Creating headroom for deep work

As I sit here, I realise that my mind wants to relax. More work is the last thing I need after 9-10 hours at it. But deeper work must be done.

Every day at my day job is a combination of:

  • talking with 50-60 people for minutes about deals, projects etc
  • informing strategy by reading/hearing intelligence on our space
  • putting out fires – new tasks, decisions, information every few minutes

Very little time to do any deep concentration work. Work where I’m focused for more than 15 minutes without minimal to no interruptions of any kind.

And then I wonder why, when it comes to doing deep work at night, like writing a simple primer on workflow optimisation, I just stare at the screen. All that daytime activity has its purpose for my role. But it takes my finite mental energy for processing words.

I need to carve out time for proper, deep work.

Deep work is important – it’s the strategy to my barrage of tactics. Obviously at the end of the day isn’t the working out for me. So how could I make it easier? Let me investigate some action points:

  1. Wake up 30 minutes earlier Waking up earlier doesn’t help me sleep early, it just makes me tired during the day! Plus I need my 8 hours.
  2. Meditate right after getting home Yup, right after dinner, watering the plants, catching up with people at home, snack… and oh, is it 9pm already?!
  3. Carve out solid daytime for deep work What happens when you hope someone doesn’t knock on your office door? They knock on your office door.
  4. Make in-roads for deep work earlier in the day

I didn’t cross out the last point. It might work for my situation. If I can carve out 10 minutes of downtime every 3-4 hours to contribute to my deep work.

So what would I have to do to make that oh-so-tiny-period effective?

  • Outline exactly what I need to accomplish in those 10 minutes. e.g. find and write 3-4 pieces of evidence to support the “Risk management” section of the primer
  • Set a timer and commit to no interruptions. Phone face down on the desk, landline off the hook, the door closed, people advised not to interrupt

It could work. I’ll hopefully be back to building on this site’s content at a good pace very soon. This is the kind of deep work that keeps me motivated for another day of attention-arresting day in the office.