When you don’t have time for deep work


Schedule large blocks of time for deep work, we’re told. An hour or 90 minutes a day to work on our most important projects and do things that require focus and concentration.

But our work doesn’t always allow us to schedule large blocks of time. Not consistently, anyway. Our days are often fragmented with appointments and calls and other work that needs to be done as and when it needs to be done.

The good news is that you can get a lot of work done in the spaces between calls and appointments.

Throughout the day, as you go from one task to another, there are many unused chunks of time. We often waste that time, telling ourselves there isn’t enough of it to do something meaningful.

Sure, you need breaks. Time to clear your mind, think, or get another cuppa. But don’t assume you can’t also do something valuable when you only have a few minutes.

You’ve got ten minutes until the next appointment? Make a few calls and leave messages (since most people don’t pick up these days). Write the first draft of an important email, or bang out one or two-word replies to several emails. Highlight key paragraphs in a pdf or organize your notes from a recent meeting.

You’ve got five minutes? How about brainstorming a few ideas for your next article or post, or doing a quick edit of your last one?

In five minutes, you might review a file you haven’t looked at in a while and dictate instructions to your staff. Check your email and clear out the spam. Or skim a few saved articles and decide which ones to read next, when you have another five minutes.

Five minutes here, ten minutes there, and you might get a lot done. Maybe enough to let you block out time for deep work.