“Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.” — Alan Watts, British philosopher
A close friend of mine has recently told me that I totally should become a productivity guru, give people advice on social media, preach productivity as if it was my second name. Indeed, I am able to get quite a lot of stuff done in short amounts of time. Yet I believe that productivity is horribly overrated. How so? It does not really mean much beyond its application in the field of economics (where it has a clear, meaningful definition), it is overused by self-development gurus (khem, khem), and it can easily get us “walking circles” — as in “she is able to do a lot of stuff quickly because she is very productive, that is, because she can do a lot of stuff quickly” (most commonly used definition of high productivity is producing high output using low inputs, that is achieving much with low input of resources, such as time).
I can already see my closest friends smirking. Nina, also known as Productivity Nin(j)a, talking about how productivity is bollocks. Jokes on you, Nin(j)a. Indeed, I used to be very proud about how productive I can be.
How did I notice that I am? Even when I started studying at Oxford, which is said to be the place with some of the smartest people in the world, it often seemed like my colleagues are miles behind in terms of how much output (e.g. essays) they can squeeze out of the same amount of input (time, lecturers’ help).
When I started working in a corporate environment, being “terribly fast with things” was possibly the feedback that I heard most often, in a couple of different companies. Similarly, people often told me that they cannot imagine how am compromising working full-time with significant commitments in two startups, plentiful reading (see January in Books) and daily running.
In fact, I have no issue with people saying that I am productive — I most certainly am. What I have an issue with is using this concept as a character trait (or learned skill) that explains someone’s above average performance.
Therefore, let me proceed to walk you through five aspects that I find more meaningful and actionable than productivity itself. The order of the items is random and I do not think…