Deep Work - Aiming for Flow

Something I have been getting into lately is the concept of deep work. Shutting out all distractions for a couple of hours and just concentrating intensely on the task at hand, whatever it may be.

Over the past two years I have gotten better at saying ‘no’ to things, with the intention being that I focus my time on the stuff that is most important. The hardest part of doing this is first deciding what is genuinely important (to business or life or whatever) as opposed to what is just ‘keeping busy’. An example for me might be - is it a better use of my time concentrating on developing a new range or a following up with a new prospective supplier. Once I became clear on what was the best use of my time then any decision on whether or not to do something could just be referred back to this compass.

That was the theory - the practise if not quite as simple. Cal Newport, in this book ‘Deep Work', makes a fairly compelling case that more can be achieved in 2-3 hours of deep work per day than 10-12 hours shallow work per day.

Another great book on the subject is ‘Stealing Fire’ by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal. The theory presented here is that high achievers gain their maximum potential by going into an altered state of consciousness. This can take many forms e.g. deep concentration leading to flow - an altered state induced by meditation and numerous other methods, all with the aim of getting to “flow”.

It does makes sense to me, I have always found that some of my most productive work-related insights have happened outside of the office. Even writing for our blog, which I have only started doing this year, I find extremely enjoyable and at times I do find “flow” while I'm scribbling down my thoughts. I’m old-school - I still write most things with pen and paper and then type it up.

Like I said, that’s the theory. The practise is never quite as simple. A typical day usually includes something going wrong - it's finding the balance between solving these problems and allowing the time for deep work. Because everytime I manage to carve out those few hours I know I have achieved something during them, especially when I can get a run of a few days together. It’s not quite habit yet, but definitely getting there.