In a recent post, I talked about the importance of having a compelling reason (your “why”) for revamping the way you think about productivity and time management.
Having a big vision for your life is the first step to keeping yourself focused when it comes to changing your time management habits. Not surprisingly, it’s hard to stay focused on changing the status quo when you have no big vision that energizes you.
But, even with a big vision, you can still create your own mental stumbling blocks that prevent you from adopting an amazing deep work practice.
I recently had a fascinating conversation on instant messenger with a potential client. He came to me about implementing a deep work practice, so that he could create higher-quality outputs in his business. He was having trouble creating the quality of work that he wanted to create, because he was resisting scheduling blocks of uninterrupted, focused work.
Client: Frankly, I am not sure why I am resisting scheduling…
Me: I want you to answer that question: “Why am I resisting scheduling?”
Client: I don’t exactly know…
Me: My clients aren’t allowed to say “I don’t know,” by the way! 🙂
Client: Rigidity. Lacks spontaneity and freedom…Too much planning & replanning if I miss out. [Look at how he did know the answer, even though he told himself he didn’t]
Me: So tell me why you want spontaneity and freedom.
Client: I want it because that is exactly why I started having my own consultancy practice…I want spontaneity and freedom more than anything else.
Me: What do you want to do with your spontaneity and freedom?
Client: In 2 words – CREATE & IMPACT 🙂
Me: Do you see what’s happening? You want freedom and spontaneity so that you can create and impact. But you craving freedom and spontaneity is preventing you from creation and impact. You’re caught in a catch-22. Can you see that?
Over the course of the conversation, we discovered some of the other thoughts that have been holding him back: That deep work is painful and full of drudgery; that “the novelty of switching to another new task is not there” when he commits to deep work; that during deep work sessions, he’s focusing deeply on one project instead of crossing a bunch of little things off his list, so “that dopamine hit of instant gratification isn’t there.”
You might be thinking: “Yeah, he has super valid points, this deep work thing is looking worse and worse.”
But when I had him list his reasons for doing deep work, it was so clear how valuable and worthwhile it was for him when he actually did it. One of his empowering, believable thoughts about deep work was “The sense of conquering the insurmountable gives me a feeling of so much pride!”
Deep work isn’t the only option for increasing your productivity, both personally and professionally. But it’s incredible what it can do in your life, and even more amazing the person you become in the process.
This conversation has been edited very slightly for increased legibility.