New Work – Deep Work – Works?

My premise at PLANWORX is to rethink, plan ahead, scrutinize. This also includes constantly evaluating new processes and tools and further advancing our “New Work” aspirations.

In our industry, multitasking is what counts. What it takes: Flexible, quick reactions to different requirements, problem-solving off the cuff, always fulfilling the role of service-provider and consultant for 100% – plus that certain X-factor! But our path as a strategic partner does not forego content, creativity and maximum innovation.

How can we unify these requirements? How do we access the potential that lies within us to deliver the best possible results? There is a seemingly simple solution for this. It’s called Deep Work. Concentrated work, without distractions, in a protected space.

“Cool!” we thought, “Deep Work”, sounds good and fully taps into our New Work approach. Fitting, isn’t it?

In order to understand the system behind this, I read a very theoretical book: “Concentrated Work: Rules for a World of Distractions” by Cal Newport. One feels caught even on the first few pages of reading, while briefly checking your e-mails and answering the phone again in parallel. Oh dear, you’re in “shallow work” mode again. It quickly becomes clear that there is a lot of truth behind it. We are somehow doomed to work superficially. Simply unable to sustain long periods of concentration. But that’s exactly what we need, also and especially in our job, isn’t it?

After I had everything sorted, it was time to develop “PX guidelines”. Which system of Deep Work suits us, how can we integrate it into our everyday life?

We have chosen the rhythmic methodology. We planned to integrate two days a week for two hours each time we wanted to invite to “Deep Work”. Not a must, but an option. For this, we blocked out our largest meeting room and followed all the rules the book recommends.

The initial response was great. Everyone was up for trying and being there. No longer just working in a concentrated manner in the home office, but also in the office – and quite officially. The first tests were sobering. “No time after all, customer calls, meetings, …” – something always came up. And above all, there was the question: what is my specific goal in the sessions, what do I want to achieve? Because without a clear goal within Deep Work, Deep Work makes no sense.

Mission Failed? Yes – and no!

Deep Work is exhausting, it takes practice, and discipline. Once you get into it – after the first few draining attempts – it no longer hurts, but actually starts to be fun. At least looking back at the results, the takeaways, and if there is a goal to aim for.

However, it was not compatible with our everyday agency life. The meeting room is free again for creative brainstorming, workshops and team meetings. And those who feel the need for Deep Work can claim it at any time, find a place of retreat and dive deep. Now we know how it works.

And what’s next?

Standing still is not an option for PLANWORX. We are currently trying out a first test pilot for self-organized team management without a defined team leader. Independent project distribution, capa planning, vacation management. Whether this works? We’ll find out – and tell you about it!