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How many hours of deep work can you do per day?

David Sherry
3 min read
How many hours of deep work can you do per day?

It seems like many people WANT to do deep work but they get frustrated.

Maybe you have a new job, a new opportunity, or something you want to accomplish but sitting down to focus and not get distracted by the internet is hard.

Plus, if you're working from home... it's so easy to start cleaning... get some snacks from the fridge or take out the trash. I'm guilty of eating Seasnax and almonds or chewing 5x pieces of gum during the day as a reflection of that impulse.

I don't know if we can fully conquer distraction, but we can still have some distraction AND get our meaningful work done.

So, I wanted to share how I do ~3-4.5 hours of deep work per day with a new schedule I'm playing with.

One that leaves a lot of time in between for that type of misc. stuff. while also getting what's most important done.

Here's how to start:

I break my day up into 1.5-hour chunks.

Three of them, specifically. Each chunk is for one important area that you're focusing on. These could be areas of one project or business, or 3 completely different areas.

For me right now, the core areas of focus are creative work, working "on" the business (not in it), and then continued learning.

This leaves out all client calls (which take substantial time), admin (which is largely not worth much), and general things that fill in throughout the day like sand.

Note: This also leaves out working out and other health-related focuses I have! I workout 5x per week typically mid-day sometime.

Here are some example activities that could fit into these buckets:

Then, I simply place these 1.5 hour chunks throughout the day.

What's great about this system is I can take breaks in between for admin or other tasks that feel like lighter work.

I can be distracted, and it doesn't disrupt me getting work done as long as during these "sprints" I stay focused. I use a timer, so I literally work just for that time then typically stop, but am not distracted during then.

A schedule could look something like:

  • 8-9:30 DEEP WORK sprint 1
  • Misc. work + break.
  • 11 to 12:30 DEEP WORK sprint 2
  • Misc. work + lunch break.
  • Calls etc.
  • 3-4:30 DEEP WORK OR
  • 6-7:30 DEEP WORK sprint 2

The benefits of this system have been:

  • I can lean into the enjoyment of variety.
  • I focus on continual learning + development every day.
  • Every important area is moved forward one step per day.
  • I still have lots of time in between sessions! Spacing them out allows me to modulate between deep and lighter admin work.

The key is to really only stick to each area per day and fill in what you want to do under that bucket or core activity.

It helps to track and check off the list if you did your full 1.5 hours per day or not.

I would even recommend just starting with only 1 sprint per day for 1.5 hours. Start small, and get successful with 1, then add the 2nd, then the 3rd.

What about aligning with my goals?

Instead of using areas of focus, you could also put goals, and then just work on the next most important step for that goal.

Last, rituals can help. I like starting my first sprint with a bit of journaling and some Matcha tea!

Anyways, so that's my latest system.

I'm curious what works well for you, or if you think that this would work better for you why/why not.

Have an amazing day,

xx David