I Hate Productivity

Just ask my current and any former supervisors. Ha-ha!
Seriously, there’s this “cult of productivity” among bloggers and other computer geeks. They trade productivity tips on 43 Folders, read Allen’s Getting Things Done, and generally geek out about it. The term for things that are supposed to make you more productive is “Life Hacks.”

It feeds into the whole “people/minds as computers/machines” metaphor that’s so endemic. There’s something vaguely creepy about valuing oneself in terms of one’s ability to “produce,” as if an “unproductive” human existence were as pointless as an uproductive factory — and perhaps as worthy of demolition. It’s like accepting the business world’s valuations of its employees and valuing oneself in those terms.

It’s surrender.

Anyway, I’d seen this article, HOWTO: Be More Productive dorking around Reddit and the like for days, and avoiding it. Finally for some reason, I clicked on it, and I was pleasantly surprised. There’s some of the nonsense I expected, but not that much. Apparently Aaron Swartz has read and digested Alfie Kohn’s work, and that makes a big difference. There’s lots of good stuff in there about intrinsic motivation and the like. So I have to give props to Aaron. He wrote a great article of a sort that I generally despise, on a topic I generally shun.

2 thoughts on “I Hate Productivity”

  1. I have both read Getting Things Done, and check in periodically on 43 Folders, but oddly enough not for any of the reasons you ascribe. For me, it’s a case of having things that I’m really excited about, but can’t spend good time upon. Sometimes that’s because the little details of life interfere, other times its because I’m not motivated at the same moments when I have available time.

    Life Hacks are just little tricks to help free up time/energy to use for fun. They also are groomed habits to make it not only possible to clear away life administrivia, but make that the most natural and transparent action to take.

    Does this make me a cog in the corporate factory?

  2. Yeah, it pretty much does, Alan. Sorry. :)

    On the upside, in your case, you also own the factory.

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