[Warning: If you are interested in a calm, comfortable life, this blog will be counterproductive for you.]

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Took A Deep Dive & Came Up With A New Book

I haven't posted in a little while. Sorry about that. I couldn't post, though. I took a deep dive this week. No, unfortunately that didn't include any scuba gear--or even water.

I picked a large project and dedicated a big chunk of time only to that. No distractions. No multi-tasking. I did a deep dive into something that really matters to me.

And I made huge progress.

It's far too easy in our always-connected world to put off doing what's truly important and spend the day responding to the more urgent, but less important things. We can get so caught up in what Steven Covey called the tyranny of the urgent that we let the important things slide.

That great new idea for making your work project better, but haven't had time to write it all down. That special trip with your family that you just haven't gotten around to planning yet. Or scheduling in the time to grow yourself and not just keep working...none of them are due today. None of them are jumping in your face.

Not like the hundreds of beeps, dings, rings, and daily tasks that come at us all day long. Those are demanding. And it's a lot easier to just deal with them--to respond. It's hard to ignore all that noise and stay focused on the important, but not urgent things.

I'm not anti-technology. I had a conversation last night with a friend of mine who has family in Egypt. Our ability to talk, even video chat, all over the world at any time of the day is amazing. It's a real blessing. And I run my life with electronic calendars and to-do lists. I think it's a great way to live.

But if you want to take your productivity to the maximum level, you have to set aside time for a deep dive. Peter Drucker said that real thinking work requires at least ninety minutes and at best three to four hour chunks of time. No distractions. No interruptions. Serious chunks of time focused on really important things.

I've found that I can get more done in a three hour deep dive than I can in ten thirty-minute windows. But you don't have to stop at three hours. This week I dove deeper than I ever have, curious to see if it would work.

I took four days off and went to a secluded lake house a mentor of mine graciously let me use. I brought groceries, turned off my cell phone, and for fifteen hours a day worked on my second book. I came in with only an outline and left with a finished rough draft. I didn't leave the house for four days, didn't read a book, didn't turn on the TV...I only ate, exercised, slept, and wrote (and I only wrote the book--obviously no blogging).

I've never dedicated that much time to only one project. And I've never made that much progress so fast. It took me four years to finish my first book, writing in 30 minute chunks in the mornings. I've got a lot of editing to do, so I'm not done yet. But this ultra-deep dive accomplished what could have taken me over a year to do, if I'd have only picked away at it like before.

What are the important things in your life you've been putting off? When can you dedicate 90 minutes to it? Three hours? Is there something so crucial that you'd give it three days? What are you waiting for?

Dive deep, and who know what you might find?


  1. That's really cool, Scott! That's a huge accomplishment in just 4 days. Looking forward to hearing more.

    1. Thanks! I'd done a lot of prep work, coming up with teaching points & plot overviews (it's a leadership fable). And with all that lined up I spent about 15 hours a day just writing. I wondered if I'd be able to stay focused that long, but turns out I not only could do it--I loved it.

  2. Way to go Sir! Hope the rest comes together nicely for you.

    1. Thanks! I'll keep you informed as I move from rough draft to something more polished (or at least without typos).