Deep Work: How to Get There, and What Tools to Use

what is deep work

Have you ever been working, or writing a school paper in your flow so well you zone out? Time flies by, you are kicking butt, and before you know it you have finished everything you needed to and more. This is what deep work is, and it is my favorite feeling in the world. 

All throughout college, I was juggling various responsibilities while holding my full-time student status. My morning was for working at a coffee shop, mid-morning for school, early to late afternoons for my internship, homework in the evenings along with every so often club meetings. Whatever time I had to do homework, which was only a couple hours a week, I would use it to its full potential. 

Our school library had a basement so far underground you would lose cell services – of course, this became my go-to study spot. I would steal a table in the far back, bring a freshly brewed coffee with me, put my airpods in an get everything I needed to get done for the week in a matter of no time.

Even though I now have a little more free time since I am only juggling one fulltime job, I am still gambling to get every project done come Friday, with only a couple hours over 40 – mainly for my sanity’s sake. I need to be able to go into work, focus on what needs to get done and do it to the best of my ability with a little extra room for any other tasks I may want to pick up along the way. 

How to get your mindset into deep work

As I said, I kind of took this on throughout my schooling experience without realizing what I was doing. I thought this type of work was normal to be honest. 

Starting out, I used time batching. This is when you batch projects together to keep your mind in the flow of that same activity. Say you work as a blogger – time batch a whole day dedicated to writing X amount of blog posts, then the next day schedule a large chunk of uninterrupted time for editing, the next for creating graphics, and so on. For me, keeping in these flows shows a lot throughout my writing. The tone stays the same, context, and direction I am wanting to emphasis. 

Getting in the mindset of deep work actually enticed my positive attitude to projects that I don’t necessarily like. Back in college, I had to take numerous electives for my marketing degree such as geography, anthropology, biology, psychology, and the list goes on. I hated completing homework and studying these topics. Conducting deep work changed my mindset towards this. I loved the feeling of checking tasks off my to-do list, to the point I couldn’t wait to have my weekly library sessions.

1. Pick an environment that is less distracting.

If I am wanting to complete some intense deep work I will hide in my room at my desk early in the morning with coffee in hand. Back in college, my friends thought I was psycho considering I would wake up around 4-5 a.m., grab a coffee, and head straight for my desk to crank out writing assignments. 

Personally, my brain thrives in the morning, making 4 a.m. study sessions extremely beneficial. 

2. Time batch projects to stay in your flow.

Break down your assignments, work projects, or side hustle into phases and schedule out enough time on your calendar to complete the same task for various projects back to back. Staying in your flow can optimize your productivity and your performance. 

For example, every Friday after work, I will sit and write out at least four blog outlines that I want to complete over the weekend. Come Saturday morning, I get to writing and researching leaving the evening for creating graphics. Sunday is for uploading to Kayla’s Diary, and linking whatever needs to be linked. 

3. List out what you want to get done.

Listing out what you are wanting to achieve can better set your intentions for the week. Personally, I write lists for everything; work tasks and projects, Kayla’s Diary tasks for the week, weekend tasks, and product lists for shopping. 

I love to get things done as fast as possible and move onto the next. To do that, I need to be extremely organized. A good example is going to the grocery store – I go to the same one each week with a list of all the food I need in order with the store’s layout. This allows me to get in and out in under 15 minutes depending on checkout lines. 

No need to be stuck in there all day walking around aimlessly, ending up with 5 chocolate bars, ice cream, and wine without no idea of how you got there. 

4. Constantly remind yourself of how good it feels to get things done.

Sometimes I’ll sit there at my computer, slumped, staring at the black computer screen mentally trying to push myself to log on and get the day started. Reminding myself of how great it feels to be ahead and checking off tasks whether I dread them or not is an amazing motivator. 

I am absolutely one of those people where if I finish something that isn’t on my to-do list for the day, I will add it just to check it off and get that isn’t gratification for doing so. (I know, ridiculous.)

5. Know when to shut down, even when you don’t want to. 

The problem with getting into deep work is trying to get back out of it. Most the time, I find myself stuck in my workflow, nervous to break it, even if it is to grab water or use the restroom. Honestly, this isn’t a bad thing for me considering I am not in a relationship or have much social obligations, but it still isn’t good for my health.

With my introverted mentality, I could easily stay in all day and night working on projects that need to get done. Setting boundaries and knowing when you need to be shutting down for the night will help influence your work-life balance. If you are wanting to know how to achieve work-life balance, read my recent blog post on this here.

Products, Apps, and everything else I use to get into the groove of deep work.

1. Buy Noise-canceling headphones

This is the first step to creating a deep working environment. Since I have trained my brain to conduct deep work anywhere, I am able to put these in, cancel out the world and take a deep dive. At work, I normally use my Airpods even though these aren’t fully noise-canceling, but luckily my work is a rather quiet office.

If I am at home, at a coffee shop, or airport I like to use these $50 Amazon earbuds that really make the world around me radio silent. 

2. Have a desk in an area with minimal distractions

For those of you that are working from home, stay away from the couch, TV, and kitchen. Whenever I work on the couch, I turn on the TV, and whenever I am sitting on the couch watching TV I frequently head to the kitchen for boredom snacks. Having an office or a small desk/working space in your room is a deal-breaker. I would rather have a desk than a bed or TV. 

I’m just a crazy workaholic. 

3. Make “Do not disturb” your best friend. 

I have always been a fan of the “do not disturb” setting on my phone, even more so now that I have successfully hit the ground running with my career. Even with this setting on, I would catch myself quickly tapping my screen to see what notifications were building up. This affected me to the point where I would be even more distracted than having my screen light up every time a notification came through.

I have now turned off all my notifications for any social media apps on my phone, only allowing work emails and messages to come through. With that, I am now able to disconnect entirely from any phone related interruptions. 

I always hop on my socials in the early a.m., or late evening, to get Blogtober posted, and then I am out for the majority of the day. 

If you are craving to disconnect and dive deep into working towards all your dreams and aspirations you have always wanted to achieve – this is the time! Read my Productive Morning Routine and How to Set Realistic Goals to spark your motivation and get you where you want to be.

 

Until tomorrow, 

Xoxo

Kayla

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