Deep Work vs Shallow Work –

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Deep Work vs Shallow Work

Posted by Holger:

What do you know about the concepts “deep work – shallow work”?

ChatGPT: “Deep work” and “shallow work” are concepts introduced by Cal Newport in his book “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.”

Deep work refers to focused work that requires cognitive effort, such as creative thinking, problem-solving, and learning new skills. This type of work is typically performed in a state of concentration, without distractions or interruptions, and can lead to significant progress and accomplishments.

On the other hand, shallow work refers to non-cognitive, routine tasks that do not require much concentration or creative thinking, such as answering emails, attending meetings, and other administrative tasks. While shallow work is necessary to some extent, it can often be a distraction that prevents individuals from engaging in deep work and achieving their goals.

Newport argues that in today’s distraction-filled world, deep work is becoming increasingly rare but is essential for high-quality and meaningful work. He suggests that individuals should strive to maximize their time spent on deep work while minimizing shallow work.

To do this, Newport recommends creating a distraction-free work environment, setting aside dedicated time for deep work, and developing habits and routines that facilitate deep work. By doing so, individuals can achieve more meaningful work and make significant progress towards their goals.



Definition of Deep Work
Deep work is professional activities performed
in a state of distraction-free concentration
that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit.

These efforts create new value
improve your skill and are hard to replicate.

Cal puts deep work in contrast with shallow work.

Shallow work is defined as non-cognitively demanding logistical style
tasks that are often performed in a state of distraction
and these efforts are typically low in value and are easy to replicate.


Cal also makes the point that

If you spend enough time in this frantic distracted shallow work state
then you permanently lose your ability to do deep work
or in other words it takes lots of effort and deliberate training
to train yourself to be able to do deep work again.

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Created: March 18, 2023 
Last modified: March 18, 2023

This post has 2 Comments. (Click here ❤️ to share your words.)

2 responses to “Deep Work vs Shallow Work”

  1. Gayle Avatar

    I found the content of the DeepWork/Shallow Work fascinating and highly relatable. The process to achieve success is presented in a clear, concise manner. I was left with a plan that will undoubtedly increase the quality, as well as the quantity of viable results. My only question is, do I have the discipline to structure my entire day as outlined in the explanation? It feels somewhat mechanical to a spontaneous person like myself. There are several situations that require letting go of unnecessary distractions that trigger resistance in me. For example, how am I to keep in touch with my friends who are a considerable distance from me without social media? And how will I know enough to cast my vote in this Democracy if I give up my news feed? Most importantly, how can I keep myself & my family safe if I’m unaware of the dangers that more commonly occur in this era of gun violence? Is it possible to achieve a measure of results by applying a moderate amount of changes in my level of distractions as illustrated? Or is it imperative to follow the instructions exactly?

    1. Holger Avatar

      Thank you Gayle (-;

      Switching focus requires energy!
      I heard about studies that show that it can take up to 20 minutes, after being interrupted, to tune back into your previous task.

      Yes, to Life!
      Yes, to Social Media…

      Timeboxing can help to devote your attention to tasks that are important to you.
      As an idea: schedule 30 minutes in the morning, and maybe in the evening, to be dedicated to Social Media; and during the rest of the day turn off your notifications.

      And similarly with your other projects and chores: schedule time blocks for yourself, to be fully present and undistracted.
      Interruptions can suck a lot of energy, and in our unawareness we call it “normal”.

      Life as Art, being playful, curious, wise…
      “Structure supports spontaneity”.
      You are not a machine.


      I consumed a lot of so called “News” in my life.
      One way of looking at it: It’s an industry, aimed at stimulating our pain bodies.

      Where is our security and safety?
      How does life work?

      Do I operate from a sense of lack or love?


      Great to hear from you (-;

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