as connecting with your senses, practicing mindfulness, walking, listening to music or trying something novel or a little out of your comfort zone. Having access to diverse people and ideas can also prompt this – talk to someone different, listen to a podcast or watch a short documentary.
In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport talks about the grand gesture of getting away. We often have our most creative ideas and inspiration when we’re on holiday or out in nature. Unfortunately, we can’t always be on holiday but we can make an effort to change our environment or spend time in nature.
You could schedule a walk before a deep work session, go to a café to work or even book a few days at the coast or countryside to work remotely.
Incorporating deep work in your workday isn’t just about productivity.
As Alicia says:
“When you get deep work into your life, it's not just your work that improves, it's your happiness. The second you start doing it, feel a difference. Because you feel like your life matters, you feel that you're in control of it, You feel that your days matter.”
For more articles on the issues that impact women leaders at work follow Carla Miller on LinkedIn
Find out about the various ways Carla works with women leaders and organisations on her website www.carlamillertraining.com