Joseph Hallenbeck
July 14, 2019

Deep Work in Action

Filed under: Software Development

Now that I’ve gone through my notes on Deep Work it’s time to form a plan on how to put them into action.

A Deep Work Routine & Ritual

My work day starts with a stand up at nine o’clock every day. My goal is a fixed rhythmic routine of deep work every day of the week from 10:00 to 14:00. This gives me an hour after stand up to put out any fires, respond to any coworker requests and then go into lock down.

The routine looks like this:

  • Decide on what I will be working on, and get any unanswered questions answered for the Deep Work session the day prior.
  • Take care of the needs for all of the pets so they won’t be their own distractions during the deep work session.
  • Close out of Slack, Discord, and Thunderbird on the computer. Put the phone on priority DND and set it face down outside of arm’s reach. Close all tabs not directly related to the work in Firefox.
  • Make a full Stanly thermos of coffee so there is no need to brew more during the deep work session
  • Meditate for ten minutes before transiting into the session.

At 1400, grab lunch, pause for a thirty minute Internet block to check Slack, Discord, Thunderbird. Read the RSS feed for the day and catch up on Mastodon.

The last two or three hours of the work day is dedicated to smaller engineering tasks, research, gathering resources and asking questions for the next day’s deep work session.

After 1400 we can use productive meditation to contemplate the next steps or challenges that will require deep work to resolve.

Shut Down Ritual and Relaxation

At 2330 of each day is a thirty minute shut down ritual that casually follows some of the ideas from Getting Things Done:

  • Mark all the done items in my bullet journal done in Todo.txt.
  • Empty all Inboxes into my Todo.txt or calendar. These inboxes might be ideas scribbled in the bullet journal during the day, e-mails, or tomorrow’s events in the calendar. If an e-mail can be responded to quickly (less than a minute) than quickly dash it out to keep it off the list.
  • Decide on the one thing to be done during tomorrow’s deep work session.
  • Prioritize the items in Todo.txt, and jot down the items prioritized for tomorrow in my bullet journal.
  • Clap and say, “It is done.” Leave the home office, closing the door behind me and leaving work behind for the remainder of the day.

I sleep at 0200, so this gives me three hours to wind down with reading fiction or playing games on the Switch.

Elimination Distraction

Do an inventory of your network tools.

Locking down the Smart Phone

  • The purpose of the Smart phone is (1) a communication device, (2) a GPS navigator and (3) a music player. Any usage outside of these three should be circumspect: games, web browsering, and video are right out.
  • Remove Tusky, Discord, and other distracting chat applications from the phone
  • Remove the browser from the home screen to remove the temptation to surf the web when bored
  • Audit all notifications. Remove all but priority notifications. If possible, only notify for texts and e-mails from spouse and supervisors.

Locking down the PC

  • Schedule fixed Internet blocks during the day for network tool use (Slack, Discord, E-mail, Mastodon, RSS). Right now, this is 1400-1430. For additional Internet blocks, record in the bullet journal at the end of each block the next Internet block.
  • Make a habit of closing out of all network tools – applications and tabs, whenever I am in the Deep Work session. Outside of Internet blocks, leave Slack alone open.
  • Audit the RSS feed each quarter to remove any blogs that haven’t sparked joy
"Deep Work in Action" by Joseph Hallenbeck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.