Shannon Fable by Shannon Fable

Intentionally setting aside time to work on your business is important for your career. But, even if you follow the formula we outlined in our last blog about this topic to a T, if you aren’t sure what to do with this time, you may not reap the rewards.

As a refresher, time set aside to work on your business (versus in your business) prioritizes dreaming, brainstorming, ideating, developing, continuing your education, reading and creating. It does not include billing, record keeping, reaching out to clients or other action items directly related to servicing clients. It doesn’t even involve servicing your clients (i.e., conducting a session or a class). Working on your business encompasses all activities that can build, scale or otherwise enhance your business.

Let’s take a closer look at these “big brain” activities that are sure to be a game-changer for you. Collectively, this type of work is referred to as deep work, a term popularized by Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Deep work is often overlooked or deprioritized for various reasons, the least of which is the importance of the work. The type of work considered “deep” is not easy to place or cross off a list, making it hard to work into your daily list. It requires focus, concentration and uninterrupted chunks of time. The time you spend doing deep work puts the projects, action items and outreach on your list.

I subdivide deep work into three broad categories:


I like to think of vision work as the “forest: (versus the trees) or as the 40,000-foot view of your business. If you’re a fan of David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, you might think of this as your Horizon 3, 4 and 5 work. Work here may include brainstorming, dreaming, researching or otherwise anticipating innovation and growth needs. You might be considering, for example, what moves are needed for your business, an area of your business that requires attention, or a project you have in mind within your business. It could be creative, operational or somewhere in between. Vision work comes before and leads to strategic work.


Strategy work involves designing a road map to make your vision a reality. I like to think of this as planning work. Often, we don’t set aside time to figure out all of the steps, resources or knowledge you might need to make something happen, whether for a big project, writing a blog or getting a newsletter out. When you give yourself time to concentrate on a project from all angles and scope it out thoroughly, completing the job becomes much more manageable.


Creative work is the time you spend building everything on your road map, using the planning you did during strategy sessions to make your vision a reality. Creative work is expressed in a variety of forms:

  • Writing
  • Crafting a presentation
  • Designing marketing assets
  • Filming a webinar
  • Building a new spreadsheet to track a process

Whether these three categories of deep work make sense right now, the important takeaway is the need to invest in focused, in-depth work sessions. Ensuring you set aside time consistently to dig into the work needed to keep your business growing is essential.