The Deep Work Approach

Many people love to absorb themselves in doing deep work. One approach they take is to focus on the following themes.


They feel driven to do a certain activity and decide to work towards achieving a specific goal.

Deep Work

They follow certain disciplines and absorb themselves completely in the activity to do deep work.


They continue to do their best and find solutions to challenges on the way towards achieving their goal.

Different people do different things to take such steps. One approach they have in common, however, is to set aside time to go through a process of absorption, adventure and achievement.

Cal Newport’s book Deep Work helped many people to take this approach. Here is an extract from his book that shows the benefits of doing such work.

Imagine that you want to follow elements of this approach. This can involve focusing on the following themes.


Looking at your own life, what are the specific activities you feel driven to do? What are those that give you positive energy? Or, as the Gallup Organization says when helping a person to find their strengths:

What are the things you cannot help but do?

Different people give different answers to these questions. Here are things that some of the mentees I have worked with mentioned when exploring this topic.

I feel driven:

To encourage people … To help people to find positive ways to manage pain … To make films about fixing old Land Rovers … To teach people how to write best selling pop music … To show people how they can use technology to simplify their lives.

Great workers often build what they feel driven to do. They then make some decisions by exploring the following questions.

How can I translate this drive into doing a piece of work? What are the real results I want to achieve? What are the key strategies I can follow to achieve the picture of success?

Imagine that you have focused on something you feel driven to do and set a specific goal. It may then be time to move on to the next stage.

Deep Work

People who do such work sometimes have a certain history. Some grew up in environments where they were given the opportunity to take the following steps.

Such individuals absorbed themselves in deep play. They got used to pursuing a passion, following certain principles and achieving positive results.

Some then focused on deep learning and explored the things they found fascinating. This sometimes involved gathering experience, making sense of experience and applying these lessons in their lives.

These experiences provided a good grounding. They got into the habit of following their own rhythm and then following certain disciplines when doing a piece of work.

Some individuals also follow certain rituals. They may slow down, go for a walk or rehearse what they are going to do next. They then click into action and absorb themselves in doing the work.

Such workers aim to be fully present. One approach is for them to prepare properly. It is then to have a positive attitude, follow their chosen principles and do their best to achieve the picture of success. One person expressed this in the following way.

“Some people say that I work hard but I see it differently. I feel driven to do something and love following certain disciplines.

This often involves responding to what is happening, finding solutions and doing deep work. This is enjoyable and does not feel like hard work.”

Imagine that you are following elements of this approach and doing deep work. It can then be time to move on to the next stage.


People who do deep work love to achieve their aims. As Maria Montessori said, however, this sometimes means satisfying both an inner goal and an outer goal. One writer expressed this in the following way.

“I keep writing until the piece feels finished. I need to feel this in my gut. It needs to look right, sound right and feel right. I am then ready to publish the piece and share it with people.”

You will have your own approach to finishing properly. Sometimes this involves continuing to do your best and finding solutions to challenges on the way towards achieving your goal.

Different people do this in different ways. One approach is to aim to go into a state of flow. It is then to focus, do fine work, finish and, as a by-product, find fulfilment.

Let’s return to your own work. Looking ahead, can you think of a specific activity where you want to follow elements of the deep work approach? How can you do this in your own way? Here is an exercise on this theme.

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