How to Drive Your Deep Work?


In my last article on productivity, I wrote about my actions to stay productive in my busy Ph.D. schedule. I briefly mentioned Deep Work sessions that I would emphasize in this piece.

I asked Chat-GPT to explain “Deep Work” to a six-year-old. This is what it replied:

Deep work is like playing your favorite game or accomplishing your favorite activity without any interruptions. It’s when you focus all of your attention on one thing and give it your best effort. Just like when you’re building a really tall tower with blocks, you need to concentrate and not get distracted by other things so you can build the best tower possible. Deep work is like building the best tower possible but with your brain instead of blocks.

Deep work welcomes any task requiring sustained engagement and concentration, regardless of your field. Some functional examples of deep work can be
– designing an intricate project plan,
– learning a new craft, or
– even building a presentation.

It is the capacity to focus without distraction on a task powered by your cognitive capabilities. It’s a state of flow where you are thoroughly engrossed in your work and competent to deliver high-quality, significant outcomes.

When I got introduced to Deep Work, I blocked 90 minutes on my calendar, sat down, did some work, and repeated. This, of course, did not last long!

To reap Deep Work’s benefits, you must acknowledge a few things.

Creating your very own deep work bubble matters.

Different people may have different definitions of what constitutes deep work, so deciding what it means for you is crucial. These could be tasks that demand extreme focus, creativeness, problem-solving, or the attributes you connect with deep work.

If you define it, you will put effort into going after it. If you let social media define it, chances are high that you will not chase it.

Determine what deep work conveys — what you will give and get in return. Determine what goes in and what comes out.

For example, I am learning German along with my Ph.D. If I give myself one hour to learn grammar, practice some instances, and another hour to improve my vocabulary, I might get a grade of A instead of a B in my German assignment.
– Deep work bubble: Practicing German grammar
– Goal: Grade A
– Immediate Output: A kickass sense of triumph

Clarify your brain. Establish transparent goals for each deep work session. Build the discipline to show up for your goals.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

-Jim Rohn

Your engagement is more critical than any flashy technique.

Calendar blocking is fantastic!

All productivity tools are fantastic!

But, they are useless if you are not engaging in what you do. Commit to it.

What helps you persevere is your resilience and commitment.
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

To maximize your engagement, you have to minimize your distractions.

Recognize and eliminate distractions preventing you from fully engaging in deep work. This can look like
– turning off notifications on your phone and computer,
– closing unnecessary applications, and
– locating a quiet space to work in.

You must allow your brain to build concentration and get into a state of flow. The more you engage with your task, the deeper you get into the flow state.

Pick one of the most mundane tasks to rehearse deep work.

Using mundane tasks to practice deep work is a technique called Productive Meditation.

Here’s how you can use everyday duties to improve your ability to focus and engage in deep work:

  1. Pick an everyday repetitive task that doesn’t require much mental effort, such as brushing your teeth, washing dishes, or walking.
  2. Do not let your mind wander. Bring your attention to the task. Focus on the movements involved in the chore.
  3. Rehearse mindfulness and watch your thoughts and emotions without criticism. Work on your focus muscle and bring your awareness back to the duty when your mind begins to meander.
  4. Set a distinct goal for the chore. For example, you aim to complete it in a specific time frame, like cleaning your kitchen after cooking within 6 minutes.
  5. Raise the task’s difficulty level, like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
  6. Finish the task in a different order. You can drive in a non-usual route to your office.


The very purpose of productive meditation is to get rid of the auto-pilot mode.

Take non-negotiable breaks.

Taking frequent breaks during deep work sessions is critical to restoring energy and refocusing your mind.

Stand up and move around. Get your blood flowing. Stretch your muscles. Take a short walk. Do some stretching—practice chair yoga. Read a book. Call a friend.

Doing an activity you enjoy will lower your stress and ease you.

Always nourish your body with nutritious snacks or a meal. Staying hydrated can help enhance your mood, energy levels and bring mental clarity.

Reflect on your progress.

You have to know how far you have come to go even further.

Quantify your goals. Give higher weightage to the tough ones. Pat on your back when the numbers are high.

Sounds silly! Isn’t it?

Get your journal out and start hacking on your accomplishments. It is your victory. Own it like you mean it.

I have set some fixed weightage for different fields I am working on and check my efficiency based on those numbers.

Use your insights from contemplating your improvement to adapt your deep work approach. This may lead to
– modifying your schedule,
– revising your goals and subgoals, or
– asking for additional support.

Tracking your progress will push you to stay motivated and attentive. This will deliver a sense of accomplishment when you complete your deep work sessions. This feeling matters!

In a nutshell

  • Characterize what Deep Work means to you.
  • Strive to build and maintain engagement.
  • Take Deep Work beyond your workspace.
  • Recharge and refuel.
  • Journal.


You must believe that you can achieve your purpose. Bring clarity to your thoughts surrounding your goals. Appreciate being in the presence.

You got this!

This post was previously published on


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