6 ways to protect ultra-valuable Deep Work time

When we eliminate unnecessary meetings and distractions, we open time for truly focused productivity and complex problem-solving. These six best practices empower teams to engage in critical Deep Work time.
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1. Make It Official

Give your team members freedom to control their calendars by blocking daily or weekly hours for Deep Work—and respect that quiet time, unless something mission-critical arises. Use Uplevel to analyze your team’s calendars for the most optimal time to schedule deep work sessions. 

2. Make it a Team Sport

Making Deep Work a group activity makes it way more powerful. The social pressure is real and can make it fun too. And if everyone on the team is in Deep Work, you reduce the risk of getting interrupted by your team and losing your flow. 

3. Rest and Refuel

While we can focus more deeply without interruptions, we still need occasional breaks. Our sweet spot is a 3-hour working session with a 15-minute breather in the middle. Stretch those legs, look at the sky, and crush that LaCroix.

4. Have a Signal

Let coworkers know you’re in Deep Work mode by setting up a cue that says “let me focus!” Try noise-cancelling headphones, a whiteboard message, even a silly hat—whatever communicates your need for uninterrupted time. One powerful and easy signal to use is muting your messaging notifications—some tools, like Slack, will let other users know that you are in DND mode. Close your email and set an auto-responder to let others know you’ll get back to them in a few hours.  

5. Create Space

Open office environments make us all targets for shoulder taps (“Quick question…”) and nearby conversations. Support your team by finding a Deep Work zone, like a spare conference room or the post-lunch quiet hours at the kitchen tables.

6. Ritualize It

Many engineering teams have routine meetings, like daily stand-ups, planning meetings, and retros. Scheduling regular Deep Work time can (and should) follow suit, whether it occurs every day at 10am, or during the same three afternoons every week.

For more Deep Work recommendations, check out Deep Work by Cal Newport.

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