The Problem With Deep Work That No One Talks About

Ev Chapman
October 17, 2022
2 min read

Deep Work. It's all the rage. Spend four hours of your day in deep work without distractions & get your best work done.

If only the real world was like that.

Unless you are wholly in control of your time & your days, deep work is probably going to be a struggle for you to implement. The modern reality for most of us is we are inundated with meetings, notifications & distractions and asking our co-workers (or family) to leave us alone for 2-4 hours of uninterrupted work time is just not going to fly.

Deep work needs a re-framing.

I'm not disputing that deep work can be effective, but I do think it's time for a shift to a more realistic working arrangement. Which is why I prefer to work in 30-minute sprints.

Because why spend 4 hours to get something done, when you can use the power of constraints to get it done in 30 minutes?

Let me illustrate. I sat in a workshop one day in early 2021 and the facilitator put on a 20 minutes timer and made us work against the clock to write as many ideas as we could.

It was transformative. I've never had so many ideas & I've been hooked on the timer method ever since to get work done FAST.

Here's why I think you should embrace 30 minutes sprints:

You don't disappear from work. It's easier to say to your coworkers I'm unavailable for the next 30 minutes than it is for 4 hours.

Parkinsons Law. Work expands to the time allocated. Allocate less time, get things done in less time.

It's just easier. 30 minutes feels easier on our brains than 4 hours so we're more likely to do it.

Next time you're feeling bad because you can't get deep work done, try a couple of 30-minute sprints instead and see how much you accomplish in the day.

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