“One strategy that caught my attention: he confines his deep work to long, uninterrupted bursts.” — Cal Newport

Cal Newport interviews a professor who separates his year of work into separate themes. In the fall and winter he generates and discusses ideas with his classes and then uses the rest of the year to write papers based on those ideas. By splitting his two work modes, generating ideas and writing, he can focus completely on the task at hand. Eliminating distractions and truly focusing on your work is typical productivity advice. However, he expands this idea to cover a longer time span, focusing on one mode of work for months at a time.

You may not have that kind of control over your work, but what if you adopted this idea on a more limited basis? Early in the week you focus on idea generation and later in the week you execute those ideas. Or, maybe you spend the first week every other month solely committed to generating and developing new projects and the rest of the time actually getting them done? Distractions on a minute-to-minute basis are a productivity killer but is it possible to use that philosophy on a longer time scale, too?

  • http://twitter.com/mcatt89 Matt Herman

    This is basically the same approach as Scrum development. Plan, execute to done, review, and then restart the cycle.

    • http://twitter.com/samspurlin Sam Spurlin

      I’m not familiar with Scrum development but it certainly sounds similar. I like the idea of focusing on one “type” of work for a long time (i.e. brainstorming and developing an idea) without worrying about taking the next step right away. Allows you to keep your attention on one aspect of the project to really make sure it is done well.

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