Seek Out Time for Deep Work

With a little bit of wrangling and creativity, you can add “focus time” to your daily calendar. Deep work only happens when we create time for it.

If you’ve never read it, Cal Newport’s book Deep Work should be on your reading list. It proposes a radical philosophy of work: you need time to concentrate deeply on tasks in order to do work that matters.

Recently on his blog Cal mentioned that Outlook, the email and calendaring app, has added a focus plan option where you can “establish a daily focus time routine.” If you use Outlook as part of an Office365 subscription, Microsoft’s AI service will try and schedule focus time for you based on your availability.

You don’t need an AI assistant to do this for you. If your working hours revolve around a calendar, simply schedule time for deep work. At SpiderOak, we have an open culture of booking meetings based on calendar availability. If someone has a block of time marked as Unavailable, then meetings won’t be scheduled during that time. Creating a block of focus time is as simple as scheduling it on your calendar.

I’ve also seen examples of people scheduling their meetings for just the afternoon so that they can have the morning for deep work (or vice versa). This won’t work for everyone, but through basic daily planning and a bit of support from your coworkers you can carve out a time each day that’s dedicated to deeper, more foundational work.

Investing in work like this pays huge long-term dividends. It may be months or years before you see the gains, but they will come. Make time for it!