I often think about how humans are maladapted to our current environments in some ways. For a knowledge worker, 40 hours+ a week at a desk and more time spent looking at a screen probably isn’t what we were made for or have evolved to do. Cal Newport underscores this in a piece about our anthropology.
A mind adapted over hundreds of thousands of years for the pursuit of singular goals, tackled one at a time, often with clear feedback about each activity’s success or failure, might struggle when faced instead with an in-box overflowing with messages connected to dozens of unrelated projects. We spent most of our history in the immediate-return economy of the hunter-gatherer. We shouldn’t be surprised to find ourselves exhausted by the ambiguously rewarded hyper-parallelism that defines so much of contemporary knowledge work.
It’s an identifiable problem and Newport suggests some solutions, but they are easier to write than to implement.
→ Lessons from the Deep History of Work | The New Yorker
via Alan Jacobs