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‘Remove all distraction’: Deep work is the secret to productivity

Deep work: here's what it is, why you need it, and how to get into it. (Source: Getty)

Productivity is a hot topic right now: whether it’s economic productivity or your personal productivity at work, Aussies are looking for ways to work more efficiently.

But how do we actually sink into it?

According to digital marketing agency King Kong founder Sabri Suby, the secret lies in a concept you might have heard of before called ‘deep work’.

Just like the name suggests, it’s all about getting rid of the clutter and focusing on what you need to do. After all, being busy is not the same as being productive.

“The world is full of distractions, and it’s difficult to stay focused when you have lots of tasks and many voices vying for your attention,” he told Yahoo Finance.

Research has found that you’ll take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to your original task at hand every time you get distracted, he added.

“So if someone knocks on your door to ask a quick question, that could be 30 minutes lost, even if the question only takes five minutes.”

What is deep work?

Suby defines deep work as a period of time that lets you focus uninterrupted on your most important tasks.

Not only this, but you should be wanting to push your cognitive capacity to the limit in this distraction-free mode of concentration.

“The idea is to get into a state of flow, where you can access maximum brainpower to achieve the best results. It’s the kind of concentration where you’re so absorbed in your task that you don’t even notice how much time has passed,” he said.

How do I get into ‘deep work’?

The state of deep work sounds ideal, doesn’t it? But too often, we find ourselves caught up in a million other tiny little things anyway even when we have the intention of focusing on one task.

“They often say ‘I need to focus’, as if mentally willing themselves into a state of concentration will work. It won’t,” Suby said.

“The best and only way to focus is actually quite simple: remove all distraction, because the opposite of distraction is focus.”

So the way to get into ‘deep work’ is to take matters into your own hands, Suby advised.

1. Block out a period of deep work into your diary

And make sure your colleagues know about it. “If possible, try to block out the same deep work time each week.

“This will turn the practice into a habit, and your teammates will know to leave you alone during those hours,” the digital marketing agency founder said.

2. Plan your deep work the day before

You don’t want to waste the first few minutes of the meeting you’ve booked with yourself dithering about not knowing where to start.

Suby says he asks himself: ‘What tasks will create the best long-term results for my business and my clients?’

3. Turn the volume down

Hit pause on everything that gives you notifications: turn your phone on aeroplane mode so you can’t get texts or notifications; and turn your email off, including any other notifications on your computer.

“Phone, email and notifications have wired our brains to receive a hit of dopamine every time they go off. Naturally, it’s not easy to wean ourselves off these things. The only solution is to put them out of sight and out of mind,” Suby said.

The digital marketer also likes to close as many browser windows as possible, too, and only have sites open that are essential to his work to reduce the risk of distraction.

4. Select the right type of work

Pick the right tasks to dedicate your focus on. “You shouldn’t be working on anything that doesn’t move the money needle in your business. Don’t waste your time on anything that doesn’t push your business forward,” he said.

So it means picking tasks that will drive value and revenue, such as putting together sales copy, crafting offers, creating new products or doing sales funnels: “any big activity that will give you leverage in the long term.”

How often should I be in ‘deep work’?

Suby recommends blocking out a whole day per week if possible, and to not have any meetings scheduled for that day, either.

“Working from home is likely to be freer from distractions, plus you’ll save on travel time. Once your team know that this is a day that you are unavailable, except for emergencies, they quickly learn to better utilise the time you are available,” he added.

If you must have meetings, try to keep them to 30 minutes at the most, and have them first thing in the morning or late afternoon.

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