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Our Compulsion To Be Productive

How Much Can One Person Do?

I’m always convinced that I can some how perform some sort of productivity alchemy that will allow me to arrive at perfect life balance. Is this a myth perpetrated unwittingly by a sloth of faceless guru’s and other mass media messages from which we cannot escape? Does it not seem that there is always some reference to a high minded Holy Grail concept that given our disciplined adherence would some how make everything finally click into place? It’s as if we’ve decided as a culture that more productivity will somehow allow us to escape time itself.

Is This Productivity Or Rapid Compulsiveness?

time2In a hotel room on a recent business trip, nestled next to the telephone on the work desk, a little cardboard sign beckoned: “Help us make your stay more productive.” Not “restful” or “comfortable” but “productive.”

In the hotel room as in the office, productivity increasingly stands as the default measure of accomplishment. Rest and relaxation are optional affordances against the expectation that workers make profitable use of their time. A century ago, Max Weber identified the Protestant ethic driving the spirit of capitalism, and the belief that the “waste of time is the first and in principle the deadliest of sins.” This spirit is alive and well, as any quick perusals of Fast Company’s profiles­ of the most productive people would reveal. But what is the belief system underpinning these exertions in a secular, multicultural society?

One place to look for an answer: Apple’s App store, which, like Google Play, has an entire category of productivity tools. These software services include note-taking apps, brainstorming tools, and calendar assistants. With names like “Self Control,” “Omnifocus,” “Rescue Time,” even “Freedom,” productivity solutions offer liberation from as much as consolation for everyday demands. In providing mastery over incidental matters (what time management manuals have long referred to as “trivia”), human failings can be overcome.

Productivity apps facilitate the pleasure of time management, which is ultimately the pleasure of control. Their various platforms offer strategies for closure and containment, from shutting down email and non-essential communication to identifying peak performance periods and ideal moments for efficiency. Productivity techniques deliver an enhanced relationship to time by focusing only on what is important, maximizing opportunities for optimal work “flow.” In technology design, the ultimate user experience hinges on securing this state of uninhibited flow as quickly as possible.

Read More At…

The Productivity Obsession – The Atlantic

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