Going deep: Our approach to taking on Deep Work

How to do more with less? Or rather, how can you create valuable work with less resources but also less burnout, stress and distractions?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. So has Cal Newport (author of ‘Deep Work’ and ‘Slow Productivity’). So I stole some of his ideas.

Here are a few of them we’ve been using at Wavetable. They’ve already had a big positive impact on both our effectiveness and wellbeing.


  • If a remote team (vs. in person or hybrid), being structured is critical. This can be freeing rather than a millstone
  • Be ‘Pull’ not ‘Push’, i.e. each person pulls items from a list vs. being pushed them (and often randomly) by someone else


  • Each person focuses only on their ‘Active’ items. Everything else is then in a queue/backlog
  • Day-to-day comms / meetings focus only on Active items (i.e. not the queue)
  • Aim to block email / Slack etc. each day during Deep Work periods of 2-4 hours (i.e. if the team have planned well, there should be very few messages that need immediate attention - if urgent, text or call them)


  • The queue either gets dealt with when an item becomes Active, or during planning (we do it every two weeks)
  • Block by time, not task
  • Plan your work in units of week, month, quarter (in our case we do Week, Sprint (2 weeks), Cycle (6 weeks))

If you have experience in product or engineering teams you’ve probably worked like this for a while. However, I get the strong sense it’s increasingly viable - and important - for all kinds of teams to use similar principles.

We’re using this across education design, content production and strategy work and it’s been wonderful.

Curious to learn more about our process and how you and your team can apply it? Get in touch...

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