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Showing Your Work: Using a New Method

In: CodingDesignShowing my Work

A couple of weeks ago, I was kicking around ideas on revamping with new and totally awesome Twitter friend Britni Brown O’Donnell (, suggested that we might encourage showing your work in the challenges via something like Twitch streaming. If you haven’t heard of it, Twitch streaming is a service that lets gamers live broadcast their gameplay to others. YouTube allows for this, as well. And there are other services targeted towards other demographics, like programmers.

I also recently finished John Medina’s Brain Rules and am starting in on Cal Newport’s Deep Work, both of which have surfaced a tension I’ve been feeling for a while. I really believe in the ideas around Showing your Work (I really, really enjoyed Austin Kleon’s little book on the matter and highly recommend it). But at the same time, Cal Newport’s book has presented some really compelling arguments against engaging in shallow work like using social media and, instead, training myself to engage in deep, focused work without distraction. And I been becoming more conscious of days wasted when I just feel super distracted and non-focused and awful and I hate it. I really do think that I need to learn to reengage in deep work, be bored, stay focused. At the same time, Cal Newport aside, the bottom line is that, without showing my work and engaging in some of this shallow work, I will miss out on some opportunities. For better or worse, visibility in social media is expected as a professional by both fellow professionals and others.

So how can I reconcile this? (I want to be clear here that Newport does an excellent job of presenting nuance. And while his bottom line is that we should move towards drastically reducing shallow work, he also understands that the context of many knowledge workers is such that we can’t get rid of it completely.) Well that’s where we circle back to this idea of live streaming. Could this help me both engage deeply in work AND share that work? I decided to test it out.

I’ll admit that I procrastinated for at least a week on this. For some reason, the idea of live broadcasting my development work seemed really scary and intrusive. But I calmed myself down by realizing that, honestly, nobody would be watching. After woman-ing up, I realized that I needed to try this. So I did! And once I did, I really got into it! I spent two days really, really deeply engaged in creating an Adapt theme while also narrating my process. It was really helpful for me to talk about what I was doing out loud, and perhaps it might even help someone else. I really think that this can be a great blend of doing deep work, while also showing it. In fact, I’ve decided to live broadcast the entire development of this project. See the first couple of steams below. Do you see live streaming as being an opportunity to show your work?