The Deep Work Challenge

Deep work is great, people. It really, well, works. Today I received an email from a client asking to respond within the hour how long it would take me to translate 10 1-page .pdfs. So I went ahead and simply translated them within that hour I was supposed to spend thinking about the speed of my translation.

To be fair, the 10 files had a lot of repetitive parts. But to be doubly fair, there was a lot of fussing with the format. They all had complicated headers and some handwriting. One would need this part underlined, those two bold-typed and other three italicized, while another required the first two be left alone, the other two put in a larger font, and the last 3 italicized and bold-typed.

For deep work, you have to train yourself to go into stretches of profound, trance-like concentration. It doesn’t happen at once. It’s like running a marathon. You train, and train, and train, and then you are ready.

I’m starting a deep work challenge here on the blog. I’ll share daily activities that will prepare us to work deeper and accomplish more in less time. You know that unpleasant, sticky feeling where you’ve worked all day but can’t really say what it is you’ve actually done? Deep work is a cure for that.

The author of the book where I found the idea of deep work is Cal Newport. It’s a great book and I highly recommend. But the activities are all mine. Except one that I did find in Newport’s book but I’ll credit him once I get to it.

Prepare! The challenge begins tomorrow. We’ll get ourselves more focused and ultimately much freer.

9 thoughts on “The Deep Work Challenge

  1. Pfft! I retired from working for a living 25 years ago, and the only deep work I’ve done since then is full-time loafing, collecting my generous government pension, travelling overseas to see old European friends when I feel like it, alternating between watching the Fox Business channel to see how my investments are growing and watching reruns of “Law & Order,” occasionally writing hack horror short stories that are easy to sell, and outliving two cats that I raised from kitten status until they died of old age. As far as “deep work” goes — I’ve been there as a civilian doctor and a career military officer, enjoyed it most of the time — but now that it’s over and done, it’s yesterday’s news, and I don’t miss a second of it.

    This isn’t a hostile post. I admire and sympathize with anybody still living through deep work — but it’s been a while since I commented, and I wanted to add my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always great to hear from you, my friend! And who knows, maybe one of the challenges will inspire you to write a horror story about a man who was doing a deep work challenge exercise and got so immersed in it that when he came to, he realized he was in a completely unfamiliar house with no idea how he got there and how to get out…


      1. “when he came to, he realized he was in a completely unfamiliar house with no idea how he got there and how to get out…”

        Great plot idea, Clarissa! Especially if the unfamiliar house is a symbol for the modern world that has unknowingly arisen around him, and he has no idea how to deal with it. I’ll work on it…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I could get into a flow state, but in my household that’s impossible. I live with and take care of an autistic younger brother when I’m not working, I have to keep an eye on him so he won’t wander outside the house. The only way to keep him in one place is for him to go on his computer or tablet or I stay in the room with him, otherwise he’ll wander outside without the keys and not know where the house is


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