Using Deep Work to become a 10x developer
There is a common notion that there are no shortcuts to success, however, there are things that can significantly boost your career development. Optimizing your habits is the staple of long term impact on your career. One of those habits is time allocation and even more so the effectiveness of your work.
Focusing on impactful work is truly a challenge in a modern-day work environment considering everyday office distractions such as meeting, calls, and emails. Finding time to focus on writing and perfecting your code is a challenge in itself and takes away from your overall output on the products you are meant to deliver with pristine quality.
That is where Deep Work comes in, a concept coined by Cal Newport in his book titled “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”. From the author himself, Deep work is simply described as:
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.
– Cal Newport
The author’s career itself is a testament to the effectiveness of the concept. In 10 years he managed to finish his doctoral studies at MIT, write 4 books and numerous scientific papers while working at Georgetown University.
Deep Work vs Shallow Work
To understand Deep Work we must understand what lies on the other side of the spectrum, the so-called Shallow Work. The type of work that doesn’t require uninterrupted concentration and is not necessarily bad but chips away at your performance. By prioritizing and taking a deep look into modifying our everyday habits we can reduce Shallow work to an absolute required minimum.
Making better use of our time is crucial and implementing allocated timeslots in which our focus is at a maximum is how we start boosting our effectiveness. There are a couple of essential steps that help us achieve periods of Deep Work:
Allocate an appropriate timeslot
- Take a short break before you start to clear your mind
- Pick a task that you expect to finish in the given timeslot
- Don’t switch tasks
- Start small and work your way up
- A popular timeslot duration is 25 minutes taken from the Pomodoro technique
- Use a timer until you get used to your regular timeslots
- Do not check your emails
- Do not check your social media
- Move your phone away or put it in airplane mode
- Put any of your tools like Slack into “do not disturb” mode
- Make sure this time is cleared in your schedule, no meetings, no questions, and definitely no small talk
- Put on your headphones
- After planing a simple timeslot try to plan an entire day then move up to a week
- Stop trying to look busy, practice making a clear distinction between impactful work and doing menial tasks that fill holes in your schedule
- Maintain a healthy lifework balance, exercise and sleep regularly
All these steps require practice and dedication so starting small is essential to not put a lot of pressure on yourself. Consistency is key and soon enough you will develop a habit of entering your zone or flow state in a matter of minutes and that is when the magic happens. You will have breakthroughs and deliver your best work in a calm and restful kind of focus. Deep Work will teach you how to prioritize your work and that is the key trait that separates juniors from experts, your effectiveness and thus the impact your work has.