Shallow work (DW#893)
Mar 24, 2021
We have been discussing deep work. Let us compare it now with Shallow Work.
"Shallow Work, explains Cal Newport, is "Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tends to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate".
He goes on to say that Shallow work is very common in this "age of network tools". When we are constantly checking emails, for example, we are really not producing anything meaningful. In fact, we are working on other people’s agenda’s. He uses very powerful language to diss the addiction to email:
"knowledge workers (today) increasingly replace deep work with the shallow alternative—constantly sending and receiving e-mail messages like human network routers, with frequent breaks for quick hits of distraction."
Ouch. That hit hard.
It may be wise to ask ourselves how much time we are spending as a human network router—constantly sending emails and otherwise distracting ourselves with every new little push notification and text message and other distractions imaginable?
Of course, not all "shallow work" is useless. We do need to complete routine and logistical tasks (including checking our emails) throughout the day.
The problem happens when we replace all deep work with shallow work. When we are unable to focus for any length of time and engage in concentrated effort when we need to.
(The good news is that we can improve our ability to focus).
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