The Deep Life: Me, A Case Study | Tom McFarlin

The Deep Life: Me, A Case Study | Tom McFarlin

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Back in June, I wrote an article called Living Deeply, Writing Broadly and tagged it under TDL. I haven’t done much with that particular tag since writing that post, though.


Earlier this week, a close friend sent me the following text (with some context removed for the sake of keeping it concise):

Clear writing gives poor thinking nowhere to hide. A lack of understanding, which was previously invisible, becomes suddenly visible. You can’t simply take a few minutes here and there, get the gist of the problem, and expect to have clear writing. It doesn’t work that way.

How to Think Better: The Skill You’ve Never Been Taught

Not so long ago I used to write daily even if it wasn’t for this site. I’d write in a journal or in a notebook or a field guide just to get some thoughts done.

Not everything worth writing is necessarily worth publishing, but perhaps nearly everything deserving of serious consideration is worth putting into writing. At least in terms of working on or working out an idea.

Couple that with a recent podcast from Cal Newport in which he breaks down what he calls The Deep Life Stack along with many of the things I’ve been working to practice in my day-to-day for the last couple of years and you have somewhat of a structure for how I’ve been trying to organize this particular phase – or season, as some say – of my life.

If you listen to any of Newport’s podcasts or any others that talk about this type of stuff, they often cite a case study or multiple case studies throughout their episodes or book. So why not take the material I’m learning and turn myself into my own case study?

Me, A Case Study

Here’s the thing: A lot has been going on offline for my family and me and I’ve really had to continually work through some of the ideas of what it means to put the ideas Newport discusses into practice.

That is, how do you continue to pursue a deep life when there are extremely high hurdles that make life itself difficult? Yes, we all have our battles. I’m not arguing that. The questions remains for all of us.


For some time I’ve been stuck with a bit of a writer’s block so far as development-related topics is concerned. Not such much that I’m not writing code or tackling interesting problems but finding ways to write about them is different than it was when I used to do so daily.

So rather than buy a new domain or try to spin up a new site or any of that, why not look back at what I wrote in that first article:

I don’t know when I’ll start incorporating new content but eventually I’ll be talking about what deep work is, its values, and how I incorporate it in my day-to-day.

And expand this site to start representing what it means to be some type of personal case study for TDL working as a remote software engineer? So let’s see if I can start populating this article’s tag with content using myself and what I’m reading, learning, and practicing as my own case study.

So here’s the first official article. Let’s see how it goes.

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