1 min read

stop fetishizing deep work

stop fetishizing deep work. stop fetishizing long hours of uninterrupted focus. here's my case for shallow work.

  1. shallow work sometimes is what moves the needle. for example, the shallow work to cross-post my last articles to Twitter and Medium, should take precedence over the deep work to write a new article. another example. the work to message a friend for a referral, should take priority over grinding more interview practice problems.
  2. shallow work is often people work, which is happiness work. can i ask you something? do you use deep work as an excuse to ignore friends and family? i have and i regret it. i regret not studying in the library more with my friends in school. i've learned this: working while lightly messaging friends, or working while lightly chatting with housemates in aggregate leads to a happier life.
  3. shallow work can increase our surface area for luck and good things. new friend generating activities (DM'ing people on Twitter to following up with someone you met at a party) and friend maintaining activities (texting, calling, setting up events) are what produce luck in aggregate.

this "deep work addiction" is far more a problem with software engineering types and other maker types (writers). or anyone who is addicted to "feeling productive". managers probably already get this.

anyway, we pursue deep work sessions because they feel good; they make us feel productive. which makes us feel secure. but deep work is a vanity metric. it's a metric about feeling good. it's not a metric that is always one to one with results.

further points:

  • sometimes we use deep work to ignore other more important deep work, like existential questions. i should have done less coding deep work for quickapply and spent more thinking about the existential questions for the project.
  • unintentionally, i avoid dating apps because talking to people on there disrupts my deep work sessions.

i've glossed over some nuance, but my larger point stands: think about whether deep work is helping or hurting you.