Deep Work

When I train new entrepreneurs, I use the term “deep practice” to explain how to master skills such as Search Engine Optimization, building a simple website, or keep simple financial tracking mechanisms. I first used this term when teaching academic skills. The idea is to do something slowly with an effort to understand, rather than engage in shallow busy work.  
“Just really understand one premise of SEO”, I tell our new business owner clients who have been overwhelmed by scanning dozens of articles and books.
Even better, do “deep work.”  While I’m not sure Cal Newport coined the phrase, he has written a brilliant book on the subject.  Deep work involves spending time away from all distraction in order to focus on the most important creative challenges of your work world.
Terry, a small business owner in Clinton, Connecticut, explained his day: “I put out fire after fire. I respond to customer and employee needs.  Then, the day is over. I never get to work on building the business to the next stage.” 
I fully understand Terry’s challenges.  When I first started building The Learning Consultants, I began the day highly focused on doing the same. I then realized that I had to get control of my day to day so that I could build my career rather than simply react to the demands of others.
In relation to building Career Counseling Connecticut and writing Career Path of Abundance, I needed time to think. I decided to blend my love of walking with my need for reflection. I am fortunate to have expansive woods behind our house in Old Saybrook and to have an office close enough to the water in Madison.  I would walk either in the woods or near the shoreline a couple times per week.  
Sure, large chunks of the time were simply spent enjoying walking outdoors – that’s good in and of itself – but I noticed that I almost always had my best ideas while I was in the “deep work” of walking and thinking. 
I’ll say the same in relation to our career counseling clients. While most have superficially thought about changing careers, most have not done the deep work required to really change. Career counseling meetings are that deep work and what has made all the difference for many.