Deep Work happens when I am highly focused and productive on a task to be solved. It usually spans for a long period with no interuption. In contrast, I would describe Shallow Work as distractive and unproductive working condition. It involves a lot of context switching, for example, reading/replying email or messages in the middle of your creative work.
Why Deep Work? Because it allows me to produce high-quality work in a relatively short time and in a peaceful way.
To achieve that, I want to reduce context switching and focus myself on one task at a time:
- Work in a private space.
- Silence my cell phone and put it away.
- Disable system notification popups, unread message counter and annoying red dots on my app icons.
- Close all apps which are not required to complete my work.
- Maximize the app/program that is related to my work.
Once I finished the task, then I go back to check emails and messages that I need to reply to. After that, it's important to take some rest. I usually go out for a 20-minute short walk, if that's not practical, at least keep away from your computer and walk around a bit.
In general, there are two sources that improves productivity in Engineering: tooling and architectual design. Effective tooling for software development can only make an Engineer 2 to 3 times more productive than the average. When we talk about 10x Engineer, we are most likely referring to the productivity gains from making right architectual decisions. From a business perspective, it could literally save months or even years of work.
The maximum productivity of an Engineer is in reverse ratio to the size of the company. We all know that the more people a company has, the harder people from different teams can communicate with each other. Therefore, large companies tend to be much slower in delivering features than nimble startups. However, is individual engineers being unproductive at work a bad thing for a big company? Probably not as bas as you think. Big companies value predicability more than productivity because they want predictable business outcome and avoid mistakes in expense of productivity.