The Cult of Productivity

My office, the den of productivity.

My office, the den of productivity.

I confess the following: I’ve read David Allen. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on productivity apps since roughly 2008 (that time aligning with my first year in law school). I’ve tried multiple methods for being more productive. On my iPhone, I have an app for the Pomodoro technique, a list app for GTD (getting things done, see David Allen link above), along with numerous other business tools. A while back, I obsessively digested posts on Lifehacker for products and processes to improve what-I’m-not-exactly-sure. 

Who wouldn’t want to be more productive? Being more productive gives you control over your time. I hadn’t questioned this until recently. I’ve innately bought into this narrative that time is scarce, and one way to handle that scarcity is to force oneself to be better focused, more efficient.

I’m not directly challenging that narrative. I pray often to be a good steward of the time I am given, just like I do with the precious resources of money, food, and shelter. All of these things are gifts, and we are not all given them in the same measure.I want to attend to these gifts well with gratitude. What I am challenging is this notion that there is a product or process, which I can shop for, that will be my golden ticket.

My problem with this cult of productivity (I owe this piece attribution for the title) may be more one of its grand supposition—that we are at our best when we are most productive and, ergo, most focused on how productive we are. It could also be one of terminology: I would much prefer the word diligence.

Diligence to me means that I am not a cog. I am someone who has been given something, trusted with it, who has a privileged duty to make the best use of it. With this definition, I have found clarity in my thoughts on work. I am better in tune with how others rely on me, how I am not in this alone, and how I should be a good steward of my time and my work by pursuing tasks with something more akin to devotion. And there is joy and satisfaction in this approach, fruit not found when I was focused on capturing time (finding “life hacks”) in the name of productivity.

To diligence today. #minsgame count: 79