Productivity at all costs
8 years ago I would not have written this post. Back then it was cool to wake up at 6 just to be the first one to find out about the latest start-up to get funded, it was ok to eat in front of the computer just to go through my 600+ feed articles during lunch time, it was expected that I would have time to do my job, blog every day, maintain both my Fb and Twitter accounts with different content strategies, know everything there was not know about anything marketing related, hang out with my cool entrepreneur friends. Back then having a car to take me to work faster, a flat closer to the city centre and all the devices and apps in the world was required because it fed into my lifestyle of being alway on top of everything.
The need for uber-productivity and the level it’s gotten to scare me a bit today. I love being productive. I organise things, I keep a zero inbox, I eliminate blogs that waste my time from my reader, I follow only 17 people on Twitter because I have figured out that some of them already share the stuff that I would get from 100 other sources, I buy online so I don’t have to fight the incoming flood of lost tourists at Oxford Street, I drink smoothies and eat pre-packages salads when my day is very busy, I sync calendars and set reminders. But things like Soylent and this jacket here scare the shit out of me because I do not get them. I am not sure what we’re optimising for when the act of detangling your headphone chord has become too time consuming (it’s literally 40 seconds for any decent headphone set) that we need an innovation in built into a jacket.
I don’t like Mic Wright, a writer for TNW, mostly because he things there’s a way to mix being a covert socialist with technology (wake up, dude! you’re mistaking the ability to make code with the free distribution of a chicken’s eggs which means you’re overlooking the fact that not everybody has chicken i.e. is computer literate enough to make ass-kicking code i.e. technology is based on an intrinsic human capacity which is not evenly distributed i.e. unless you get socialist coders willing to code for the good of everyone else, which you will never do because they have been forever scarred by the likes of cool looking tech writers, you will never get tech progress the way you imagine it) but he does have a point in this article about the creator of Soylent. This is not about criticising other people’s life choices but at least we should not make it sound like this is the common sensical thing to do: renouncing kitchens, cooking, washing clothes and all the things that basically prevent us from “doing what we love” (another thing I have some good links about).
Productivity is mostly about reducing friction in the tasks that prevent you from becoming a “fucking human being” – as someone adeptly put in in a recent sitcom. It’s for when your 9 to 5 is spilling into 7 to 10 and you need some order in your duties and routines, or for when you think you simply have too many jumpers and tidying your closet is beginning to look like an episode of Hoarders. Productivity is not here to eliminate life from life. I clearly remember George Clooney explaining the concept of being a pro at flying by packing light, carry-on only, queueing behind Japanese business men to reduce time in security (Up in the Air was the movie), and all for the lovely goal of getting to fire more people and then come back to your small, dingy, lonely flat.
I am clearly wrong with this rant because that jacket has been founded to the 1000th over its initial goal. So there’s still a lot of people out there whose 1 minute inflating a neck pillow gets in the way (!!!!!) of whatever it is they need to do on a plane as it taxies them to their next assignment. What I don’t get is why, when we found something that works – like simple rules for improved productivity so you can go home and roast your roast, don’t we just stop, be content, and move on to the next thing that needs fixing.