Energy Through Deep Work

A couple weeks ago I introduced the book Deep Work and my inspiration to greatly limit the amount of time spent each day on Instagram, on a quest to eliminate mindless, unsatisfying, time wasting scrolling. I’m happy to report that after just a few days of not checking IG during the workday, the unconscious habit to do so left me. The temptation was there, but it was not accompanied by a desire. 

One of the coolest side effects of removing the unconscious time on IG from my day-to-day, as well as several other strategies from the book such as turning off Slack during deep work time and only checking email twice per day, is having much more energy at the end of the workday. Energy is something I struggle with, and has been a struggle ever since I was a teenager and anemia set it. I’m no longer anemic, but my desire to accomplish has never matched my energy level. There is so much I want to do in any given day, and my body and mind seem incapable of accommodating it all, especially when work is particularly intense. 

My focus as of late is on sustainability. I don’t want to pack my day to the gills. What I want is to feel productive, calm, and satisfied. I want to fill my time and use my energy for things that I truly enjoy. 

Though Deep Work is about achieving professionally, I’ve actually found that a day spent in focused action leaves a lot more energy at the end of the day to be present in other things that I love besides work. It might sound counterintuitive, but deep work is energizing. Distraction is draining. 

Don’t get me wrong, after even an hour of deep work, my brain needs time with more mundane tasks to “recover,” similar to an intense physical workout. However, the recovery feels quicker to me when I’m using my time consciously and deliberately, versus a day filled with procrastinating and swinging wildly from one task to the other. 

When I started the deep work journey, I also asked myself what I wanted to see more of in my evenings, and consequently less of. In the more of category was writing and painting. In the less of, TV. If I can limit my time on IG during the workday, can I be more deliberate about my time when I’m not working? How would that feel? 

As a commitment to Wellness Wednesday posts, every Tuesday evening is reserved for writing. Painting is an activity that brings me a huge amount of joy, yet I rarely make time for it. Now, I schedule painting dates with myself at least once per week, and I have a painting on the go that I’m really excited about. After an evening spent writing for my blog, or painting for pleasure, I feel more energized and less tired than an evening spent zoned out on the couch. 

Time spent on the activities we love and with the people we love gives us energy. It takes time to break habits though. I still procrastinate to sit down and write, or pull out my paints. But once I get going, I quickly get in the flow and I’m loving it. I feel confident that as I continue to build this pleasure muscle, the draw of zoning out will fade just like the draw of IG has. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever do those things. It just means that I choose to do them consciously, rather than them choosing me. Consequently, I make more time for the things that feel the most joyful and satisfying. 

I’m curious what is resonating for you here, and what questions are coming up. Let me know in the comments below.

In my continued quest to live a more satisfying and sustainable life, and to help others do the same, the next book I’m diving into is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. I’m excited to report back on my findings. 

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