The Deep Work Experiment: Week One

Week one of the Deep Work Experiment is complete! That means – seven days with no social media, seven days of trying to build in dedicated “deep work” sessions, and seven days of recommitting to my novel.

Part of this process is accountability and keeping score. Although I’m hoping to see improvements in lots of areas of my life, including my work as a writing coach, what I’ll be focusing on in this blog is  the impact my experiment is having on my progress towards finishing a novel by the end of September 2017.

I’ve been keeping a deep work journal for the past week. So far I have been managing 1-2 hours of deep work on my novel a day. (Deep work is defined as distraction free chunks of time, where I’m doing real cognitive work on my novel – figuring out the mechanics of a scene, writing a chapter, doing research – not just dabbling with formatting or what have you).

This has translated into the following word counts over the past week:

May 31 503
June 01 1017
June 02 268
June 03 178
June 05 899
June 06 1063

That’s just under 4,000 words for the week! I’m pretty astonished at my leap in productivity, especially as I was away with the Firefly Creative Writing team for a retreat this weekend. So far, so good.

As well as recording hours worked and words written, I’ve also been recording my thoughts on implementing the Deep Work Experiment so far:

  • Turning off social media is surprisingly easy – I actually don’t feel as though I am missing that much, although I did feel a pang of needed to be connected when the terrorist events unfolded in London over the course of the weekend. I’m certainly noticing that it’s pushing me to reach out to people more directly, and to make more of an effort to check in.
  • The focused approach to scheduling time is really helpful. I bought a desk planner and have been dividing up my day – an hour for administrative tasks, a substantial block of time for a more demanding tasks, scheduled gym time, clients fitting in… It feels like I’m managing to do more in less time.
  • I started off really gung ho and thinking I would get up at 5.30 and work on my novel. It turns out that even though I’m a morning person, even I can’t manage this. I was just half asleep and unable to produce.
  • Deep work is tiring. The brain ache is real. So far I have found a quick walk outside to be the best way to reset.
  • My brain is really good at looking for distractions – take away social media and I’ll focus on texts, emails, composing emails in my head, listening to podcasts, etc etc. I’ll really go to a lot of lengths to avoid being bored for any length of time. This feels like one of the biggest areas I need to work on.

One thought on “The Deep Work Experiment: Week One

  1. thesheepcounterblog

    Good to hear it’s going well Ailsa. Keep at it! I recently gave up social media for a week and really didn’t miss it at all, also saved about 2 hrs of time. Shouldn’t have gone back on!

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