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Distinguish these two types of work to get the most out of your day

Updated: Jan 16, 2022

Since jumpstarting UchallengeU, I've carved out more time to read which is refreshing. Right now I'm reading an excellent book that I feel is rewiring my brain with each page I read.

Deep Work, by Cal Newport, renowned author and computer science professor at Georgetown University, is a treatise on why we should engage in more Deep Work vs. Shallow work. What's the difference you may be wondering and why is it so important? First, I'll start with how he defines both.

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

Deep work includes activities like writing, creating, and strategizing. Shallow work on the other hand includes activities like e-mail, aimlessly browsing social media and instant messaging.

I'm hyper connected throughout my work day which means, that people instant message me and I get a ton of e-mails. You probably experience the same thing. In my new role I was spending so much time responding to e-mails and managing disruptions from my children that it was challenging to "focus" or to do the "deep work" like writing grant proposals or articles.

Waking up consistently at 5am, I started to do deep work and it transformed my work in such a positive way that I can't imagine not carving out this time out for myself to engage in what is important to me whether considered "deep" or "shallow" by someone else.

But then I noticed that I started sending e-mails during my deep work time and soon found myself not using this time as I had intended and this is all before even learning about the book. I came to the conclusion that my morning work time is reserved for the tough stuff, not shallow busyness.

The book, Deep Work, is a wonderful read that can evolve the way that we think about and use our precious resource, time. Are you carving out time in your schedule to engage in "deep work" that is important to you?

Cheering you on,


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