Deep Work Series | Can deep work help neurodivergent people get more done?

Can deep work help neurodivergent people get more done?

Deep Dive

Deep work is something that sounds so appealing: calling to mind writers locking themselves away in log cabins, focussing solely on their craft without distraction. But in the IoT age and hyperconnectivity being queen, do we need an app for that? Probably.

Welcome to the second part in our Deep Work Series. If you need a refresher or a crash course into what deep work is, start with the first part in our series. In part two, we’re here to discuss the practical applications of the theory behind deep work and to speak to entrepreneur and tech boss Alicia Navarro. Navarro founded Flown, a deep work platform that allows professionals to connect and work deeply together, in 2019, before remote working was the norm. This prescient business sense is both commendable and, one would imagine, profitable; especially considering how hard it can be for neurodivergent people – particularly those with ADHD – to focus while working at home, solo.

Flown is a platform-as-a-service that engages people all over the world in deep work, connecting them with people they can talk to – and then be silent with – as they focus deeply on a specific task.

In part three of our series, a few of us on the Executive Grapevine team who have ADHD will be trialling Flown for a month to see how it helps our focus and productivity.

But for now, let’s dig into Navarro’s story and see what Flown has to offer employees, HR managers and C-level leaders in terms of deep, meaningful work.

I truly believe that what mindfulness and meditation were for the past decade, deep work and flow states will be for the next decade.

HRGV: Tell us a bit about you and how you got to the stage of founding Flown

Navarro: Sure. I grew up in Australia to Spanish and Cuban parents. We were very poor, but I always knew I wanted to be in tech, and I wanted to be a ‘businesswoman’ – that’s how I thought of my future when I was a child! I studied computer science and I was the first woman to do a computing science degree at my university. I’ve always worked at tech companies, predominantly in product management. I then founded Skimlinks, which began as a sort of Pinterest clone, but failed at that. I then pivoted and pivoted and eventually accidentally landed on what Skimlinks is now – something that is used by almost every major media company in the world [her clients include HuffPost, Hearst and Condé Naste].

After 11 years there, I handed over the reins and took a two-year sabbatical. I then got the itch to be a founder again, and unsurprisingly, the idea I kept coming back to was how hard it was to be able to focus and get work done in the physical spaces such as the office or co-working spaces (which I found awful). Or if I was working from home, I was lonely there were so many distractions. I was on a road trip and I discovered this book about deep work by Cal Newport.

[Here Alicia describes the book and what deep work is, but we’ve covered that in part one, so we’ll cut to the juicy bits of how Flown works and who it can help.]

HRGV: So how does Flown work? What’s it like?

Navarro: The way I like to describe it is that it's like Peloton, which is very successful – yes, they've got a bike, but what really made them a really great brand is that they have this collection of live and on-demand content experiences, led by these very compelling personalities that deliver results alongside a sense of accountability and community. So, my theory was well if that works for exercise, how do we bring that into how we work.

How Flown works is that they have a collection of facilitators or deep work coaches who lead these focus sessions – we call them Flocks – and there are a few different types that we offer. There’s the Morning Take-off, which is like a morning ritual where you meditate and set your goals for the day. All the way up to our deep dives, which is where you basically join and you set your intentions to a smaller group of professionals, then work in silence in the virtual company of people from all over the world and in all sorts of different professions.

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