Deep work and automation

Today day felt busy. You answered emails, attended meetings, and completed a chunk of admin. But despite how hectic the day felt, you don’t feel like you’ve achieved anything.

You are not alone. It’s easy to fall into the trap of distractions, of busyness over productivity.

You’re looking to do something called deep work. That is, intense focus, where you’re challenged to think intensely about what you were doing. Tasks that create value for you and the business. But deep work is hard, and there are countless hurdles getting in the way of true productivity.

Fortunately, automation software can help you achieve more deep work, less distraction. Here’s how.

What is deep work?

First things first, what is deep work? According to Cal Newport (who coined the term in 2012), deep work is ‘professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration’. It ‘pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit’ and ‘these efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.’

In other words, the term ‘deep work’ refers to both what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it.

The ‘what’ of deep work relates to the specific tasks you complete. The work you’re completing must provide value to you and the business once completed. They need skill and understanding to complete, and as such, these tasks are hard to replicate.

The ‘how’ of deep work revolves around the need for focus on these high-value tasks. To work deeply, you need to engage with the activities that you’re working on, without distraction. That means no extra tabs, no cheeky social scrolling, and no email interruptions.

The antithesis of deep work

Another way to understand deep work — and why it’s so hard to achieve — is to look at its counterpart: shallow work. Shallow work eats away at your time and focus. But it doesn’t provide any new value. It’s comprised of the tasks, processes and activities that take very little thought.

Shallow tasks keep you busy — which can make you feel like you’re being productive. But by the end of the day, you realise that you’ve not created as much as value for your effort. You feel like you’ve wasted your time.

The problem is that many of the processes that make up shallow work still need completing. You can’t just ignore your day to day admin or that email from your supervisor. But shallow emails, internal messaging and face to face chatting all serve to distract and take time away from your deeper tasks.

Shallow work and automation

It stands to reason that if you can reduce the distraction of shallow work, you’ll have more time to develop your focus and devote it to high-value tasks. And this is where automation software adds value.

Most shallow work is automatable. Remember, it’s the tasks and processes that don’t need much thought. They’re routine, repetitive. You can break them down into step-by-step rules. And that means they’re prime targets for automation.

For example, your automation tool can parse, organise, and respond to your emails for you. It can extract data from a plethora of sources and load it to the correct place. It can process documents, maintain your databases, and help manage tickets. In short, if it’s routine, you can automate it.

Enabling deep work

When you have automation set up to take on your distracting shallow work, it opens the opportunity for deep work.

Without the distraction of important, low-value work, you can work on the high-value tasks — the ones that demand your thought and expertise. Over time, you can start to improve your focus, and discipline yourself to work deeply.

Ready to start your journey to deep work? Get distracting shallow work out of your way, with a 30-day free trial of ThinkAutomation.

Useful links

15 skills that will never be automatable

Using ThinkAutomation as an ETL tool

ThinkAutomation free trial