Scheduling Time for Deep Work

There is a message I keep hearing lately. The intention of it rising to the top of my consciousness every time I come across it, the words sound like “Deep Work” or “The One Thing” or (God help me) “The 10x Rule” but the meaning for me is this: I need to focus.

October 2017 has turned out to be the month of challenges for me – from the 30 day keto challenge to the 100 day blog post a day challenge (which I think is paying off, if I look at posts like this one) – and I think focus might be another habit I need to examine.

Here’s why I think that is:

I thrive when I work alone. Or do I?

It has never been popular for me to say I prefer to work alone. I remember admitting it to one of my teacher’s in grade school. When the number of students was uneven and she couldn’t immediately put me in a pair, I told her not to worry. I didn’t need to be on a team! I would rather work on the project on my own anyway.

Her brow furrowed. Her mouth tightened into a tan, thin grimace. I had not supplied the right answer, this was clear.

She placed me with a pair of kids and pronounced us a project threesome. Yay!

Woo. Hoo.

I’ve since learned to work well with others and actually look forward to hearing new ideas. But I still hate the uncomfortable clunkiness when the process doesn’t work the way I want it to. I still have a lot to learn.

The extroverted introvert at work

Part of what I love about what I do, as a consultant and speaker who works for myself and has no employees, is that I have more control over my schedule and can mold it the way I wish.

deep work and tea
Perhaps scheduling time for contemplation and tea…

I could schedule in a midday workout if I wanted. Maybe take a power nap. On weekdays, I could write poetry after lunch to “clear the cobwebs” and reenergize before immersing myself in assessing a website’s SEO or creating a roadmap for social media optimization.

Except that I don’t.

The sad truth is that, similar to when I worked on site for previous employers, I most often keep working away at a project until I can’t wait any longer to run to the restroom. In my own house, people.

And that’s tragic.

Opportunity for growth

I recently had a ton of deliverables I had to get through. More than seemed possible.

For three days and nights I mostly ignored social media, family, phone calls, emails, and other daily activities that would distract me from getting everything knocked out in time. And I met my goal.

Exhaustion was knocking on the door to my soul and I felt utterly depleted, a human husk of the person I’d once been, but I met my goal. And I got to thinking…

What if I actually implemented some of the Deep Work philosophy into my daily routine? Imagine how much I could accomplish! All those ideas I keep trying to schedule for when things slow down, I could meet head first and address sooner. The idea of it excited me, inspired me, and I felt motivated and full of promise.

Until the pendulum swung the other way and I spent three days straight checking my iPhone maybe 800 times each day to the point my neck hurt. Something is seriously wrong with me and the amount of distraction I have when it comes to the phone.

Now is the time

I have some projects I’ve been thinking about for a long time, planting seeds with potential collaborators along the way.

you grow when you get uncomfortableWhile I can’t disappear into the woods for a month, or even a beach retreat for a long weekend, I can own my schedule (for the most part) and train myself to work with intensity and focus for a 2-3 hour window every day.

I’ll start with 1.5 hours and work up to it, keeping the phone on silent and out of sight. I’m not insane.

Maybe this will get me to my goals faster. Maybe I’ll discover I don’t really like those projects, after all. But I want to cut out the distraction and find out what I can do.

Want to join me? Let me know. We can create our own 100 Day Deep Work Challenge.

Who’s in?


[Authors Note: This is Day 9 of my 100 Day Blog Post Challenge (you can read my first post in this challenge, too). If you liked it, please share this post with others and subscribe to the newsletter for more great tips and news. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Thanks!]

Comments 3

  1. Ginger
    October 18, 2017

    I’m in! I’d love to work more proactively, instead of feeling so reactive all the time.

    1. October 18, 2017

      It is surprising to me how much my mind fights it, but once I get into the flow, it is so nice! I feel more…not just productive, but fulfilled. Like I’ve done what I know I need to do. It’s a good feeling. #100days #teamdeepwork

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