No Shallow Work

Jan 20, 2021Published0 comments

After the whirlwind of a year that 2020 brought us, perhaps this January we feel a stronger need to buckle down and see positive results—in anything. We might feel tempted to master new disciplines whether in our job, health, or spirituality. Yet no matter how much we try to make room for fruitful tasks this January, we will soon find ourselves entrenched in the mundane.

We’ll still send email after email, fold another round of laundry, wipe the same table with a washcloth, and fill out another piece of paperwork. This kind of work is the kind that author Cal Newport coined as “shallow work.” He defines it as “non-cognitively demanding” and work that tends not to add obvious value. Though Newport doesn’t make moral arguments in his book Deep Work, it doesn’t mean we aren’t already tempted to assign labels like good and bad to different levels of work.

We don’t need any help feeling poorly about monotony.

So how do we approach a new year, knowing that despite our best attempts, a good part of our days will consistently feel pointless?

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