Deep Work Day: Primitive’s Learnings
Posted by Lacey Wilcox | March 23, 2022
Caring for our team well is one of our most significant priorities. If our team is not well cared for, it is impossible for them to do the important work of caring for our clients. It’s a crucial cycle, and it’s one we are deeply committed to improving as much as we can.
This is one of the reasons we instituted four-day workweeks this year. Every Friday, half of our team is completely off. Multiple studies have been conducted to share the benefits of a four-day workweek, and our team can heartily echo those findings. A four-day workweek has been a huge boost to productivity and morale.
One of the ways we are trying to create space for everyone to focus and work is by holding a company-wide deep work day every Wednesday. Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned as we round out the first quarter of 2022.
What is Deep Work?
Deep work is essentially a focused set period of time where you eliminate distractions, avoid meaningless tasks, and get things done. We all know how easy it is to look up after an hour of “work” and realize that we have been very busy, and accomplished nothing.
This concept comes from the book Deep Work: Rules to Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, and if that title doesn’t make you want to immediately read this work, I don’t know what would. But it also clearly outlines the dilemma so many of us face: we have meaningful work we want to accomplish, but we’re so easily distracted by things around us – emails, Slack messages, social media, and more. Deep work helps eliminate those distractions and provides a way for us to focus and achieve.
While we are still trying to perfect these deep work days as a company, we have found it to be really helpful to have our entire team working in this focused way all at the same time.
Deep Work: Prim Style
We have definitely not perfected deep work days here at Primitive, and we’re not the experts by any means. But we have learned a few things about having a company-wide day focused on deep, intentional work. Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned.
- It takes time. Focus is a kind of mental muscle, but it still requires exercise and patience. For some of our team, the very first Deep Work Wednesday was tough. But as we’ve used this “muscle” every Wednesday, we’ve all seen more and more success.
- Schedule deep work like any other meeting. One of the things our Chief of Staff, Annie, created was a calendar invite for everyone to join that helped everyone block out the different aspects of their day: time to check email and Slack, a block of deep work, lunch and Slack conversations, more deep work, and then a quick email and Slack check at the end of the day.
- Have a plan. One of the mistakes some of us made at the beginning of our Deep Work Wednesdays was not actually planning for the day. Because our company has set aside an entire day for this work, it was easy to just think we could kind of figure things out as we go. The days go far more smoothly when we have a plan of action for the day.
- Avoid meetings. This is a really tricky one sometimes, because we can’t always control when a client might have an urgent need. But as much as possible, Wednesdays are a company-wide no meetings day. This allows everyone to focus and get in a groove on their work.
- Disable notifications. While we are in a deep work block, our team disables all notifications from email, Slack, etc. These things only serve as distractions, and they often involve very shallow work that doesn’t create forward progress.
- Create a deep work routine. Having a slightly different routine on deep work days can help your mind execute a shift that allows you to focus more intently. Maybe you get up a little earlier on deep work days, or make a big breakfast, or workout in the morning instead of the afternoon. But creating a routine that is unique to your deep work can help your mind do this work better.
- Location matters. It’s important to know yourself in order to know what you need to work deeply. Some on our team prefer to work from home these days, but others are more energized to work from a public location like a coffee shop.
Is Deep Work Worth the Hype?
While there is much we still have to learn about deep work, especially as we try to implement it company-wide, we have all been able to clearly see the advantages it can bring for our team and our clients. It allows us to create a schedule for our team that allows for meaningful work and life, and to create really intentional, successful work for our clients. The result is a team that is not only able to be more productive, but also more creative because they have had space for rest and education.
If you want to follow along as we share more about our deep work day experience, as well as our thoughts on offering a four-day workweek, make sure you’re subscribed to our blog below!