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Book Review: ‘Shadow Work’ by Craig Lambert

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New book exposes all those extra activities throughout the day as shadow work

New book exposes all those extra activities throughout the day as shadow work

Ever have one of those days where you feel like all you’ve gotten done is spinning your wheels? Those days when you go from putting gas in the car on the way to work to scanning your own groceries at the store on the way home from work; you feel like nothing substantial was completed throughout the day.

Author Craig Lambert calls those extra work activities “shadow work” in his new book, “Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day.” He writes, “Life has become busier. Somehow there seems to be less time in the day, although days remain indisputably 24 hours long. In truth, time isn’t vanishing, only free time is.”

He goes on to describe shadow work as including:

all the unpaid tasks we do on behalf of business and organizations. Most of us do not recognize it or realize how much of it we are doing, even as we pump our own gas, bag our own groceries, execute our own stock trades and assemble our Ikea furniture.

Lambert calls the book “a field guide to shadow work” and writes that it “will shine a fresh light on activities.”

The book is filled with examples of shadow work at home, at the office, in our favorite restaurants, when traveling, shopping and using the computer and Internet.

And, shadow work is…

Lambert provides plenty of examples of shadow work such as housework, hyper parenting, do it yourself work, answering phones, answering emails and, of course, scanning your own groceries. Everyone seems to be tired these days and many can’t understand why.

One of the most interesting points in the book is when Lambert writes, “Shadow work is erasing the distinction between work and leisure.”

Most people work their regular work week and come home in the evenings and weekends to the kids and their many activities such as housework, homework, and volunteering commitments. Just waiting in line at the grocery store can take 30 to 45 minutes. Add to that continually sending work emails or text, and everyday turns in to a really long day.

This book puts the words to what so many people are feeling these days; there’s just too much to do. The big question is how do we slow it all down? How do we reduce our shadow work to manageable levels? How can we just say “No” to shadow work?

Quote Worthy from Shadow Work

Lambert stresses that keeping connected to the real people and the real world is vital to survival. He writes, “It is hard to overstate the importance of connecting with the real world outside your own mind. Interconnectedness is basic to survival.”

He asserts that the ancient pattern of community is being chipped away. One sign he includes is that most adults in some of the biggest cities in the U.S. live alone. More people use the Internet and other mobile resources to communicate with others and less time connecting face-to-face. Lambert believes that all this shadow work is pushing us closer to isolation.

Personally, I spend much more time texting and emailing people these days than talking to them on the phone, and that includes many of my relatives. I’ve visited my sister’s house once in the past year and she only lives 10 miles away. We meet for lunch or dinner every now and again and we text and email the rest of the time. In defense of texting, I feel I have better sense of my sister’s everyday life by texting with her so often. Still, those home visits used to be so important.

Recommendations and Lessons Learned

I recommend reading this book to anyone. It has many enlightening moments and it is one of those books that you will find yourself in the pages. It will make most readers stop and wonder what kind of shadow work occupies the most of their leisure time.

Recognizing a situation exists is the first step in resolving any issues that makes one unhappy about the situation. This book just may be able to show you how to pick up more leisure time and reconnect to people in person.

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1619025256]
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