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Deep Work: A Helen Keller Moment

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Deep Work.

The term has been around for a few years, but I’d never heard it until I read this New York Times article by Tim Herrera.

And when I did, for a split second I felt like Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker: THERE’S A NAME for that hard mental stuff we do that makes our brains ache!

So why am I writing a post about deep work?

Because it’s really, REALLY important to producing great results – whether you’re in marketing or staffing (or any other industry). Deep work is what allows you to:

  • access the limits of your mental abilities, by completely focusing on a cognitive task
  • master complicated skills
  • produce works of high value with speed

Feeling beached in the shallows?

We all have lots of important priorities. We all have fires to fight and never-ending distractions vying for our attention. But when we react and only work “shallowly,” our performance takes a big hit. Statistics on multitasking and other methods of shallow work show that:

  • It takes an average of 25 minutes to resume a cognitively demanding task after being interrupted.
  • Employees who multitask take 50 percent longer to complete an assignment (compared to employees who focus on a single task).
  • Multitasking leads to a 40 percent drop in productivity.

Want to take a dive?

Working deeply will dramatically improve your performance and results – but it won’t happen by accident. Here’s how to push the boundaries of your cognitive abilities and do amazing work, faster:

  • Find your peak focus time. Your ability to think clearly and learn can vary by as much as 30 percent over the course of a day. And studies of geniuses show that most are at their sharpest early in the day (2.5 to 4 hours after waking). Pay attention to when you naturally feel the most focused. That’s your period of peak mental acuity, and it’s the sweet spot in your day for doing deep work.
  • Feed your brain. Like other parts of your body, your brain needs nutrients and water to perform at optimal levels. Don’t tackle deep work hangry, thirsty or hopped up on caffeine.
  • Schedule it. Block off distraction-free time in a quiet place where you focus well. Close those open apps and browser tabs, hit the DND (you know the drill). And if you have to, use distraction-blocking apps like Freedom, Anti-Social or StayFocusd to keep yourself on task.
  • Make it a habit. Like most things, your success at working deeply will only improve if you practice it regularly. Many models for deep work exist; choose the one that works best for you and commit to it.
  • Be bored. The ability to concentrate is a skill you must hone; one way to develop it is by frequently exposing yourself to boredom. Why? Over time, continual distraction (lookin’ at you, iPhone) at the slightest hint of boredom actually impairs your ability to focus on command. To achieve your deepest levels of concentration, embrace boredom and allow your thoughts to wander freely when you’re not actively working. Paradoxically, occasional mental idleness heightens concentration abilities.

Deep work is in our DNA.

At Haley Marketing Group, our core values promote deep work. Everyone on our team has the resources, time and freedom to focus deeply on our clients’ most important projects – and it helps us deliver amazing results, time and time again. What can our experts do for you?

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