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The Modern Man: Productivity Addiction

August 11, 2011

Why be productive?

Productivity has always been a goal of ambitious professionals, 20-somethings, 30-somethings…Hell, just about everybody. The predominant idea (at least in the United States) is that working (very / very, very) hard will bring you success and happiness, and that increased productivity means increased life satisfaction. This is engendered in our culture, there’s no escaping it. Cross off those to-do list items so you can impress your boss, impress your family and/or parents, and make your life better! (Seriously, if you don’t believe me, look at the previous link. Americans are happier as they work more, versus Europeans who grow increasingly unhappy as they work more.) This has left the ground fertile for a cottage industry of productivity guides and gurus who promise to make your life easier with their system. Use these tools, act this way, and think these thoughts – don’t worry, everything will turn out well, I promise!

Productivity makes us feel good about ourselves. It lets us say: “I did this.” This is a good thing. If we never did anything with ourselves, surely the world would be worse off. Unfortunately, it’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking we are productive. In fact, it’s probably even easier than actually being productive. People get addicted. Why? Because tweaking your productivity system is easy, but it still gives you the accomplishment high. Real productivity as actually hard (gasp). Trying to become more productive becomes a task all its own, and some begin to dedicate a large part of their free time to doing so, barely realizing that the time working on their productivity system is better spent elsewhere. Each time a new to-do app comes out, they drool and slobber over it, thinking that it will turn them into a productivity god and/or better human being. I’m definitely guilty of this; this isn’t a rant so much as a self-loathing reflection. I turned into a ProdAdd. It’s kind of like a Crawdad, except less tasty! Bleh.

Next time I’ll introduce you to David Allen, creator of by far the most popular productivity system, Get Things Done (GTD). The guy who said:

A while ago we discovered that it’s easier for people to buy into a personality than a process, so what the heck?

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