At Glip we’re all about finding better ways to collaborate and communicate at work, so everyone can be more productive. We also understand that sometimes you need to tune out and focus on an important project.

But while remote workers don’t have to contend with water cooler conversations or cubicle drop-ins, other obligations can make it difficult to buckle down: video conferences, calls, texts, laundry, pets, kids, errands. The list goes on. So how can you get more done while working remotely?

“Deep Work:” Turning Off Distractions

In searching for an answer, we found Georgetown professor Cal Newport?s new book “Deep Work.” An author of several books about productivity and working styles, Newport explores what drives successful modern workers. All of the research points to one overriding conclusion: they know when to completely unplug and focus on the project at hand.

His simple advice for us is to eliminate daily, modern distractions so we too can benefit from that kind of deep? work. He outlines four basic working styles to tune out the noise, dive in, and be ultra-productive.


Like medieval monks sequestered for hours of silent study, monastic deep workers have no trouble closing their offices to visitors. They don’t answer email while they’re working, and they ignore team messaging apps and phone calls. Clearly, this style isn’t for everyone, but you can test it out by setting your status to do not disturb? and spending some time completely focused on a given project.


If you can’t lock yourself away like a monk, perhaps you can meet halfway on full concentration and communication. Bimodal deep workers create batches of work, separating easy tasks like meetings, email, and planning sessions from creative projects. You could test a few approaches, like setting one day per week for easier tasks, or even alternating sprint weeks with office task weeks.


If your job is naturally more collaborative, or if prompt response to messaging is part of your company culture, the first two styles probably invoked an involuntary eye roll.Instead, try setting aside a ?sacred? portion of the day in which you do nothing but concentrate on your most important work. Many people find this easier if they start their day early, when distractions are minimal. If you can commit to a couple of great hours of deep work each day (same time, same place), you’ll still reap the benefits.


The idea here is that a journalist is always working, but has limited time to actually write between interviews and research. That’s why you’ll see them typing madly in any spare moment — on the bus, during lunch or in a dash before the deadline. If your life is loaded with family and work obligations, try grabbing moments of deeper work time whenever you can. Those 20 minutes before dinner can be super productive if you turn off Netflix. This style may seem convenient, but it’s not recommended for easily distracted types.

If you’re not sure which style fits you best, Newport recommends starting with the rhythmic approach. Set aside a portion of your day to work without distractions, and gradually increase the minutes you spend on a task to build mental stamina. The more you practice working deeply, the more productive you’ll become.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at a few disastrous remote collaboration mistakes that can happen when you’ve surfaced from your deep work, and what you can do to avoid them.