Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Chess at the speed of checkers

Written by: on October 12, 2018

The concept of deep work made sense with what we hear from those critiquing our high tech fast paced world. It’s not too different from the resistance we heard from the romanticists as the world hurled forth through the industrial revolution. We move too quickly, and we miss things around us. Deep work discussed not that we missed the beauty of the world, our former connection with nature, and he explained how we miss things in our work by having accelerated to our current speed.


This sounds familiar to me.


My church has a motto, “chess as the speed of checkers”. We make important big decisions and we have to make them very fast. And then we jump into implementation even faster. This is the antithesis or deep work. And to point out the flaw in my own churches motto I simply have to draw from my own experience with the actual game of chess. The game of chess I most recently played was beyond frustrating. I was considering about ready to fall on my own sword in shame for dishonoring my self by all the stupid mistakes i was making for Moving to fast. Perhaps I should not have been playing like it was checkers.


Deep work is a discipline that I am not nearly as successful in as I’d like to be. Much of this is my own fault. The life pace and major components that make up my schedule and career are of my own making and the nature of this is my mind to be split. I realize I am not unique in this. Our whole cohort is very busy and have multiple things going on through their week. But speaking of my own schedule, I currently have 4 jobs and am student in this Doctoral program. I don’t wear it as a badge of honor, it’s just simply the combination of all things I’ve all been passionate about and have hustled for. The book did take a moment to discuss a certain type of leader and a certain type of works that demands the bouncing around. Newport described one who can make decisions indifferent compartments very quickly, and I think I might be that type of person.


Sitting down with this book I found a few things that will certainly help my work.


I divide up my day in scheduled blocks and keep one type of work to that schedule job. This has drastically helped my deep work. For example, I intend from here on out to write all my blog in one sitting and set aside blocks of time for one particular project. This will help me not loose time in all the transition that it takes to switch your thinking and even the seconds that add up as you switch between windows.


This is not a perfect system.  Often times I have to interrupt my chunks of time to meet with other people and flex into their schedule. Hopefully after the desperation of my start up wears off I can afford to be less flexible in scheduling meetings with what works for their schedule. Right now I got to make it happen though.


Ironically, as I write this now I am doing the exact opposite of Deep Work. I am currently in a coffee escaping from a graduation that is scheduled to be 3 hours long. My friend will text me when they are calling names and I will run in when my friend is called. So in the meantime I can, in a very distracted setting write a blog. And to bring more irony to all of it, I read this book in May because that’s when it was originally scheduled, it got delayed so now I’m writing this blog in June, I’ll probably edit once in August, and then submit it in October.


Before i took a advantage of this window of time and choose to be somewhat rude by escaping 85% of a way too long graduation service, I had scheduled a full week to try and take care of a handful of weeks of blogs in one setting. I have a very slow 2 weeks coming in the summer and my October – December is going to be unhealthily busy. So I’ve scheduled to apply a deep work week and shut my office door and close my blinds to get as much work done as possible.


What I liked about deep work is that thoroughness it went about teaching and proving its simple thesis. By the end of this book I considered it to be irrefutable. In light of being a full believer of this book and principles there are few more habits and rituals I’ve been thinking about implementing into my life.


  1. Add a daily review time. How did I do in my effectiveness in work that day?
  2. Move planning my day from the beginning of the day to the end of the day to plan out tomorrow. I’m not sure if I will like this but sometimes I have problem getting started in the morning because there is so much to do. When this happens a 10 minute morning walk is helpful to think through the most important parts of the day.
  3. Continue to write out my ideal weekly schedule. This is part of what has helped me SCHEDULE the deep work idea. Also I’ve submitted this to my mentor who is able to give insight into my life and where my life might have shifted away from being centered on Christ.



About the Author

Kyle Chalko

9 responses to “Chess at the speed of checkers”

  1. M Webb says:

    It was great seeing you and your bride at the KH advance! I always enjoy reading your posts and commend you for your critical thinking skills and practical application in the fast-paced environment of spiritual warfare. When I look at the world, I tend to zoom in on the good or the bad like I was using a pair of spiritual binoculars. When you know what you are looking for, it is easier to see it when you can narrow your field of view and focus your attention. Yet, I keep the eye pieces just far enough away from my face to maintain my peripheral perspective and process information below the surface or in the subconscious.
    I like your new deeper work habits you are implementing. Everyone is wired differently so I applaud you using and doing what works for you. I like using random daily to-do lists that help remind me what is due next and what I need to plan for soon. Great post!
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  2. Jay Forseth says:


    Interesting topic and motto to do “Chess at the speed of checkers.” That really made me think, and I agree there is great wisdom to that. You ought to write a book…in your spare time.

    Thanks for the application points at the end of your Blog. I thought that was brilliant, and I hope the others agree.

    Is multitasking a sin? Probably not, but it isn’t always best for us. Your compartmentalization comment was helpful for me, too.

    Hope your reunion with your kids was joyous!


  3. Great post, Kyle!

    Yes. Technology has always been seen as the antithesis of solace throughout history. Years ago, the telephone was considered an abomination to family life. Today, Newport deems social media as the new antagonist of solitude and thought. As you pointed out, there is a time for “chess to be played like checkers”; however, this does not mean that it should always be played as such.

    You mention that, “Newport described one who can make decisions in different compartments very quickly, and I think I might be that type of person.” I found similarities with this type of person as well. It would have been enlightening if Newport had delved into the facets of personality distinctives. Do you find that you lean more towards a rhythmic form of deep work compared to monastic out of preference, personality or generationally?

  4. Dan Kreiss says:


    You have made almost instant use of this text. I am interested to see if you are able to sustain these changes in your work habits and also what impact you notice from the changes.

    Do you think you will challenge your church to change their motto to something that better reflects Deep Work? Why do you think the Church has been so quick to adopt aspects of the culture that appear to interfere with developing genuine spirituality. If our churches function in the same way as any secular business or institution how will our members ever see demonstrations of a better way?

  5. Kyle,

    I smiled at the incongruity of being in a coffee shop in June waiting for your friend’s text to show up at the grad while writing on deep work. 🙂 That’s life! I think in our fast-paced, highly-connected world that those types of scenarios are really unavoidable, despite our commitment to deep work.

    Where you and I can benefit is to keep pushing back the frantic to carve out in a disciplined way those sacred hours of focus. I know with my Best Self Journal (see my post) that I will fail. But I keep picking myself up and recommitting one more day to the order I need to deliver on commitments made. All God’s grace to you as you keep moving there too.

  6. Jason Turbeville says:

    When I was working on my masters degrees I would often sit in a coffee shop either writing papers or studying for tests, I loved the frenetic feeling. If I tried to do that now I might just crack. The idea of being able to do that though does bring back smiles. I actually tried to do it during the summer and did ok but I am much better with the door closed. It was good to see you brother.


  7. Dave Watermulder says:

    Hi Kyle,
    Thanks for this post and for applying this book to your real life and immediate circumstances. It sounds like you are just the kind of “modern knowledge worker” that needs the tools that Newport offers. I resonated with what you wrote about “a few things that will certainly help my work.” I think this book offers so many ideas and disciplines that even to take on 2 or 3 is probably enough to have a positive impact on getting work done in a good way. So, keep at it, I’m in the boat with you, and hoping for more deep work into the future.

  8. Shawn Hart says:

    I fought my wife for the longest time on why I did NOT need a cell phone like everyone else. The very fact that everyone was so much more reachable with the new technology was the very thing I was eager to avoid with it. I lasted about a year, but upon starting a new youth ministry position, I realized that it was the best way to stay connected to my youth group. Sadly, with much technology comes much responsibility. I think our Information Age has brought with it certain expectations of speed, advanced performance, and extra hours of labor; it is getting harder and harder for us to keep up. One point you made, that I also can not help but reflecting on, is that I now I understand why God made a Sabbath (or a time of rest) a command rather than an option.

    Don’t over do it buddy; pace yourself.
    Good job.

  9. Greg says:

    Your journey made me smile as I could see myself at many points in my life in your shoes. I am glad you are being to think through how you can make these concepts really part of your life. I kept thinking how could I incorporate it into writing my dissertation. I appreciate you honesty in letting us know where you are at and how you are working through life’s issues.

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