Why You Should Stop Being “Productive”
Disclaimer: I don’t like “productivity”. I think that people misunderstand what it means to be “productive” so much that chasing the holy grail of “productivity” ends up being destructive rather than beneficial. That’s because we, in our over-reliance on measurement and logic as human beings, have decided to deliberately change the meaning of what it means to be “productive”. What we know as “productivity” is actually faux-productivity. It’s fake productivity. It’s no good. It’s just about useless as a concept. And, yet, when we try and determine how “productive” we are, we almost always resort to using faux-productivity as a way to gauge how efficiently we get our work done. At this point, you’re probably wondering what in Zeus’s name I’m talking about. So I’ll give you a handy-dandy definition for faux-productivity as a way to soothe your souls. Faux-productivity is, essentially, how much work or how many things you get done in a certain amount of time. That is, you are more efficient if you get some amount of work done in a shorter amount of time. If you’d like a mathematical model of faux-productivity, it’s this – things done / time. That’s it. Faux-productivity is, basically, the rate at which you cross things off of your to-do list. Notice that, whenever anyone talks about “productivity”, what they really mean is faux-productivity. They’re just concerned with how fast they get their work done. And that, my friends, is bad news. Why? Because, of course, it values quantity over quality. You get a bigger Efficiency Ego (EE, for short) if you complete things really really really outrageously fast. Your EE doesn’t care how well you do them – it just cares how rapidly they get done. Your EE just looks at a poor job and says, “Hey, I got that and like 40,000 other things done in 2 minutes, so it doesn’t matter if I made a couple little mistakes,” even if those ‘little mistakes’ involve inputting things drastically wrong on your tax forms, which could result in problems with the authorities. No matter how poorly you do (unless you fail spectacularly), your EE will always look the other way if you do things poorly, as long as you are being very, very “productive”. The faster you are, the better. Needless to say, that kind of attitude is awful, unless you are doing very repetitive tasks that require zero – and I mean zero – thought or skill to do. In which case, yeah, your productivity is determined by how quickly you do things. But you’re no assembly-line worker! Most things you do require some skill and effort to do. And working fast all the time just makes you burnt out because you’re not taking the time to enjoy your work.