The Problem With Deep Work That No One Talks About

The Problem With Deep Work That No One Talks About

Deep Work. It's all the rage. Spend four hours of your day in deep work without distractions & get your best work done.

If only the real world was like that.

Unless you are wholly in control of your time & your days, deep work is probably going to be a struggle for you to implement. The modern reality for most of us is we are inundated with meetings, notifications & distractions and asking our co-workers (or family) to leave us alone for 2-4 hours of uninterrupted work time is just not going to fly.

Deep work needs a re-framing.

I'm not disputing that deep work can be effective, but I do think it's time for a shift to a more realistic working arrangement. Which is why I prefer to work in 30-minute sprints.

Because why spend 4 hours to get something done, when you can use the power of constraints to get it done in 30 minutes?

Let me illustrate. I sat in a workshop one day in early 2021 and the facilitator put on a 20 minutes timer and made us work against the clock to write as many ideas as we could.

It was transformative. I've never had so many ideas & I've been hooked on the timer method ever since to get work done FAST.

Here's why I think you should embrace 30 minutes sprints:

You don't disappear from work. It's easier to say to your coworkers I'm unavailable for the next 30 minutes than it is for 4 hours.

Parkinsons Law. Work expands to the time allocated. Allocate less time, get things done in less time.

It's just easier. 30 minutes feels easier on our brains than 4 hours so we're more likely to do it.

Next time you're feeling bad because you can't get deep work done, try a couple of 30-minute sprints instead and see how much you accomplish in the day.

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Posted as a Daily Essay on 17th October 2022 in Personal Operations