Welcome to Episode 029 where we discuss the three levels of work that affect your energy in a surprising way.
Here’s what is on this week’s Podcast…
Reminder: New podcast sponsor,5 Minute Energy Kickstart.com which is three 5 minute videos that will help you be more productive, feel more energized, and do your best work. The best part is the video series is absolutely free!
It’s Go Time!
Work. It’s ironic that a majority of the largest chunk of our day often has the fewest amount of real thought into its structure.
We just show up and do the deal.
Not too often do we discuss the topic of “work” and break it down like a football on Monday.
Now, I’m not referring to a general plan for your day but methodically looking at the different levels of work and where do spend a good chunk of our time.
Many of us have a good amount of control of our day. There may be certain areas that are out of our control but many business professionals have a say on what they do and when they do it.
And the reality, whether we recognize or accept it or not is how you work dramatically affects your energy far more than you realize.
I believe there are three primary level of work within many given days. Yet most of us spend far more time in the 1st level, some in the 2nd level, and rarely to never in the 3rd level.
And each level requires that much more of us as you will hear.
Now, we’re not going to spend a lot of time in the weeds but much more at a strategic, 30,000 foot level. Working “on” the business not “in” the business.
The inspiration for this episode is the book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book really made us both think about how we work and how effective we were in our work. This episode is a result of working through his content.
The over-arching THEME of this episode is how can we have more energy within our day to be more productive and it comes down to how we work.
Here are Three Levels of Work that affect your energy more than you realize…
The 1st level of work is called…
1. Surface Work – 8:11
This level of work is defined as simple, often repetitive tasks.
Busy Work / Shallow Work
Cal Newport definition of Shallow Work – non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.
Think Random tasks
* Require little to no effort
* Require little to no thought
* Feel urgent more than important
* Can easily suck up our time far more than we realize
* Often give us a sense of enjoyment
* Give us a false sense of accomplishment
* Rarely move the needle on moving anything of value forward
* Social media
* Many meetings
* Many phone calls
Our work world, especially corporate world lives in this level of work.
It’s easy to hide doing Surface Work.
We “look” busy to others and can even believe this seduction of production.
Surface work is also scattered. We can be ALL OVER THE PLACE while doing surface work. Bouncing around from email to calls to meetings.
Surface Work doesn’t require much of us yet it’s amazing how drained we can feel at the end of the day always reacting.
I remember so many of these types of days where I was “seemingly busy” all day but looked back wondering what I “really” got done or accomplished. Ugh, hate those days and do everything I can to minimize or eliminate them now.
Note: there are elements of Surface Work such as emails, phone calls, and some meetings that are just part of the job. I’m not saying they’re all bad and to avoid them at all costs.
I am saying that we spend FAR too much time living in only this level and again, give us a level of a seduction of production.
Once you identify the surface work that you need to remain in your day, next you need to learn how to best maximize that time.
And if we truly want to be more productive at the end of the day, we must consider the 2nd level of work:
2. Focus Work – 12:56
Focus Work is the next logical step and one that requires growth.
There is Surface Work that must get done so let’s become as productive as we possibly can when we have to do it.
This 2nd level of work is defined as distraction free blocks of time that FOCUSES on ONE primary task.
Did you catch that? Not SCATTERED and RANDOM but FOCUSED and only ONE primary task.
The key is DISTRACTION FREE
This is harder than you think.
MOST of us work in a VERY distracted environment.
* Email alerts
* Text alerts
* Phone rings
* Browsers open when we work
* Easy accessibility to what gets our attention
* Office interruptions of someone doing a “drive by” and just “poking” their head in JUST for a moment.
HERE’s the APPEAL:
Attraction to Distraction – it’s exciting, fresh, and gives us a quick hit
Illusion of Multi-Tasking
Anything that can become a distraction to you and pull you off your game must be recognized then eliminated
The reality is most of us really never stop to consider what is distracting us. Awareness is key.
Then we need to do everything we can to eliminate the distraction so we can maximize this 2nd level of work.
Focus work is a great next step in progressing in our work from Surface Work.
Personally, I move some of my Surface Work into a Focused distraction free block of time.
Here’s an Example: email
My job requires I email and I just honor this requirement. But I’m not required to respond instantly all of the time.
So, I will create Focus Work of a window of time, for example 25 minutes to focus ONLY on email and nothing else.
Here’s the KEY: Focus Work looks for similar tasks you can put together or batch then focus on only that task for a pre-set period of time.
It’s shocking how many emails I can process and plow through when I focus on only email for a set period of time!
Now, I’m developing a system for emailing that I’ve learned from Michael Hyatt on one of his resources called The Email Domination System: Top Hacks for Taming Your Inbox with Templates, Batching, and Time-Saving Tips.
Another example of Focus Work for me is phone calls. Again, I can hammer through a number of returned calls during a set period of time.
Note: I prioritize the calls and work my way down if a call takes longer than planned or if I start getting voice mails. I want to maximize this block of time.
Focus Work is a huge improvement from Surface Work and also allows you to be more productive without a doubt.
Focus Work Requires:
1. Removing the distractions (quarantine)
2. Scheduling focused blocks of time
Scheduling is HUGE. If you want to be truly productive and effective you need to schedule the Focus Block or Time Block AHEAD of time.
And in regards to scheduling, this is both science and art.
The science is knowing exactly what you’re going to do and when. (Email Focus Block 9:00 – 9:25am)
The art is know how often you’ll need to have this Focus Block, when are ideal times, how can you better maximize these times, etc.
But often times, I don’t move the needle much in this area on the areas that truly matter for work. These require a whole different level and leads us into the 3rd level of work:
3. Deep Work – 19:47
Often, I refer to a deep desire many of us have to do what I call our “Best Work”.
Only you can determine what is your best work and how often you accomplish your best work.
Your best work comes during Deep Work.
This level of work is defined as the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively challenging task.
Now, the misconception is to think, “oh, I already do that.”
But I would argue most of us, if we’re really honest with ourselves, would admit, this is not true.
The proof is in the lack of true, meaningful work that actually gets accomplished on any given day.
The Law of Productivity is:
High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
Put is another way that Cal Newport stated: “The type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.”
Why is Deep Work Rare and Hard?
1) We naturally choose the path of least resistance – it’s easy to check email, make a call, check online, turn to social media
2) We’re a society of attraction to distraction – we love the quick hit of scrolling social media, the dig of a text or email. We’re used to and addicted to “on demand distraction” as Cal Newport calls it.
Once you’re wired for distraction, you crave it.
Let’s breakdown the definition of Deep Work again:
1. Ability to focus without distraction
2. On a cognitively challenging task
How to Begin Practicing Deep Work:
1. Be willing to be bored – don’t turn to your phone, tablet, or internet
2. Meditate Productively – the goal is to take a period in which you’re occupied physically but not mentally – walking, jogging, driving, showering – and focus your attention on a well-defined professional problem to work through in your mind.
* Be aware of distractions – when you notice your attention slipping away from the problem at hand, gently remind yourself that you can return to that thought later, then redirect your attention back
* structure your deep thinking – determine the problem to work through / define the next step / consolidate your gains by reviewing clearly the answer you identified
My Deep Work Rules…
1. Carve out the time – plan ahead when you’ll be at your best
2. Choose a Distraction Free Deep Work Location
3. Be Incredibly Prepared – distraction proof / needed resources
4. Be patient – it will take time to “get in the zone” or “the flow”
5. Be aware – resistance will come – early to avoid your deep work or tempt you to get your distraction hit / tix
Resistance – Do the Work by Steven Pressfield reference
Note: the most adept dee thinker cannot spend more than four hours in a state of true depth. This allows for the other half of the day for shallow and focused work.
In the end… Deep Work will:
1. Stretch Us – we’ll find just how much we prefer to be distracted
2. Teach us to concentrate
3. Produce incredible results
5MEK Promo Spot – 36:44
Write One Line Promo Spot – 37:48
WHAT NOW – 39:18
1) Determine What level is the next one you need to take and develop it. For example, if you’re living in Surface Work, figure out what needs to stay and move to Level 2 to Focus Work. If you’re in Focus Work, stretch your depth and move into Deep Work.
2) Write One Line – WriteOneLine.com
3) Read the book, Deep Work – book , audio, cliff notes
Please Give a Rate & Review by Clicking HERE
Audio Editing and Production by Caleb Suwanski