Deep Work: Slice of Life #sol19 27/31

I had a found hour between getting home from work and needing to get on a video conference call. I knew immediately what I would do with my time. Read. A book I had requested through interlibrary loan arrived that day, and I am always eager to start the shiny new book.

3:35. Sit down to read.

3:38 Get up to adjust pillows on chair.

3:39. Sit back down to read.

3:40. Feel thirsty.

3:42. Sit back down to read with glass of water.

3:45. Realize I’m still in work clothes. I’d be more comfortable in sweats.

3:49. Sit back down to read wearing sweats.

3:55. Acknowledge that I have felt the itch to check my email or text messages at least 200 times in the last 20 minutes. Feel virtuous that I have resisted.

3:56. Give in to urge to check email and text messages. Nothing new.

3:57. Set phone back down. Go back to reading.

3:58. Remember a work email I was supposed to send. Pick up phone.

4:00. Set phone back down. Go back to reading.

4:02. Notice Chipotle. The light is good. I should try to take a photo.

4:03. Cute but kind of goat-eyed. Light definitely good. Snap more trying to get a non-wonky one. Several out of focus. Another goat-eye.

4:04. Feel satisfied with a good photo.

4:05. But he’s really cute, so take a few more. Inadvertently capture another yawn photo to add to my collection. Why does this cat yawn every time I take his picture?

4:06. Set phone down. Get back to reading.

4:07. Notice Chipotle keeps looking up at the cabinet where we store his favorite toy.

4:08. Snap another photo.

4:09. Set my phone down and pick up my book.

4:10. Maybe I should play with the cats? I could read and twirl their toy around. That’s an example of good multitasking.

4:11. Play with cats. Oliver looks cute in chair. Love the light. Maybe just one more photo?

4:12. Ok, only 15 minutes of reading time left. Focus! Set down phone and pick up book.

4:15. Oh crap, I forgot to charge my laptop. No way it has enough charge for this video call. Search for charger.

4:17: Sit back down. Pick up book.

4:18. Where did the toy go?

4:19. Sit back down. Pick up toy and book.

4:20. Did I get the message with directions for the conference call? Maybe I should check.

4:21. Oh! I have a couple of new emails. I should respond.

4:23. Forgot to text my husband to remind him about my conference call.

4:24. Set down phone. Pick up book.

4:25. Check time. Almost 4:30! Better get laptop set up.





34 responses to “Deep Work: Slice of Life #sol19 27/31”

  1. arjeha Avatar

    Ha ha. Love this. It is so easy to get distracted by other things. Cats over books is really a tough choice to make. I would most likely pick the cats and save the book for later when the cats are all settled – if that ever happens.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am a little worried that I have permanently damaged my attention span! I need to UNPLUG more and see if that helps. I usually choose cats over books too.

  2. Amanda Potts Avatar

    Ha! I love the play by play of your found hour – and the juxtaposition with the excerpts from the book is fantastic. I know the book wants you to “wring every last drop of value out of your current intellectual capacity” but surely during your found hour you are allowed to wring out every last cat photo and play opportunity? The photos of Chipotle and Oliver are great – I even like the first one of Chipotle that you declared “goat eyed”. He’s just dang cute. March will be over soon and we can trade some of this writing time for book reading again…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So much writing time this month! Not complaining, as I needed it. Now, how to keep the momentum going? It’s hard to resist taking photos of Chipotle. Such a cutie!

  3. Alice Nine Avatar
    Alice Nine

    Oh my! Your timeline of activity is way too familiar… and I fear it is just as common among our students. My take away, from the brief “page quotes”: This is not to diminish the need or importance of “shallow work.” After all, the computer must be charged. The cats need our attention. And it is not to pit “shallow work” against “deep work.” We do need to understand, however, that there is a difference between the two, and when we need to engage in “deep work,” we must not exert discipline so the “shallow work” doesn’t interfere. And then, on the flip side, there are those who engage in “deep work” and the dishwasher doesn’t get unloaded. Seriously, the ramifications of this are huge for the classroom… for homework… for projects. {sigh} I need to read this book. BTW: I love the form you used to write this post. Thank you, Elizabeth.

    1. Alice Nine Avatar
      Alice Nine

      OOPS… bad revision. Midway through my comment it should read “WE MUST EXERT discipline so the “shallow work” doesn’t interfere.” (LOL, I was distracted by a beep.)

    2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Wonderful thoughts, Alice. I think you make such an important point: the shallow work does need doing as well, and there is also a time for that. I know for myself, I tend to approach deep work as if it’s shallow work, and I also tend not to make much progress. This book is helping me understand why. I am looking forward to the second half which is all about what changes to make so that you can do more deep work.

  4. margaretsmn Avatar

    This happens to me so many times! That wisdom about deep work speaks to what my students are doing right now. They are writing an essay and seem to be in the flow of it. I’m trying not to look at them to distract them. Your cat really is very cute!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I find it more and more challenging to create a life that supports deep work. Lots to think about here for me!

  5. carwilc Avatar

    This sounds like how I read (or don’t read) these days! The cats really are cute, though!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Exactly! Lots of good intentions for reading. Not so much follow-through.

  6. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    This happens to me far too much. Your new, shiny book sounds like something I should read!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think he has a new book on digital minimalism that I probably need to get too!

  7. learn_thru_it Avatar

    Very cute cats and excellent photography skills. And it was validating to know I’m not the only one with this reading style. Thank you for the book recommendation!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I feel like my brain may be permanently broken!

  8. mschiubookawrites Avatar

    Funniest. Slice. Ever. Love the excerpts about deep and shallow work, as well as the minute by minute play. Truly feels like my life! Cool structure, too!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks! I was pleased with how it all came together.

  9. Akilah Avatar

    Hilarious. Love the interplay between the excerpts and what you’re actually doing. Also, does the laptop need to be charged for the call or can it be plugged in???

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha, this is a great question. My house has old wiring and very few outlets anyway and the only outlet that seems to be able to handle charging my computer is in the bathroom! And I thought it would be really weird to have that video call in the bathroom.

  10. BeReal81 Avatar

    This was a great slice. So often this is how I feel about my Saturday – when I am going to ‘get a lot done’ and the notice the ceiling fan is dusty and I should really touch up the wall paint – on and on until the hour or morning or day is gone.
    I also need to read this book. I listen to Micheal Hyatt’s podcast, and both hosts quote it often.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’ll have to look up Michael Hyatt’s podcast. I love podcasts! I think you’d find the book fascinating. I am going to reflect more on how I divide up my time so that I can make sure there is time and space for deep work.

  11. Leigh Anne Eck Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck

    I need a book procrastination, not necessarily distractions! Love this slice!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Leigh Anne! It’s clear that many can relate to this problem!

  12. readingteachsu Avatar

    This couldn’t be more true. My TBR pile is very large. Post 31 day challenge I hope to make a dent. 🤞🏻

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I definitely haven’t been reading as much this month as I usually do!

  13. Brian Rozinsky Avatar

    Accounting for time so precisely does reveal truths we might rue, doesn’t it? The self-deprecating & self-aware tones in this slice make the accompanying realizations go down easier. Cat companions help, too — or is it hinder?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, it’s all a little bit embarrassing…. But at least I got a good slice out of it!

  14. Ramona Avatar

    Our book club read this book last year, but I was unable to focus long enough to finish it! HA! Love the pics of the cats and your minute by minute log. I can definitely identify.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha! That is hilarious, Ramona. When I can find time to focus on it, I’m finding it very interesting and illuminating. Looking forward to getting to the part where he explains what to do about the problem!

  15. karpenglish Avatar

    I love the itemized list of all the things you are actually doing instead of your deep work. Sometimes, our brains are just too busy or too fried for anything deep. And with that said, I am going to sign off, because my blanket o’cats is getting cranky about my typing. Despite the fact that I am hanging off the chair sideways to type without touching them, one is glaring at me and the other has sunk her claws into my sock and is tugging it off. Now is cat o’clock and my commenting and my own PD reading clearly need to wait until tomorrow. 🐱

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am always amazed at the uncomfortable positions I end up in so that I can type and hold cats in the way that they prefer!

      1. karpenglish Avatar

        You always have to do what the cats prefer. That’s the main rule of cat ownership!

  16. livinglife816287820 Avatar

    This is hilarious and so spot on. How many times do I do this and never even thought about a slice! So creative! The book does look a bit heavy going!!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha, it’s a quicker read than I expected it to be–especially because I just skim when I get bogged down in examples. I can’t believe how often my life is exactly like this, though–one distraction after another!

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