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How to Stop Dividing Work and Dig Deeper

By Sandy Schroeder

If a typical work morning fills up quickly with a dozen different tasks, you may be struggling to keep your focus on the important work. Emails, texts, and calls can bounce us from topic to topic, while the major projects wait.

The New York Times suggests you learn how to do "deep work," a concept created by Cal Newport in his new book, Digital Minimalism.  Newport said doing deep work means focusing without distraction on a mentally demanding task.

You make this happen when you set aside time to just work on one major task with no interruptions. Most of us know this means moving to a quiet spot, closing the door and turning off the phone. Then your brain can really think about what is needed and what to do next.

How This Really Works

For starters, avoid cheating. Quick checks of emails or phones break your concentration and force you to start over to focus on the problem at hand. When you do this, you create a distraction residue that stays with you, interrupting your work again and again.

Simple Ways to Successfully Concentrate

Set aside blocks of time - Concentrated work on one project simply never happens unless you make room for it in your schedule. Some people work at home for an hour or two before they come into work. Others stay late and do an extra hour of concentrated work after hours. 

Carry a reminder notebook - Once you begin to successfully work on major projects, they often stay in the back of your mind. Whenever you think of something that you want to do, jot it down.

Cut back on random stimuli - In our society nobody wants to be bored. The minute they feel bored they jump to social media. Newport points out deep work really can be a little boring as you have to plow through everything. When we are used to being stimulated, it is harder to stick with a serious project.

Find your comfort level - As you start using special blocks of time to work on major projects, see how it works for you. Once you get into it, you may want to continue working longer, or you may need a follow-up period to reach out to resources, talk with co-workers, or do more research. 

Minimize the effect of routine stuff - To build the available time to do important work, group all of the routine administration tasks of email, bills and scheduling into one end-of-the-day block.  Everything will still get done, but it won't soak up all of that crucial early morning energy.

If these tips help you concentrate on your major tasks, keep going.  You may be amazed at how much more you are accomplishing.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Monrovia, Calif.

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