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Tuesday: Deep Work

 

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Have I told you about the Eudamonia Machine* yet?

It is an imaginary place that has been designed to facilitate deep work.

This building is five rooms deep and you can only enter each room through the previous room. In the first part of the building you visit a gallery where you get to view what the human mind has created-works of art, new technology, advances in medicine. Next, you enter a coffee shop where you can sit and discuss/debate ideas with others. After that you go into a library where you can find the books, the research, the manuals to learn more about these ideas or to begin to create your own ideas. Then you go into a conference room where you sit around a big table with dry erase boards and sticky notes and you brainstorm, create, delegate with a team. Finally you enter the deep work chambers which are sound proof rooms for one person to go into for up to 90 minutes at a time and write, think, and integrate ideas.

The Gallery: If I think of my brain as a facility, I spend a lot of time in the Gallery. Most of my enjoyment of the internet, social media, magazines, television, books, and music are essentially seeing what other people have created.

The Coffee Shop: This is a natural place for me to want to hang out because I love people, coffee and lively discussions. That part of my brain feels well-fed as long as I enter these conversations wanting to learn something new.

The Library: If I am not careful, the library can be another version of the Gallery for me but the design of this facility challenges me to enter the library not only as a consumer but as a thinker. Picking up books right out side of my comfort zone, noticing the new ideas that are popular or being published stretches these rooms in my brain. Researching ideas, words, reasoning it’s like scratching an itch I forgot I had.

The Conference Room: Even though I love doing collaborative work, I love meetings, I love learning new things, putting together new ideas and doing it all with a very small group of stimulating people, time in The Conference Room does not naturally find it’s way in my schedule (more about this tomorrow).

The Deep Work Chambers: All of this is to tell you that TUESDAY is my day for entering into deep work. In the past, I would think that I could do this kind of work from home or at a coffee shop, but now, I find a small room in the library, turn off all of my internet access and stay with the blank document in front of me. If I try to do this from home I find myself pulled out of the challenging, often painful, process of digging into those deep crevices in my brain, into the shallow work that is floating all around me. Suddenly there is nothing I would rather do than return that email, take out the trash, choose this moment to clean out the bathtub…nevermind, I will just check instagram.

As I have experimented with each of these rooms this past year, I found that The Deep Work Chambers was exactly like that dream where you find a room filled with all of these random items you didn’t know existed. It’s the best dream. The room never looks like you want it to, but it has potential and you know just what you want to do with it now that you know where it is.

If my week works the way I’ve planned for it to go (which happens about once a month, by the way) then I have all of the major chores done on Monday which frees me up to dive into some deep work on Tuesday. Off I go…

 

May you discover some new rooms in yourself that open up new worlds to you today.

 

*All of this is from that wonderful book, Deep Work by Cal Newport. So, So Good.