Focusing On Deep Work

Every year, I read Cal Newport’s book,Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. It’s a book that helps me reset my intentions for the year, carve out time for the things that matter most, and let go of the continuous distractions of our cultural reality. All of those emails, social media posts, and Zoom meetings crowd out the less-urgent, yet more important work that has a greater long-term impact on my life and my work settings. Specifically, I need to schedule time every week to address the pressing issues in my life—the “deep work” projects the nurture my soul’s foundation.

As part of my Annual Leadership Formation Plan, I’m seeking to do less, go deeper. I’ve discerned what I’m saying “no” to this year, and I’m also setting aside 90 minutes (5:30-7 a.m.) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings to do address “deep work” projects. In addition, I set aside one week a quarter to focus on a single significant project.

In the context of your ministry leadership, consider how setting aside time for deep work could benefit your church. For example, how about scheduling a meeting that has just one issue to address, such as:

  • Becoming a more inviting church.
  • Deepening intergenerational relationships.
  • Helping families form faith at home.
  • Revamping your nominating and onboarding process.
  • Developing a year-round plan for growing financial generosity.

What if you decided to focus every member’s attention on just one main theme for the the year such as:

  • We are called to connect.
  • Growing in gratitude and generosity.
  • Forming faith every day.
  • Befriending our neighbors.

I find that managing too many projects perpetuates mediocrity. Perhaps it’s time not only for you, but also your church, to do less so you can do what really matters in life and ministry. Some diagnostic questions to consider…

  1. When and where you can find time to do deep work?
  2. What would you like to pour your creative energies into resolving, rethinking, or reinventing?
  3. How would your calendar need to change to make space for deep work?  

 Jim LaDoux is the longtime Director of Coaching Services for Vibrant Faith. Jim lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife—he has two adult sons. He’s been a coach since 1992, has a Master of Management Arts, and is a certified PCC (Professional Certified Coach).


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