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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Ireland

Mastering Deep Work: Tapping Into Your Productivity and Presence Potential


Mastering Deep Work: Tapping Into Your Productivity and Presence Potential by Michelle Ireland for SOULACY Magazine


In the whirlwind of our always-on, always-connected world, the art of deep work—immersing oneself fully in a task, free from distractions—has become a precious, yet often elusive, skill for entrepreneurs. Before I found the concept of Deep Work (book title of the same name by Cal Newport) I would find myself at the end of the work day feeling so brain foggy, a bit overwhelmed and under productive. It seemed like no matter how many hours I worked the to-do list didn't really decrease at all. If anything, it felt rather longer.


And as a single mum, I tried [nearly] everything over the years to be as efficient and productive as possible. Many have even said that I was a productivity queen. Yet, even I couldn't get to the end of a work day without feeling exhausted and unfilled. Yucks...


So when I first read Deep Work I was intrigued immediately. The next day I set-up my work day to have a block of uninterrupted, distraction-free work time. I got comfy, had my cuppa (or three) ready to go, I knew what ONE thing I was going to focus on, and I got started. I didn't set a timer, but I was aware of the time and knew about how long I was planning to work, but I set out to have the day be more of an experiment rather than a new routine.


And for the first time ever, I reached the end of the block and I felt energised! I got so much done, felt wonderful whilst doing it, and I had energy left over to focus on other things. I did the deep work sessions a for more times over the week and had the same results. I was converted.


Now, I will admit that I still have many work days where things aren't scheduled and things get done when they need to and I'm jumping tabs and between tasks and I'm back to my old habits. But I know that when I need a mental break and/or I have a tonne of things to do, I have the deep work practice tucked in my wee back pocket ready to use.


So... drawing inspiration from Cal Newport's book, Deep Work, let's journey deep into the heart of focused productivity, unravel the mysteries of our attention, and uncover practical ways to harness the power of undistracted work so we can all benefit from a more energised life leaving us with the time and focus to really dig into those things that matter most to us. The vision, the dream, the 10-year strategy—all the stuff that gets us excited but often gets put to the back whilst we manage the day-to-day.


At the Core of Deep Work


Imagine a day where your mind is free to dive deep, pushing your cognitive limits without the constant ding of notifications and emails. This is the essence of deep work—a sanctuary of concentration that enables us to create, innovate, and excel in ways that scattered focus can never achieve. Honestly, it feels like a brain break.


Attention and Distractions


There is a stark contrast to the scattered state of distracted work and deep work. By understanding how our attention wavers under the assault of interruptions, we can appreciate the profound impact of preserving our focus. So many studies show the hidden costs of multitasking and task-switching, and it's really high and not one that we want to be paying when we have lives and businesses that need our presence.


Crafting Your Deep Work Habit


Embracing deep work demands more than mere intention; it requires a bit of sorting. There's the art of time blocking, setting work hours and communicating them to those who need to know AND keeping to them yourself, the creation of a personal workspace oasis, and the significance of routines that gently guide us into and out of our deep work state. These are the pillars that support our focused endeavours.


Technology: A Bit of a Help and a Hinderance


While technology often plays the role of the distractor, it also holds the potential to be a powerful ally in our quest for deep work. Discover how to wield technology wisely, from productivity apps that keep us on track to digital detox techniques that shield us from the noise, ensuring that our tech serves our focus, not fractures it.


I have had my phone on Do Not Disturb 24/7 for the past many years. There are only five people that can get through to me, even then I have to have my phone nearby to see that they've called or texted. (They have to do that double-call thing to force a ring to come through.) I haven't had Facebook or LinkedIn on my phone for years. I rarely check Messenger and only have Instagram on there because we basically have to. I have it set that I need to pull new emails into the inbox, they don't just drop in. All sounds are off on my phone and computer. All notification ticks are off. Yet, even with all of that, I was still getting interrupted and distracted.


The only thing that I have found that works is putting on a limited playlist with music that has a vibe that I'm trying to create that day, and listening to that on repeat. Sometimes it's just one song over and over again. Sometimes it's a cafe-setting. Other times it's an album that feels consistent throughout and I have it set to play in repeat.


Our Reward


The fruits of deep work extend far beyond the completion of tasks. For us entrepreneurs, it's a gateway to heightened creativity, skill mastery, and work of unparalleled quality. I feel so fulfilled after a deep work session. Gone are the days when I look back and wonder what the hell I spent all those hours doing. I know what I did, and it was amazing. And I cannot overstate how fantastic it feels to either 1) have the remaining energy at the end of the day to be present in life, or 2) to give yourself that dedicated time of deep work to really get into those bigger ideas—your vision, your long-term dream, your legacy, your 10-20-strategy. It doesn't have to be put to the back or wait until a new year is coming; you can spend time with them anytime when you follow the deep work practice.


Navigating the Challenges


Deep work does have its obstacles—from the lure of constant connectivity to the fear of missing out. It doesn't come naturally for many of us anymore to focus on just one thing for any length of time. We may not be the TikTok generation, but our ability to focus has suffered these past years. So the first few times that you settle in for some deep work, it may feel like a challenge. Well... to be fair, you'll probably get through the first time because you'll be riding on a high of trying something new, but the next few times may be a bit of a challenge. Keep giving it a go, turn off the notifications, limit distractions whenever possible, set yourself a conducive environment, and settle in. I pinky promise that those initial challenges will be worth the result.


Cultivating a Deep Work Culture


As entrepreneurs, we have the opportunity to shape not just our own work habits, but also the culture of our teams. I've let countless deep work co-working and co-writing sessions. I've encouraged my contractors to give deep work a try. And I have espoused the benefits of deep work to just about everyone. It really is that powerful so imagine what that would look and feel like if everyone on your team had deep work blocks scheduled into their weeks. <swoon> I just love it.



Embracing Deep Work


Using deep work sessions has redefined my approach to work and, subsequently, my life. Understanding the science of attention, embracing strategies that really work, and nurturing a culture and environment that cherishes focus, we can unlock our true potential and pave the way for extraordinary success and presence in a world of distractions.


If you want to know more, I highly recommend reading Cal Newport's book, Deep Work, or even just getting a summary of it so you can get the bullet points. Then giving deep work a try for yourself. I pinky promise, you will be amazed by how great your feel and just how much you get done, never mind how well you do it.



 

TLDR: Embrace the transformative power of deep work to unlock unparalleled productivity, creativity, and fulfilment in your entrepreneurial journey. Discover practical strategies to cultivate focused, distraction-free work sessions that bring your vision and long-term dreams to life.


 

Michelle is the creative powerhouse behind Soul Spark Enterprises where she brings stories to life through SOULACY Magazine and Soul Spark Publishing. When she's not orchestrating the magic of storytelling, she dives deep into the entrepreneurial world, exploring topics that resonate with fellow ambitious visionaries. Her mission? To make the journey of entrepreneurship a wildly fun and fulfilling adventure!


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