Curse of eternal hectic shallowness

I spent an hour disabling the infinite hidden notifications across all my phone apps last Sunday. Last week was a very productive week !!

Google Maps topped the list in terms of notifications per app … 25 different types of notifications. Some apps like paytm have no way to disable their updates. (Should there be a feature in Android to protect us against that?)

Notifications are evil. Not necessary evil, but unnecessary evil.

There is a serious cost to these distractions. Every distraction creates a ripple of hectic shallowness.

Even a quick glance at Twitter or reviewing an email has a negative impact on your ability to focus on tasks. In fact, that one quick glance costs you about 15 to 20 minutes of attention loss. Our brains are simply not wired for that level of distraction – Why deep work matters in a distracted world

While the term ‘Deep Work’ is new, Prof Cliff Ness from Stanford has talked for years on the perils and myths of multitasking. His research and that of many others shows that humans brains are not capable of multitasking. In fact, the ones who suffer the most in terms of lack of attention and inability to switch effectively across tasks are those who believe they are good at multitasking (this includes all the ‘we young millennials are different because we have been multitasking from childhood‘).

Image result for cartoon on multi tasking

If you are constantly in a state of hectic shallowness, it can permanently damage your concentration capacity and ability to do deep work.

“We have a growing amount of research which tells us that if you spend large portions of your day in a state of fragmented attention—where your regular workflow is constantly broken up by taking frequent breaks to just check in with social media—that this can permanently reduce your capacity for concentration,” says Prof. Cal Newport in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Are there social repercussions of opting out of the notification economy? I am sure there are.

But don’t let this ‘Fear of Missing Out‘ curse you to a life of eternal hectic shallowness. People will come to you if you produce outcomes that are of value – irrespective of how slow you are to respond to instant notifications.

Do you agree?

Can you share your experiences of opting out?


  1. Why deep work matters in a distracted world
  2. How multitasking is affecting the way you think
  3. Media multi-taskers pay a price, a Stanford study shows
  4. Can deep work really work?
  5. Putting a finger on our phone obsession
  6. Deep work the secret to achieving high productivity
  7. Hidden costs of worker interruptions

Head winds / tail winds asymmetry

Do this exercise before you read rest of the post.

Round 1: List in 3 minutes all the head winds and tail winds in ur life.

Round 2: Them double the number of tail winds in 2 minutes.

Round 3: Double them in 2 minutes more.

Count the # of  head winds and tail winds after each round.

Typically the # of head winds and # of tail winds are very similar or the former is more at the end of round 1.

At the end of three rounds, most people were surprised to remind themselves the # of tail winds in their lives. And how they underestimate them.

Why is it that people easily recognize head winds in their lives more than tail winds? When they do people mostly recognize ‘other people’ than ‘systems / environments / intangibles’  in tail winds. And vice versa in head winds.

Why this asymmetry?

Listen to this NPR talk on Why is my life so hard? or read the transcript

What do you think about this concept?

What would you do with this asymmetry?


  1. Talk on Head winds / tail winds asymmetry by Dr. Thomas Gilovich
  2. NPR talk – Why is my life so hard?
  3. Life’s headwinds and tail winds