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What Is Deep Work & What are its Advantages?

What is Deep Work?

Deep work is a concept that describes when you are completely present and immersed in the task you are doing. Many people call this as being in the zone. When you are in deep work, you are completely focused on doing a single activity. A study done in 2012 with 188 junior tennis players rated the participants on the perceived level of flow state during their match.(1) It was found that the group of winning athletes scored much higher on all but one of the nine flow dimensions. The results showed statistically important differences in the following:

What Is Deep Work & What are its Advantages?

  • Having clear and well-defined goals.
  • The balance between the level of challenge versus the skill set.
  • A sense of purpose and control.

Meanwhile, a research review from 2018 found that scientific literature found a positive relationship between flow and performance, along with scientific and artistic creativity.(2) Studies have shown that only about two percent of the population are able to actually do two cognitive tasks at the same time. This population is referred to as supertaskers.

To embrace the concept of deep work, it is necessary to give your total concentration to just one activity at a time instead of multitasking. This concept is known as monotasking. So simply put, deep work refers to any action that is performed in a state of distraction-free concentration. This type of state pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit, and these efforts help improve your skill, create new value, and are difficult to replicate.(3, 4)

The concept of deep work was given by Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University and a bestselling author. He has been a firm supporter of the ability to work on just one task with total concentration and how this is a valuable and rare skill, but one that can give you a major edge in life.

Some of the examples of deep work include:

  • Analyzing complicated data
  • Writing a book
  • Learning how to code
  • Developing a business strategy
  • Reading a difficult research paper or writing one

Why Does Multitasking Not Work?

As a generation of people who have grown up managing several things at one time, we are all about multitasking. However, most of the time, when we believe we are multitasking, what we are really doing is task switching.

According to a research review carried out in 2019 and published in Cerebrum in 2019, the human brain does not have the cognitive and neural building blocks that are required to perform two tasks at once.(5) This research review found that multitasking actually makes it more likely for competing streams of useless or irrelevant information to grab your attention, which results in a disruption in your work, performance, and also an increase in errors.

The constant jumping between one task to the other actually decreases our ability to focus deeply, and at the same time, it also increases the feelings of stress and being overwhelmed.

It is a misconception we have that we are getting tons of work done, but switching between tasks actually disrupts our productivity and can eventually lead to burnout.

To put it mildly, multitasking can result in:

  • Increased errors
  • Performance disruption
  • Frequent distractions
  • Reduced attention span
  • Stress and feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Reduced productivity
  • Reduced creativity

On the other hand, mono-tasking actually encourages us to be focused and present in one place at one time, giving all our attention to the one task we are doing and making it easier to enter a state of deep work.(6, 7, 8)

Advantages of Deep Work

There are many advantages of deep work, and you will find yourself having more fun while performing better at everything. You will not only be more productive but also make fewer mistakes while making connections that you might not even think of when you are in a distracted state of multitasking. Here are some of the main advantages of deep work.

  • There Are No Distractions, So You Can Be More Productive: When you are in a state of deep work, you are able to focus on your work without any unnecessary and unimportant distractions. For example, checking emails and messages are one of the biggest time wasters today for any average person. By turning off your notifications to stop these interruptions, you allow your brain to only focus on your work.
  • Deep Work Gives You Time To Think: When we allow all sorts of distractions to enter our life, there is often little to no time left for thinking. Thinking is the most important ingredient for producing top-quality work. When you are practicing deep work, you give yourself some time every day to let yourself think clearly, while delivering better quality work at the same time.
  • You Feel More Fulfilled: When you work uninterruptedly and give your time to finish important work, you feel more fulfilled and satisfied. This happens because you are able to complete your important work and also reduce the amount of time you spend doing unimportant things.
  • Lesser Mistakes: While multitasking, you are constantly distracted from the actual work at hand. This increases the likelihood of making more mistakes. When you are deep working, you let yourself remain focused on one task only, and you make fewer mistakes as a result of this. You also don’t have to stop and restart one work, which increases the chances of making mistakes.
  • Lesser Time To Complete Work: When you make fewer mistakes, you automatically spend lesser time doing the work and having to revise. This leaves you more time to not only do quality work but also finish your work faster because deep work enables you to remain completely focused on your work. Just spending two hours each day focused on doing the work that really matters will significantly improve your output. This will also make it easy for you to meet your deadlines.
  • Feeling Less Stressed: You start to feel less stressed when you know that you have focused time without any interruptions to complete your work. You know that you will be able to complete your work before the deadline and less stress due to deep work.

How to Practice Deep Work to Increase Productivity and Lower Stress?

If you are someone who is always attempting to complete several tasks at one time, having to just focus on one task might feel like a huge challenge. Here are some tips on how to practice deep work to become more productive and less stressed.

  1. Get Rid Of Distractions

    Distractions are the biggest problem in one’s life. They will pull away your focus from the task at hand. It is possible to avoid most distractions with a few attempts and by staying strong. For example, to begin with, close your email application so that you don’t automatically get distracted by the notification of a new mail. It is often too tempting to check who the mail is from and what it’s about. Also, keep your phone on silent or on airplane mode and keep it in a drawer where you won’t see it. Let the people close to you know that you are busy concentrating on a task, and ask them politely not to disturb you.

  2. Try Binaural Beats

    There are certain frequencies of binaural beats that help increase concentration and focus.(9, 10) Binaural beats can also help improve your memory.(11) Try putting on your headphones and listening to these beats to get into the deep work zone.

    A binaural beat is made up of two tones that are of different frequencies, which are known to change brain wave activity.(12)

    Even though there is limited research on the link between concentration and binaural links, it will still help you eliminate outside distractions, helping you focus better. Binaural tracks can be found easily on YouTube and any streaming platform.

  3. Make Mono-tasking A Habit

    Mono-tasking can help you be more productive and less stressed, and by practicing it every day, you can easily transform it into a habit.

    It is important to remember that nearly everything in the world today is designed to grab our attention. We are tricked into believing that we are multitasking by focusing on our various devices and technology, whereas the truth is far from it. This onslaught of technology is actually very harmful to our attention span. It is necessary to counterbalance the onslaught of attention-grabbing technology with a habit that helps rebuild your attention span. Focusing on only one task can help rebuild the ability to focus and pay attention.(13) For example, reading for just 15 to 20 minutes every day is a simple place to start. Try reaching out for a book in the morning instead of grabbing your phone the moment you open your eyes.


Many times we focus on multitasking and mistakenly believe we are being productive. However, focusing completely on one single task can help make you more engaged, productive, present, and less stressed. Regularly practicing getting into a state of deep work can take some time and practice, but by making healthy changes like reducing distractions, planning ahead, listening to binaural beats to increase your concentration, meditation, and other such activities, it is possible to make it a regular habit that helps you get involved more deeply with every aspect of your life, not just work.


  1. Koehn, S. and Morris, T., 2012. The relationship between performance and flow state in tennis competition. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 52(4), pp.437-447.
  2. Šimleša, M., Guegan, J., Blanchard, E., Tarpin-Bernard, F. and Buisine, S., 2018. The flow engine framework: A cognitive model of optimal human experience. Europe’s journal of psychology, 14(1), p.232.
  3. Newport, C., 2016. Deep work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world. Hachette UK.
  4. Lin, H.W., Tegmark, M. and Rolnick, D., 2017. Why does deep and cheap learning work so well?. Journal of Statistical Physics, 168(6), pp.1223-1247.
  5. Madore, K.P. and Wagner, A.D., 2019, March. Multicosts of multitasking. In Cerebrum: the dana forum on brain science (Vol. 2019). Dana Foundation.
  6. Salvucci, D.D. and Bogunovich, P., 2010, April. Multitasking and monotasking: The effects of mental workload on deferred task interruptions. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 85-88).
  7. Lascau, L., Gould, S.J., Cox, A.L., Karmannaya, E. and Brumby, D.P., 2019, May. Monotasking or multitasking: Designing for crowdworkers’ preferences. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-14).
  8. Bachmann, O., Grunschel, C. and Fries, S., 2019. Multitasking and feeling good? Autonomy of additional activities predicts affect. Journal of Happiness Studies, 20(3), pp.899-918.
  9. Colzato, L.S., Barone, H., Sellaro, R. and Hommel, B., 2017. More attentional focusing through binaural beats: Evidence from the global–local task. Psychological research, 81(1), pp.271-277.
  10. Park, J., Kwon, H., Kang, S. and Lee, Y., 2018, October. The effect of binaural beat-based audiovisual stimulation on brain waves and concentration. In 2018 International Conference on Information and Communication Technology Convergence (ICTC) (pp. 420-423). IEEE.
  11. Kraus, J. and Porubanová, M., 2015. The effect of binaural beats on working memory capacity. Studia psychologica, 57(2), p.135.
  12. Puzi, N.M., Jailani, R., Norhazman, H. and Zaini, N.M., 2013, March. Alpha and Beta brainwave characteristics to binaural beat treatment. In 2013 IEEE 9th International Colloquium on Signal Processing and its Applications (pp. 344-348). IEEE.
  13. Taft, M., Why Your Brain Hates Multitasking.
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 3, 2022

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