Topic 2 | Working Independently Without Supervision

When you are remote working, you are not under constant surveillance by your supervisor. You can work independently, so you have to manage your distractions without supervision.

Understanding Deep Work and Shallow Work

There are times that we can work effectively and deliver satisfactory work in a few hours, but there are lag times that we are unproductive the whole day. In Cal Newport’s book, he defines that Deep Work is when you maximize your critical thinking skills at work undistractedly. While Shallow Work is mundane tasks that you can accomplish with minimal effort.

For example, Deep Work can be referred to as brainstorming for a new marketing campaign or generating concepts for a product launch. Meanwhile, Shallow Work are simple tasks such as checking your email or reviewing your tasks.

The key to mastery to practice deep and shallow work is by repetition. Once you learn to harmonize these at work you will develop a “Flow” where you train yourself to focus on a task to achieve a quality outcome. If you can exploit these skills it will significantly make you stand out among other professionals.


The State of Flow

According to Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi’s book, there are 10 components of flow:

  1. Setting realistic and clear goals
  2. Improved concentration
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness
  4. Distorted sense of time, one’s sense of time is altered
  5. Direct and immediate feedback
  6. A balance between ability level and challenge: the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult.
  7. A sense of control over the situation or activity
  8. Intrinsically rewarding, so there is effortlessness of action
  9. A lack of awareness of bodily needs (to the extent that one can reach a point of great hunger or fatigue without realizing it)
  10. Complete focus and absorption into the activity


To apply flow in your remote work, you can use either of these two scheduling methods:

Rhythmic philosophy is similar to a habitual routine. You can schedule a deep work on a specific time of the day when you are most effective and do shallow work in your idle time. On the other hand, Journalistic philosophy is for remote workers with erratic or unpredictable schedules. These are applicable for remote work that is on-call or client-driven work such as receiving calls for technical support or writing an immediate article for newsworthy events. In summary, you need to have a dedicated workspace, schedule your workload in a structural and disciplined manner, or you can apply the Pomodoro method to practice deep work.


Importance of Rest

It is advisable to rest in between completed tasks (as suggested to the Pomodoro method) to allow us to function properly for your next tasks. Additionally, this prevents you from burning out at work.

Taking short breaks (such as taking a nap or cuddling your pets) is a healthy practice to find Eureka moments. However, be mindful of distractions that may affect your working routine.

Here are some key tips to practice deep work and flow effectively:

  1. Avoid distractions
  2. Get quality sleep
  3. Practice healthy diet
  4. Multitask responsively and avoid micromanagement. There are some drawbacks in inefficient switching of tasks such as:
    • reduced productivity at work
    • quantity over quality (compromised output)
    • prone to mistakes (repetition of tasks)

Overall, deep work and flow can be achieved through practice and experience and take some time to find what best works for you.