Dr. Helen

My New Year's Resolution: Stop Doing Shadow Work!

I generally don’t do New Year’s resolutions but last New Year’s,  I decided to quit doing so much shadow work.   What is  shadow work, you ask?  I got the name from a book I read called  Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day.  Most of life these days seems to be filled with endless tasks that take up one’s time:

Shadow work includes all the unpaid tasks we do on behalf of businesses and organizations. It has slipped into our routines stealthily; most of us do not realize how much of it we are already doing, even as we pump our own gas, scan and bag our own groceries, execute our own stock trades, and build our own unassembled furniture. But its presence is unmistakable, and its effects far-reaching.

Fueled by the twin forces of technology and skyrocketing personnel costs, shadow work has taken a foothold in our society. Lambert terms its prevalence as “middle-class serfdom,” and examines its sources in the invasion of robotics, the democratization of expertise, and new demands on individuals at all levels of society. The end result? A more personalized form of consumption, a great social leveling (pedigrees don’t help with shadow work!), and the weakening of communities as robotics reduce daily human interaction.

So my resolution for this year is similar to last year:  reduce the amount of time I waste doing stuff I don’t want to do. But it’s hard because if you want anything done, you have to endure shadow work.   But why put myself out just to save a few bucks or get stuff I don’t need?

More specifically, I want to quit using so many store coupons and discount cards.  For whatever reason,  I carry around numerous  store cards for discounts that never work. I went to the hardware store yesterday with one but found out I had not spent enough to use the coupon. But instead of getting a bunch of stuff I didn’t want or need, I tossed the coupon in the trash on the way out the door. It was very freeing.

So that’s my resolution for the New Year, what’s yours?