In this blog we’ll discuss the concept of ‘Deep Work’, why it’s important to your freelance work and offer some tips on how to actually do this Deep Work.
What is deep work?
Deep Work is a term coined by author Cal Newport in his book “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”. It’s the opposite of being distracted by phones, emails and social media – focusing on one task for a period of time. With multitasking a myth and just meaning doing more than one thing in a less effective way, and the ‘cognitive switching penalty‘ putting us back to square one, deep work is a single focus to produce better results.
Why is deep work important for a freelancer?
As a freelancer our time is valuable. We may be getting paid by the hour or by the task, and either way we need to get on with the important paid tasks as we’re not getting a salary to turn up and sit at a desk as is the case with many jobs. It’s a rare company that accurately monitors productivity and its easy to coast if we’re not feeling like working hard when on a salary. As a freelancer, wasted time is costing you money.
If you’re doing any kind of creative pursuit, getting into the right mindset is vital to do your best work. Settling down for a few hours can mean the difference between a blank page and a great result that your clients are delighted with.
Close the browser, put down your phone, and roll up your fucking sleeves. The creative process takes time, effort, and courage—not Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
How can you do deep work?
Doing Deep Work is a case of focusing solely on what you’re doing. To this end, you will need to remove all other distractions. This could be your phone, email program, TV, kids or whatever else is taking your attention away from your task. This can be scary at first, with worries about people not being able to contact you and that fear of missing out. The more you put time aside to focus on work however, the more you realise that people can (usually) wait and that the world will still be there in a couple of hours.
This concept fits well with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Getting Things Done approach – choosing the most important tasks and getting them finished before allowing distractions and other peoples agendas to dictate your actions.
If it’s too much to focus for an entire morning, start off with say 30 minutes to complete a smaller task. The Pomodoro technique can be helpful with this.
If your job is not online, turning off your internet can help focus you on the task at hand instead of checking social media or emails or browsing random fluff instead of getting on with your work.
I also keep a note taking app open while working so I can dump any stray thoughts into that and deal with them later.
In this article we’ve discussed what Deep Work is, how it will benefit your freelance work and offered some tips on how to actually achieve this Deep Work in daily life.