“The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life.” Cal Newport.

While insisting on the principle of Deep Work, Cal Newport admits that there are many different ways to integrate it into your schedule. In his book, he outlines four approaches.

The Monastic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

This attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations. It usually involves lengthy periods (weeks and months) of isolation and disconnection from people and communications. They tend to have a well-defined and highly valued professional goal that they’re pursuing. The bulk of their professional success comes from doing this one thing exceptionally well. This clarity enables them to eliminate all the other shallow concerns that often overtake those who have more varied work.

The Bimodal Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

This asks that you divide your time by dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else. These workers admire the monks but also derive value from the shallow work they do.

During the deep sessions the bimodal worker will act monastically with intense and uninterrupted concentration, but during the shallow period they are not so focused. There are multiple ways to divide up time in this way (e.g. four days deep, one day shallow), but the minimum for achieving maximum cognitive intensity is at least one full day.

The Rhythmic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

This philosophy argues that the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a simple regular habit. The goal is to generate a rhythm that removes the need to decide when you’re going to go deep. It may be a commitment to enter the deep zone for the first two hours of each day, for example.

The routine makes sure that a little bit gets done every day, even though it fails to achieve the same intensity of deep work that the previous two approaches do. This is often the most realistic method for those in standard office jobs.

The Journalistic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

Those who follow this approach switch into deep work whenever time and opportunity arises. Newport admits this is not for novices as the ability to switch from shallow work to deep work does not come naturally nor easily. In fact, to me it seems to contradict everything he’s been advocating up to this point. However, for those with demanding schedules, it’s often the only way to get any kind of deep work done.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.