Deep work is a professional’s unfair advantage. Can you push it for longer than 6 hours in a day, or is it enough?
In the era of constant distraction, it's more important than ever to be able to focus deeply on work that truly matters. But is it really possible to do deep work for more than 6 hours a day?
Many experts say no. They argue that after 6 hours of deep work, our cognitive resources are depleted and we need time to rest and recharge.
The modern workplace is a constant source of distraction. From emails to social media, there's always something vying for our attention. This can make it difficult to stay focused on work. In a survey of 2,000 professionals, 37% said they were interrupted once an hour, and 22% were interrupted every 10 minutes. In another study, researchers found that the average worker is interrupted once every 11 minutes by email or instant messaging.
With email, social media, and the internet always at our fingertips, it's difficult to stay focused on work tasks. To be productive in this era of constant distraction, workers need to learn how to manage their time and focus on the task at hand.
This is where deep work comes in.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It is a skill that allows you to block out everything else and really hone in on what you are doing.
There are many benefits to deep work, including improved mental clarity, better problem-solving skills, and increased productivity. In our fast-paced world, it is essential to be able to focus in order to get things done and reach our goals.
A 2015 study at the University of California suggested that immersion in something that has caught an individual's attention throughout at least 23 minutes tends to reduce a person's productivity. This is due to the familiarity with the flow of a person's mind once the mind refocuses itself. Attention residue results in lowered productivity by 40 minutes.
When you limit your focus to one thing at a time, the brain solidifies emotional intelligence via the so-called, "myelination", by enhancing connections between neurons in order to speed up the firing of information. The outcome of such training is enhanced performance and decreased level of distraction.
A study done by Anders Ericsson suggests that most people can’t do more than 4-hours of deep work in a day. Cal Newport, the writer of Deep Work, suggests the same in his book.
However, there are some outliers to every rule. Some exceptional performers are able to do 6-8 hours of deep work after months of creating a deep work ritual for themselves.
In conclusion, don't worry about long hours of deep work. Focus on your most important tasks for the day and schedule them with your deep work hours. This will help you be more productive and get the most out of your time.
Try to set a deep work ritual for yourself everyday. Start with blocking 2-3 hours everyday where you can work in peace. Turn off notifications and inform your team in advance about your unavailability. After the first week, reflect on your progress. Did you actually get more work done in those 3 hours everyday? How do your energy levels feel after a deep work session? How long does it take you before you can optimally start to work again?