In a distracted world filled with interruptions, it is becoming increasingly hard to do deep, thoughtful work.
Open workspaces, email, and chat software make it easy to collaborate, but also enable an always-on culture with an expectation to respond ASAP to all communication. Creating the environment, culture, and processes to enable deep work can help companies differentiate and enable better work-life balance for their employees.
I've been thinking long and hard about how I can enable deep, meaningful work every day for myself and the teams I work with. Here are some of the tweaks I've been trying to make in my life to enable more deep work (some of these are still aspirational).
Waking up early
This is the biggest change I've made in my life and the results have been staggering. I'm generally up by 5 am. Between 5 and 7 am, I'm able to work on the most important and impactful tasks for the day.
Using emails only three times a day
Email is a wonderful tool but can often give you a false sense of accomplishment. I'm consciously trying to spend as little time on email as possible and now access email 3 times a day - once in the am, once around noon and once at the end of the business day. I now try and assess the quality of my workday by how much I've "created"—more strategy, product design and engineering, more product writing, and lesser email.
Indulging in more thoughtful asynchronous communication
Slack, Telegram, Teams, and other chat software can be a double-edged sword. They can enable collaboration and more kinship, but they can also lead to a distracted, tired workplace with fewer thoughtful discussions.
While I still use these channels, I'm also trying to enable more long-form, thoughtful asynchronous communication and move away from the expectation that all communication be immediate.
More long-form, thoughtful communication in the workplace can also help in cutting out unnecessary meetings if written, asynchronous communication is done right. The beauty of asynchronous communication is that you can do it on your terms, and not interrupt your work to respond to or join meetings.
Blocking entire days or a few hours every week
I've started blocking a few hours every week and sometimes entire days. I try and work during those hours without any distractions. This one is the hardest to accomplish as meetings have a way of sneaking into your schedule whether you like it not. The key for this method to be successful is to make no exceptions. These time blocks, every week, should be sacrosanct.
Opting for a combination of open and quiet workplaces
Most of us work in open workspaces and sometimes, it's hard to focus for a long period with all the distractions of an open workspace. A combination of open workspaces for better collaboration, and quiet workspaces for when you want to focus without distractions, will eventually become the norm.
Space design is near and dear to my heart, and I hope to spend a lot more time thinking about and building spaces that can enable deep work.
To conclude, focusing on performing deep work has enabled me to be more productive and manage my time better. Give it a try and I am sure you’ll like the result.
I would love to hear from the community on how you are enabling deep work for yourselves and your workplaces.
About the author
Vikram Shenoy is a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting India Private Limited. He leads the digital experience team, that works at the intersection of design and technology and takes pride in keeping users at the forefront while crafting differentiated digital solutions for clients across the globe. He believes that a great work culture is the biggest differentiator for any business.
The views expressed here are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of his current, former, or future employers or any organization with which he is associated.