How to reach peak mental performance and get more done in less time.
As Cal Newport said in his best-selling productivity book Deep Work:
“To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.”
But in today’s distraction-overload world where attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare.
Yet, according to Cal Newport, to thrive in this new economy, you must be able to do two things:
Quickly learn complicated things
Efficiently produce high-quality output
As Newport wrote, “These tasks require deep work. If you don’t cultivate this ability, you’re likely to fall behind as technology advances.”
To help you perform deep work on a daily basis, we’ll go over a 6-step deep work routine that makes it easy to focus and get things done.
Step 1: Block Time For Deep Work
You need to set aside specific blocks of time in your calendar for deep work — and protect these times from distractions as much as you can.
Research shows that the majority of people are most productive in the morning. This is when cognitive performance (concentration, mental clarity, and problem-solving) tends to peak.
So for most people, the morning hours are the most optimal time in the day to perform deep work.
Try to block at least 90 minutes for deep work every morning, and watch your productivity skyrocket.
Step 2: Set A Clear Goal
You need to have a clear goal for each of your deep work sessions. If you lack a specific objective, your brain will automatically gravitate toward distractions.
Examples of specific deep work goals are:
Write at least 1000 words for chapter 3 of my book
Finish the marketing plan for my SaaS business
Spend 90 minutes programming a new app feature
The more specific the goal for your deep work session, the better.
Step 3: Remove All Possible Distractions
Distractions are the enemy of deep work. And to fully enter a state of deep work, you have to eliminate as many distractions as possible before you start working.
It’s important to be proactive about this instead of reactive.
In this day and age, most distractions come from our devices. To be one step ahead of these digital distractions, you need to:
Turn off notifications on your phone and computer
Use tools like Freedom and Cold Turkey to block distracting websites
Put your phone on airplane mode (and out of sight)
Close disrupting communications tabs (such as email or Slack)
Step 4: Take Regular Breaks
Working in a state of deep concentration is an energy-intensive task for the brain, so you need to take regular breaks to recharge your focus and optimize cognitive performance.
Personally, I work in 90-minute deep work cycles followed by a 20–30 minute break in which I get a cup of coffee, listen to music, or get some fresh air.
Step 5: Pick A Deep Work Location
By dedicating a certain spot towards deep work, you’ll create a mental association between that location and the state of deep focus, making it easier to enter that state when you are there.
Whether it’s a secluded coffee shop or a quiet spot in your (home) office, pick a location that supports your focus and productivity.
Step 6: Use Focus Boosters
In my book Peak Productivity, I wrote extensively about the most effective focus boosters. To use a quote from the book:
“Focus boosters provide you with a mental edge so you can reach the deepest levels of flow and operate at peak mental performance.”
Two of the most accessible focus boosters are:
Studies show that caffeine can provide an improvement in energy, focus, cognitive performance, and short-term memory.
That’s why most of my deep work sessions are accompanied by a delicious cup of black coffee.
Furthermore, research from Ohio Wesleyan University showed that repetitive, low-information music (classical, ambient, or electronic music) improves concentration.
So when I’m about to dive into deep work, I usually put on my noise-canceling headphones and listen to this focus playlist I’ve created.
Deep Work Is A Skill
As Cal Newport said, “The ability to concentrate is a skill that must be trained. To build this skill, you must create a regular habit of sticking with difficult tasks, even when you don’t feel like it.”
And just like improving any skill, the beginning stages will be the most challenging.
But the more you practice deep work, the easier it will be. Eventually, it will become a natural part of your day.
Contributed by Jari Roomer
For more information and updates join our WhatsApp group HERE
Follow us on Twitter HERE
Join our Telegram group HERE