Whither Productivity

The Growing Life is a recent favorite new blog of mine. One of the things I have enjoyed in the past few weeks of checking it out is the often “alternate” takes on productivity Clay, the author, offers. He often counters many of what has become accepted ideas about productivity and lifehacking – sleep hacking for instance – with reasoned, and well researched, counter arguments.

Recently, Clay laid down the gauntlet, by making this “Alternative Productivity” the main focus of the site – “Anti-Hacks” if you will. I love some of the ideas he is trying to express here:

> Albert Einstein correctly started that “problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” Anti-hacks attempt to solve problems by approaching them at a higher level of thinking. For example, while David Allen says that peace of mind (i.e. mind like water) comes from creating exhaustive todo lists and getting everything out of your head, an anti-hack might involve meditation, because all the list-making in the world will not bring you to a meditative, mind-like-water state. An anti-hack might also involve quitting your job or taking the inefficient but nevertheless effective high road.

I think there is really something to this and am excited to see a different angle taken on the productivity/lifehack meme that I consider myself a member of. I recently posted about the trend I have noticed of productivity/lifehack bloggers becoming increasingly interested in Zen, Buddhist and Mindfulness practices. Some might argue that these ideas are in fact the opposite of what we in the western world have come to accept as “productivity”.

Then, there is the idea of asking the question – To what end are we desiring greater productivity? I often wonder if there would be less need for productivity and lifehacks if we did not feel the need to do so much. If such demands were not put upon us (expected of us) by the society we live in, the companies we work for, and the people we are accountable to. Some more food for thought – How is it that Americans work more, take less vacation, shorter breaks, yet still do not best many countries (Japan, Europe) in “productivity”. Is it because, perhaps, by doing more we are actually so stressed that we get less done?

What if, as the metaphor of “Atlas Shrugged” suggests, we simply give up on the weight of our worlds on our shoulders? What if we commit to going the other direction? This means doing less, not more. Doing it all slower, with greater attention and mindfulness, and, perhaps, actually getting things done.

Link: On Alternative Productivity and Anti-Hacks for Living | The Growing Life

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