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Deep Work

UPDATE: Shortly after this post, I was taken to hospital and had an emergency appendix removal…

THIS is going to be the year of deep work for me. Perhaps that should be Deep Work, but then again, that sounds a bit dubious, so let’s stick to deep work.

What I mean is that the past few years of entrepreneurship have left me exhausted – physically and mentally (perhaps Deep Work after all, eh?). My health’s taken a knock, and it’s pretty clear that I’m going to be heading for the dreaded “entrepreneurial seizure” described so well by Michael Gerber in The E-Myth Revisited.

I think part of that is because I have so many projects and sidebars that I’m working on and I don’t have the time, opportunity, or motivation to go 100% with all of them. This is going to be the year in which I launch my book on patent insider’s tips & tricks for killing it with IP strategies to make you money (I’m thinking “Intangbl”, but perhaps that’s a stretch too far, so I’ll probably stick to “Don’t F*ck It Up”), I’ve got a column going with Business News, two young kids, and a kick-ass patent & trade marks practice which is growing significantly. In between all of this I’m giving talks to MBA students, several public speeches each year, and advice to small business groups.

What this means is that I’m spread thinly and, although I love playing the role of a generalist, I’ve realised that I’m skimming the surface of too many side projects and distractions. I have to admit that I get the most satisfaction from going really deeply into a subject or project and focusing on one thing at a time. Those that know me well would find that surprising given that I’m an ENFP personality type (Google it), which means that generally I should be flitting about between coffee dates and handing out free Nutella to everyone I see, without getting any actual work done.

But I recently re-discovered my diary that I kept when I was still in the lab doing research into (wait for it) African horsesickness virus. Yes. That. Anyway, I was astounded by how organised I was at the tender age of 21. It was incredible – paging through my journal, it’s clear I was overlapping and interleaving experiments like crazy, filling in new projects while waiting for things to spin in the centrifuge. I was planning experiments months in advance, while setting out every single little step or scheduled item for the next day, before I went home from the lab each evening. It was amazing seeing it and it reminded me how much I enjoyed learning everything I could about one single thing – a tiny virus with only 10 genes (humans have >50,000 genes), yet strong enough to kill a horse in two or three days.

So I’ve decided to cut out the distractions and do deep work on only three projects – my book (which I hope to get published by September this year), my IP law practice (where we desperately need additional hands on deck), and doing more writing for outside publications (OK, including this blog). I’ve realised that I like long-form writing, even though I start out every blog hoping to emulate Seth Godin and only write a massively profound and impressive sentence or two.

All of that having being said: I’d better call it a night. This short post has already become longer than planned. I’m sure Seth would have summed it up as “Deep, not wide” and gotten a million likes, retweets, and Insta-hearts all at the same time while I’m here gnawing my fists about the next sentence.

But I have to admit that I hope that I can stick to my goal for 2017 and slow down, learn more, and go more in-depth.

The book has got to happen this year.

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