Jennifer Coffey

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Time to Put Deep Work to the Test

What is a White Paper?

According to the Merriam-Webster, “a white paper is an authoritative report that gives information or proposals on an issue.” The purpose of the white paper, according to MediaSpace Solutions, is “to advocate that a certain position is the best way to go or that a certain solution is best for a particular problem. When it is used for commercial purposes, it could influence the decision-making process of current and prospective customers.” In my case, I am writing a white paper to propose information about my experience with deep work and how I can take what I have learned and apply it in real life. 

This week I am going to be documenting my process of writing this white paper about deep work.

– finish white paper draft
– work on the project a little bit every day
– smartphonesocial media
– games
– Internet

My Daily Progress

On the first day of working, I decided to outline what I wanted to write. I was not very detailed in my approach, and that would make my life a lot harder later. I made a list of the topics that I wanted to talk about and in what order. Since it was already very late when I got home from work, I decided to call it a day and start fresh the next day.

The second day of writing was not very productive. I was struggling to find a thesis statement, and I kept going back and forth on what I wanted my topic to be. I finally decided to start writing and to get my mind into a flow state of writing. After spending a couple of hours at my computer, I decided that I didn’t like anything I was writing. I decided to scrap what I was writing and start fresh the next day. 

Since I was struggling, I decided to look back at my sources to see if I could find some inspiration on what to make my paper about. After looking over some annotations, I started to form a thesis that I liked on day three. While I was writing, I found a lot of holes, and I was repeating the same point over and over again. Yet again, I scrapped what I was writing, but this time I decided to keep the work that I did in a separate document. I liked some of the passages that I had written, and I wanted to save them for later. 

Day four, Thursday, I decided to make a new outline on a broader topic. I realized that my approach to this paper was too personal, and I needed to think broader. I expanded my topic to deep work in the workplace. I am still not happy with this topic because I find it unoriginal. I was trying to find a different perspective, but deep work is about doing professional valuable, meaningful, and rare work, so the topic is appropriate. 

This was the first time I was confident, but then it was shattered by the realization that I was very far behind on my progress. I started to become very stressed because I had been working crazy hours, and I was not spending enough time on this assignment. It became tough for me to balance my writing, work, and home responsibilities. The apartment became a mess, and it still is, but I made a list of things that I needed to accomplish the next day, and I was holding myself to a strict schedule. 

Day five was my most productive day. I had the day off, and I worked for six hours straight. I managed to write six pages while I visited a local library. I tribute my success to putting myself in a location that allowed me to do deep work and my ability to resist temptation like my smartphone and email. 

I needed to make sure that I got as much writing done as possible to make my weekend easier. I was working 16 hours this weekend, and I needed to be able to come home and write immediately. 

Day six was another productive day. When I got home from work, I did a couple of house duties to allow myself to relax and get into the right mindset to write. I put myself in my guest bedroom, sat on the floor, (I don’t have a desk, and I was afraid to do work on the bed due to my quick ability to fall asleep), and I started writing. I was able to write another four full pages. Due to my mental exhaustion, I knew I wouldn’t be able to write much more. I decided to stop for the night and check my progress. I liked what I had written for a rough draft and decided to edit my work the next day. I was wary of this decision because I was working until six o’clock, and the rough draft was due at midnight. 

Day seven. The infamous day seven. I went to go work on my paper before my shift at work to find that it was no longer where I saved it. After spending more of the day on hold, I could no longer locate the missing file. I was absolutely devastated. Even Microsoft and Apple couldn’t find the file. I don’t think I will ever know what happened to my paper, but I do know one thing. It is now time to put deep work to the test and rewrite this paper. 

What I Learned Along the Way

I learned a couple of things during this process. 

The first thing I learned was that life is not always going to go according to plan. I didn’t realize how lucky I was in undergrad to be able to write a paper in the first draft. I couldn’t remember the last time I had entirely rewritten an essay. 

After all that rewriting, I am going to have to do it all over again. This time at least I know what I am talking about, and I should have a smoother writing process. 

The second thing I learned about myself was that I didn’t feel an urge to check my phone while I was writing (on my productive days and unproductive days). I was pleased with this realization, and it gave me hope that I won’t be distracted when I am writing other papers in the future. Like I have said in my other posts, my goal is to quit social media very soon. I feel like this was a huge test for myself, and, in a way, I feel like I passed. 

Now, with my current progress on this paper, there is absolutely zero time to play around on social media. It is the last thing on my mind, and hopefully, it will stay like that. 


White Paper. (n.d.). Retrieved from paper.

Xiong, A. (n.d.). The Importance and Use of White Papers. Retrieved from

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