Conquer Your Time Management Giants at Last

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

We all struggle with time management, but as social media steals away more and more of our minutes, our angst over lost time grows. Here at Books & Such, we’re always brainstorming how to get to the “real” work. Our days are frittered away reacting (to emails, phone calls, social media) rather than initiating action.

When we’re merely reacting, we’re not engaged in the most productive work we should be doing. For example, it can feel good to clean out your inbox by the end of the day, but in actuality, did you engage in your highest priorities? Probably not.

Our time management problem is twofold.woman with clock

About a month ago, Rachelle set me back on my heels when she explained to me that studies show we’re–wait for it–addicted to being online. I didn’t appreciate the use of that negative word, but after giving it some thought, I have to say, “Hello, my name is Janet, and I’m an addict.” Like all addicts, I need a regular fix, and my addiction demands more and more of each day.

For each of us addicts, this translates to us interrupting ourselves during a productive part of the day by “just checking” something online. We can’t resist. We grow restless when we try to concentrate on a task and keep thinking about going online. That’s an urge we generally give in to. Once diverted from our task, it can take a long time before we’re refocused meaningfully on the job at hand.

So the cycle goes day after day.

That’s one of the time management giants we need to slay.

The other is how we think about work. Credit goes to Rachelle once again, who told me about an article she had read that helped her with her time management. When I checked it out–be still, my heart–I discovered that the author had articulated our 21st-century time dilemmas better than I had ever encountered. I was loving the article on that score alone. It helped me to realize I’m not unique in my struggles and helped me to understand them so I know how to deal with them.

“5 Secrets to Managing Your Time, Backed by Research” explores a significant part of our problem. The article summarizes from Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World that we define everything that keeps us busy when we’re on the job as work. But in reality, two types of work exist: shallow work and deep work. Once we divide our day between these two types of work, we can break our productivity-busting cycle.

  • “Deep work” is using your skills to create something of value. It takes thought, energy, time and concentration.
  • “Shallow work” is all the little fussy, logistical stuff: email, calls, social media, marketing details, etc.

Newport explains:

Deep work is to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task, and shallow work describes activities that are more logistical in nature, that don’t require intense concentration.

We’re “drowning in the shallows” rather than doing the kind of work that brings real value. Email and internet searches alone take up 60% of the average worker’s hours. For most of us, our real work begins when we finish our emails and social media. Some days, for me, I never complete my emails in a given day and end up finishing my shallow work at night. My entire week can be subsumed by shallow work.

Concentrating on deep work not only provides the benefit of making us productive in the most important work, but it also makes us happier while shallow work feels less meaningful.

Newport points out:

We know it’s satisfying to enter a state where you’re giving full, rapt attention to something that you’re good at. Shallow work, on the other hand, fragments your attention and exposes you to a lot of things that aren’t that nice. You’re going to see the Facebook post that makes you jealous and the email that stresses you out. Someone who’s based mainly in shallow work, neurologically speaking, is going to eventually construct an understanding of their world that is stressful and fractured.

So how do we get to our deep work?

Newport tells us that we use our calendars all wrong. We schedule phone calls, webinars, emails and social media. We add in doctor and dental appointments, haircuts, even mani-pedis. The shallow stuff. It’s actually often other people’s work rather than yours. We (well, I, anyway) fill in the nooks and crannies with deep work.

We should function just the opposite. Commit yourself to your deep work first, then fill in the remaining time for shallow work.

Another way to tackle your time management giants is to measure how much of your time is spent on deep work. It’s one thing to put deep work on your calendar; it’s another not to let interruptions (or time temptations) to keep you from doing the real work. Keeping score of just how many hours you spend on deep work is shown to help you discipline how your spending your time.

Newport also suggests creating deep work rituals that tell your subconscious it’s time to settle into the most satisfying, productive part of your schedule. Rituals can include having a different place to do deep work or creating steps you take to prepare to do deep work such as making yourself a cup of coffee, putting your chocolate by your chair, shutting down your text and Twitter ping notifications.

I’m committed to entering 2016 focused on deep work. This week, I’ve scheduled significant time to do the concentrated work. I’ve decided I need to also acknowledge my online addiction; so I’ll be setting my timer to tell me when I need to step away from my shallow work. Emails can be dealt with by starting the day opening only those from fellow agents, publishing personnel, and clients.

I can’t stay in deep work hour after hour but need to take breaks. During those times, I’ll return to my shallow work.

I aspire to experience a productive day, week and year with these changes. And to find myself more satisfied, less frustrated and mentally less fractured. As Cal Newport says:

If you can train your ability to focus and then fight to make time for real intense focused work in your schedule, you are absolutely going to thrive in this economy while the people sitting next to you are going to look up one day from their Facebook feed and realize they’ve been left behind.

What constitutes deep work for you? What diverts you into shallow work? What can you do to spend more time doing deep work?

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Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

55 Responses

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  1. Interesting post, Janet. But I’m not sure that I agree with Newport’s classifications of deep and shallow work, let alone their relative importance.
    * Much of what seems to fall into shallow work is what I would call ‘relational’; certainly emails and participation in social media apply. These are precisely the places where, through interaction and example, we have the best opportunities to truly express the Heart of Christ. These are the best opportunities most of us have to show kindness and encouragement to those who need it, and to those who may not realize their need (and you and the Books and Such staff excel at this, Janet).
    * My deep work is writing, but I have come to realize that it does not matter if I write or have published another novel. The chances that it will influence lives for the better, even in the short term, are small. The social media interaction, however, can plant a seed of hope and faith into a heart that’s been wounded. A short paragraph, or even a sentence – “I believe in you” – can turn around a day, and turn around a life.
    * But this ostensibly shallow work influence requires a considerable time investment; one has to be known as a friendly heart, and that requires substantial engagement.
    * I’ve learned this through the importance it’s had for me; many people, including many writers, put aside their deep work to leave thoughtful, extensive comments on my blog, and similar replies to comments I’ve made here. Those have meant far more to me than their authors may have realized. Circumstances have made me want to give up, more often that I’d like to admit. The physical process of writing, simply tapping the keys, hurts (and I can no longer speak well enough for a dictation programme to work), and thinking through writing processes and paradigms has to be directed around that pain as well. But these individuals have given me the heart to continue, and the mission to reach out to others where and when I can.
    * I owe my hopeful soul to that shallow work that has been done on my behalf by others.

    • I have a personal anecdote with which to illustrate my comment above, and serendipitously, it involves Rachelle.
      * In 2008, when I finished “Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart”, Rachelle (then working for another agency) was my first choice for representation. She passed on the novel, but took the time to write a friendly and encouraging email, complimenting both my craft and voice.
      * I never forgot this, and kept it in my heart while I kept writing…and now that writing is all I CAN do, I value her gesture – and the time and thought it took – all the more. I still have a purpose, and I am fairly certain that without the kindness of this person who I so admired then (and admire far more now) I would have lost heart.
      * Rachelle, if you’re reading this…you are a big part of the reason I am trying to stay alive. You gave me hope, and I’ll never forget…and I hope that my efforts will never let you down.

      • Janet Grant says:

        I’ll call Rachelle’s attention to your comment here, Andrew, so she’s sure to see it. This is a good reminder that our words of affirmation have such power.

    • Carol Ashby says:

      You hit it on the head, Andrew. The “shallow” work is relationship-building. That is where we meet others for the kind of communication that lets us encourage each other. (You do this extremely well.) One of the most important purposes of our lives is to show God’s love to others through our relationships. It might be face-to-face or online. It might be “shallow” work or not even defined as part of our work, but it serves a deep purpose. Social media properly done can be true ministry.

    • Andrew, I agree about the relationships. I definitely consider this blog deep work. 🙂 And I spend a lot of time here. And I have no regrets about that. 🙂

    • Andrew, I have to agree that the relational aspect of social media is filling. There are days when I need to connect with those who “get me” and it happens here, and in other places around social media.
      *For me, I have to be careful not to spend too much of my time on the relational. I also want to spend time on the deep work, which comes more easily when my soul is filled—by God and by others. Good point, friend.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Andrew, as always, you bring good thought to the blog conversation. As I read about what motivates you to spend time online, it’s clear to me that the interactions are deep work for you. You aren’t offering off-the-cuff responses but speak from your heart to others’ hearts. It takes concentration and effort to write in such a way.
      I also want to clarify that I don’t think shallow work is without worth; it’s a different kind of work than deep work. I must do emails, but emails can eat up weeks for me, without my ever returning to the core of my job: to sell manuscripts. For me, calling one type of work “deep” and another “shallow,” frees me to consciously make deep work my priority.

      • John Wells says:

        I second what Andrew writes. The coined definitions seem to fit into a “one size fits all” category of work. I’m retired, but spent my career as a naval engineer in the category of “deep work,” which was expected. On the other hand, a secretary or data entry clerk is hired for “shallow work” and would be errant in her duties to engage in “deep work” at the office. A calendar? Any form of keeping a journal or time management program is always helpful. So while I find the discussion interesting, I remain unimpressed with its conclusions–although I agree that it might be helpful for some, meaningless for others. But anything that keeps the grey cells working is valuable. Nice try.

      • Janet Grant says:

        John, the article in Time Magazine acknowledged that deep and shallow work definitions only function for those who actually are expected to engage in both types. I had felt my blog post was becoming fairly long so I didn’t try to cover all the ground, but to focus on what is likely to be the most meaningful to writers, who are expected to accomplish both types of work. And, of course, Cal Newport’s book would provide the most nuanced description of the two types of work. Which I know you’ll not be checking out since my blog post didn’t speak to you in a profound way. I understand that this way of thinking about work can leave some cold, but it has transformed my thinking and helped me to solve my time management struggles that I’ve wrestled with for years. Hopefully I can speak more directly to you in a future post.

  2. Great post, Janet. I needed this. I’ve always been pretty disciplined … that’s what my mother tells me anyway. 🙂 Seems like the past three years, I’ve established a routine … I spend December through March writing a MS, and then I spend the remainder of the year editing. I usually delve into deep work in the morning hours. And when I’m writing the MS, I usually go until my arms can’t go anymore, or until I need to plot the next scene. And anytime I’m in deep work–writing, writing blog posts, writing articles–I close the office door. And when I’m working on an MS, my mind goes into deep work every night when I get alone in the bathroom and run that hot water deep, plotting the next scene. 🙂 When I’m in the editing phase, I have more time for shallow work, it seems. But … Facebook is neat. 😉

    • Janet Grant says:

      Shelli, you’ve “plotted” out your entire year. Which is great; you’ve established a rhythm. But, yes, we all have the ability to get lost in the FB shallows.
      Some days, after scrolling through my feed, I feel barraged by emotions: someone’s dear pet died; another person had a baby; still another person had a joke to offer; then a YouTube video made me laugh AND cry. It’s this kind of fragmentation that Newport believes leaves us mentally exhausted–and not happy.

  3. Oh Janet, your words ring so true (as does the article you referenced). It is familiar wisdom, wisdom that I often ignore. My day job is largely dedicated to interruptions, and I accept that I am paid to respond promptly to others. But my cell phone allows my personal life to interrupt my interruptions. Sheesh!
    * I am intrigued by the concept of ritual. Without realizing it, I have established a ritual for my morning devotions: journaling the best and worst from the previous day, followed by today’s Scripture reading and its application to my life, my current to-do list and my prayer list. I don’t have a similar ritual for my deep work (at home or at the office). Methinks I’ll add that to my devotional to-do list and see what God reveals. Thank you.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Shirlee, I, like you, don’t have a ritual that mentally prepares me for deep work. My plan is to institute one. It would be a part of the rhythm of my day, and I think it would discipline my mind to concentrate on the task at hand.

  4. Jackie Layton says:

    Hi Janet,

    First I’d like to say happy 20th anniversary!

    You’ve given me a lot to think about today. Sometimes I turn off the internet for a time to avoid distractions, but I’ve never set a timer for when I’m online.I might experiment this week with different ways to get more productive.

    • Jackie, I haven’t set a timer either … I think I might would get distracted by the time it took to set it and check it. Lol. 🙂 There goes precious minutes. 🙂 But I probably should give it a try. Just writing about it has my heart leaping … thinking about the timer going off. 🙂

    • Janet Grant says:

      Thanks, Jackie, for noticing our little 20th anniversary banner. I can hardly believe the agency has existed for that long!
      The timer helps with discipline, but ultimately time management is all about discipline.
      I’ve been thinking lately how very disciplined a writer has to be, especially nowadays when so much marketing and online engagement is a required part of being published. The days in which a writer could hunch over his or her typewriter and just write sound like luxury, don’t they?

      • Jackie Layton says:

        They definitely sound like a luxury, and I’d love to just focus on my story. But I’m listening to you all and working social media and creating my platform.

  5. Carol Ashby says:

    Janet, I find this an ironic post. For me, deep work is writing on my novels. Creating substantive content for my website can also be deep work. I long to spend most of my time on the novels, but I keep getting the message that a highly active presence on social media is essential or no publisher will want my work. The demand for platform before product haunts us. Thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of followers is the target held up in every writing blog or webinar on how to get published. Once success (getting traditionally published) is achieved, expect the hamster wheel of social media and emails to accelerate. I wonder how many of us are spending so much time and energy trying to crack the followers problem that drove us into the social media swamp that we neglect writing the novels. I realize discoverability is based on a vibrant online presence, but how does anyone, especially the unpublished author, know how much is the right amount of time on the hamster wheel or which wheels to be running on?

    • Janet Grant says:

      Carol, therein lies the dilemma of the 21st-century writer. Part of the reason I like the idea of dividing work into shallow and deep is that it helps us to decide what part of our work is deep and what shallow. And then to order our day based on committed time to deep work, filling in the rest of the day with batches of shallow work. That way we’re making progress on both fronts but doing so in the most productive way possible.
      In terms of where to spend your time online, I would say you should devote the most time to where your potential readers are. And to find the niches where they tend to hang out.

  6. I have to confess that one of my time-management bugbears is the incessant composition of doggerel, doubtless due to the company I keep at home. To wit, to the tune of the “Final Jeopardy” theme…
    ***
    You don’t know it, I can tell,
    you don’t know it AND you’ll be
    hu-mil-i-a-ted in front of all the world,
    YOU will never
    live
    it
    down…

    Clock is ticking, dearie me!
    Time is running, AND
    you brain is frozen!
    Come the catcalls, comes the shame,
    and WAIT..hello…
    you
    got
    it
    right!

    • Carol Ashby says:

      Now you have that tune playing in my brain. Who knows how long it will stay there to distract me. Cruel, Andrew. Just plain cruel.

      • Look at the brightside, Carol. At least it’s not the ‘Veggie-Tales’ theme.

      • Carol says:

        Double cruel!! Now veggie tales is playing in my brain.

      • Aye, Carol, but ’tis it not a boon that a squash can make you smile?

      • Carol says:

        You have to be an adult to truly appreciate the subtle humor of veggietales.

      • It took me years, Carol, to grow young enough to appreciate their humour. I age in reverse, like merlin.
        * I’m actually not kidding, and not talking about the ‘second childhood of senility’ (though some might disagree, in my case). True matruity is found in putting aside the trappings of maturity – dignity and self-regard, and being open to joy, fun, humour – and pain – where it’s found.
        * There is an interesting precedent – Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the architect of Pearl Harbour. He was given to walking on his hands for no reason, and imitating the shuffling gait of Charlie Chaplin – on the streets of Tokyo. As the C-in-C of the japanese fleet, he could act the adolescent with no shame.
        * He was an interesting man; a consummate warrior who wanted peace, and a patriot who believed that he was only abetting in his country’s ruin by acting on his patriotism. He was also Christian-educated, and may well have been a Christian in fact.
        * And if anyone is wondering, his given name – Isoroku – means ‘fifty-six’, because that was his father’s age when the future admiral was born. (Yamamoto was not his original family name; of impoverished lineage, he was adopted by the wealthy Yamamoto family as a young man, a common practice in Japan at the time.)

    • Grinning, Andrew. Thanks SO much for planting that song in my head. 😉

  7. Newport’s deep/shallow paradigm has been bugging me since last night, and now I think I know what, at least as it pertains to writing, or more specifically, MY writing.
    * It’s an attempt to capture lighting in a bottle. Workmanlike writing is like the work of an expert bricklayer, courses placed, arches centered, joints finished. But brilliant writing – and it’s that to which I aspire, though have yet to achieve – is the flash of the kingfisher’s wings across the dawn pond.
    * Setting conditions, and Heaven help me, rituals, misses the point entirely. I’ve written my best in the fifteen minutes last week between collapsing in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor, and realizing that a sick dog needed my attention immediately. The writing was in my head, yes, but crisis brought the clarity that forebore to wait until I could write it down.
    * I’m not a successful author, in the professional sense, so maybe my method is either madness or indolent complacency. I’d like to think it’s neither, and that there is a germ of truth here, for others as well as for me.

    • Janet Grant says:

      When inspiration strikes, we all need to pay attention and make note (even while dealing with a dog crisis). I think Newport is attempting to put us in a place where we actually produce. So many of us are distracted by the glittery things online and have trouble getting to the point we actually concentrate on one task in a deep way.
      Many years ago, I was the director of a large publications office. My job was to manage writers. But I didn’t want to give up my own writing; so I regularly took writing assignments. If a meeting ended five minutes early, I would devote those five minutes before my next meeting to writing. I entered into the creative process rapidly and deeply. Which shows that, if we want something bad enough, we’ll get it done even in brief windows of opportunity.

  8. The problem, Janet, with the social media addiction is that it’s a lot like the siren call of food. When my dad kicked the smoking addiction when I was a teenager, all cigarettes left the house. He also spent significantly less time in the presence of smokers. We can’t do that with food or social media. Sure, we can keep chocolate chip cookies out of the house, but eventually I have to go to the grocery store where there is an entire aisle of cookies. Have you felt that magnetic pull on your grocery cart? In this profession as in many others, social media is a must. I can’t just not let it in the house. A timer can work…as long as we don’t treat it like the snooze button on the alarm clock. Scheduling is good, but like Andrew said, it’s relational. I can’t just post something and not respond to anyone else. Starting the deep work first thing works most of the time, when I can manage it. At least we acknowledge we’re addicted, right? So, here’s my confession. Hello, my name is Meghan, and I’m addicted to Facebook.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Thank you for that confession, Meghan. I agree that social media is like food: we have to have it in the house. So our job becomes figuring out how to contain social media.
      It reminds me of the play/film Little Shop of Horrors, in which this sweet, itty-bitty plant needed blood to stay alive. It seemed such a small thing to give it a drop or two here and there. Of course, the plant became ginormous and never let-up on its demand: FEED ME!!
      So like social media, eh?

  9. Jeanne says:

    Janet, what a thought-provoking—and convicting—post. I’m so glad Rachelle shared it with you, and you shared it with us. It’s great!
    *My name is Jeanne, and I have an internet addiction.

    *I’ve gotten better over the past year, but it’s still hard. I’m learning, that the first step of kicking the addiction is to turn things off during times of deep work. My email chimes when I get a new email. It distracts me, and gets me thinking about who wrote what, and then I have to go check. So, I’ve been closing down email when I’m doing deep work. It has helped. Another thing I do is schedule my writing time as an appointment on my calendar. I don’t schedule other things during that time. I need to extend that to online distracting things too.
    *As you’ve mentioned, I used a timer in the past to help me be more focused during my online time, but (hangs her head here), I have been guilty of ignoring or re-setting it. I need to work on this.
    *I want this year to be more disciplined in terms of the time I have available for deep work. For me this is writing and editing books and blogposts.

  10. This would explain how I can get to the end of the day and say: “I haven’t done a thing!” even though I’ve been busy all day. For me, shallow work is fact checking online, making my kids do band practice-brush teeth-feed chickens-stop injuring each other with Nerf swords, general nagging, e-mail, reading industry blogs, answering the phone, and randomly tidying things around the house but not staying in one place long enough for anything to ever really look clean. Deep work, cooking a meal, reading a book to my children, cleaning 1 room well, writing a blogpost, outlining, actually writing a chapter. These things satisfy me in ways that the others do not.

    • Janet Grant says:

      I so hear you, Kristen! I remember several ago I was telling my husband, as we talked over dinner, that I didn’t get anything done that day but emails. He responded,”Emails are a part of your work.” I hated that answer but couldn’t explain why.
      Now I understand that emails are shallow work and don’t satisfy. Having made it through my emails by the end of the day feels unproductive, even though, of course, I communicated with a lot of people. Having a client’s proposal ready to send out, now that feels like a victory.

  11. Jenny Leo says:

    I’m a big Cal Newport fan, and have just started reading Deep Work. You’d think that a person like me, who works at home and has tons of discretion over how time gets allocated, would do a better job of doing the deep work, but it so rarely happens without a struggle. Yet its worth the struggle, because without deep work, the novels don’t get written. I do appreciate the ministry value of being interruptible, which is not an angle that Newport addresses. But in all honesty, very few of my own interruptions stem from, say, people in need, versus something that’s simply more shiny and fun than the work before me.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Jenny, I so agree. For me, shallow work screams at me to pay attention to it and it only. Because I’m reacting to someone else’s need or request, I never manage to set that work aside to pay attention to the quieter “child,” deep work. That’s why I need systems to aid me to get into the deeper waters.

  12. I sat down at the computer a few minutes ago to write an article that’s due soon. Instead I’m here. When I saw the topic I felt guilty, but the comments made me realize I’m not alone. However, I’d better sign off and get to work.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Good call, Janet. These comments will be waiting for you when you finish your article.

      • Janet Ann Collins says:

        Unfortunately I spent the last few hours on the phone and computer with tech people since I discovered my computer had been hacked. And, yesterday I’d spent ages getting and installing a new printer. I think I’ve got an excuse to take a brisk walk around the block before working on that article, don’t you?

      • Janet Grant says:

        Yikes! Yes, you need to clear your head from all that techie babble.

  13. Jen Harwood says:

    I’ve started looking at my week at the end of the previous week and dividing my tasks into ‘big rock’s and ‘little rocks’ (your deep and shallow work categories). I have five of each category. First I fill in the big rocks for the week – one or two a day depending on the needs – and then the shallow ones. My goal is often to include all ten rocks into my week. It’s helping me at least GET TO the big rocks more systematically, but to not forget the little ones as well. It helps me be a bit more forward thinking as well, rather than reactionary.

    • Janet Grant says:

      The rock analogy certainly works. It creates a strong picture of what each day consists of and how to order the day, making sure the big rocks are in place first and knowing the little rocks will settle into the remaining spots.

  14. I’m getting better at is managing my time in terms of writing vs social media.
    One thing I’ve always kept note of is “the zone”. My husband does a bit of work with trees, and in all our years together, whenever he was writing a paper, he talked about “the zone”.
    “I’m staying late at work, I’m working on a paper and I’m in the zone.”
    At first, it drove me insane. Now?
    Him: “Hon, are you coming to bed, it’s 1am.”
    Me: “I’m in the zone.”
    Him: “That’s great! Don’t stay up too late.”
    He understands the importance of working deep when the muse hits and rolling through it until I fall asleep at the keyboard.
    But, he has NO time for social media. He thinks it’s stupid. I have had to explain to him that building one’s network enhances one’s reach.
    I think he’s thankful to stick to cross-pollination and DNA work.
    And?
    He can actually spell the long form of DNA.
    I’m usually sound asleep by the time he gets to the N part.
    !!Squirrel!!
    Anyway, I am better at managing my time.
    Sorta.
    On that note, I shall go change out of my pajamas.

  15. LC Plaunt says:

    I think people need to decide for themselves what their deep work is. For me, it is what takes the most concentration–writing and editing. I schedule that for the morning. I schedule administrative work, such as emails and phone calls, for the afternoon. Of course, that doesn’t mean that interruptions don’t sometimes change my plans. I think relationship-building is important too though, and I don’t listen to those who say that Facebook friendships aren’t real. They certainly are! Facebook has allowed me to maintain relationships with friends I wouldn’t otherwise see. Work-related social media is scheduled in the administrative time slot, and personal Facebook time is spent in the evenings. The plan is not carved in stone, but I feel it is a worthy goal–for me.

  16. Gayla Grace says:

    What a great, thought-provoking post. I must admit that I use shallow work to avoid deep work at times. I think shallow work is easier but definitely less satisfying, as one of the comments mentions. Shallow work doesn’t accomplish our goals and keeps us focused on the urgent instead of the important.

    In my exercise world—as a runner—I could equate shallow work with running short distances. I could do that every day but I would never accomplish my goal of running a marathon. That requires deep work of long distances and intentional planning to make it happen. Although I gain some benefit from the daily runs, I never feel satisfied.

    The same applies to my work world. Although I schedule time every day to work, I’ve never thought about separating out shallow work and deep work and scheduling time for both.

    Thank you, Janet, for a helpful post!

    • Janet Grant says:

      I wish you (and me) the best in changing our thinking about the types of work we should prioritize and how to do it. I’m working from an adapted schedule this week, and so far I’m doing pretty well. Of course, it’s only Tuesday!

      • Janet, I think a lot of us would be grateful to see what your schedule on a typical non-travel day looks like, vis-a-vis the specifics of the time you spend on various tasks.
        * It would be a great insight into an agent’s life (and might defuse the innocent expectations of “why haven’t I heard back yet?”), and I think that your wisdom could help all of us in managing our working time in a better way. I suspect you are far ahead of many of us in understanding how to control and best harness these demands…well, anyway, you’re streets ahead of me.
        * I hesitated to ask this, because it’s certainly personal, and may be proprietary…and if so, please forgive.

      • Janet Grant says:

        Andrew, that’s a great idea. I’ve written a similar post in the past, but that was a few years ago, and the landscape has changed since then. I’ll post just such an article soon.

      • Thanks, Janet, I – and, I think we – really appreciate it.
        * Meanwhile, may I ask for prayers? An abscess connected to a tumour broke and is bleeding, and I am in rather dire straits.

      • Janet Grant says:

        Thanks for letting us know of your medical emergency, Andrew. Update us when you’re able.