DEV Community

loading...
Cover image for The Lies of Productivity Porn

The Lies of Productivity Porn

catriel profile image Catriel Lopez ・4 min read

If there's something we can all agree on, it's that we would love to be more productive. Just take a look at the almost ten thousand posts published under #productivity, or the 13501 books on the subject on GoodReads (as of September 2020).

We would love it, yet we aren't. Whether we find the tasks before us tedious, scary or boring, there's always something else to do. Something better. Something urgent or entertaining. Of course we know that we shouldn't, that there shouldn't be anything more important than our responsibilities. And yet, we still do it. Time and time again.

We look for guidance on the subject, diving into self-help books, courses and talks. We sit on a mountain of strategies and plans that don't amount to anything, because we are still not productive enough. And yet it feels good!

Planning!

Surely learning and planning about optimizing my agenda can't be wrong, right? Learning how to better yourself can't be unproductive! But, as you read and learn and plan about this, have you actually move forward with your tasks? Or are you spending more time thinking about your schedule than doing stuff?

This is called Productivity Porn.

XKCD - Time Management
Original XKCD comic.

What are we talking about?

Productivity porn is just another form of procrastination. We spend (too much) time thinking about what we are gonna do, what bullet journals do we need, what new apps are out there that can help us keep track of time, and reading "Top 10 tips to avoid procrastinating (#3 will SHOCK you!)". And like any other form of procrastination it leads to poorer health, more perceived stress, and fewer wellness behaviors.

When I'm in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.
Haruki Murakami

Take a look at that, how wonderful, how inspiring. Even reading about it feels great.

Why doesn't mine look like that?!

So why doesn't mine look like that?!

We all want to be like Murakami or whoever else you are comparing yourself to. We tend to copy their lifestyle, but sooner or later we find out it's not the right thing for us. We are different. We have different lifestyle, thinking patterns, and responsibilities from them. You should only compare yourself to you.

Claire Major has this great article called “Productivity during a pandemic” where she talks about how the combination of events on this glorious 2020 makes it harder for people to write, even if “writing helps [them] cope with the stresses and distractions”. Add to this the (new?) peer pressure of being extra productive and not waste a single moment, and your anxiety levels will go through the roof!

(And did you even consider "who is this ‘hustle culture' actually benefiting?")

Caught in a trap, you can't walk out (yet)

Is there a way out? Well, it's a tricky subject. Can I really say yes without providing an answer that falls under the porn label?

Productivity porn betrays personal insecurity. The most productive people I know don't read these books, they don't watch these videos, they don't try a new app every month. They are far too busy getting things done to read Getting Things Done. But what they've also come to accept is that working hard is indeed, just hard work. There's no trick to it.
The Trap of Productivity Porn - Jamesbedell

We don't spend enough time doing the things we are avoiding. Well, duh! that's what got us here on the first place! But it really is that simple. There are no magic words that will make it all better. Its just work.

But that's not what this article was about: I'm not here to give you the magic answer. The point is that we don't even realize we are not being productive, because passive thinking can give us the illusion of productivity and won't even help us to build productive habits. That's it. Not a solution to the base problem, just a heads up: hey, this is not as productive as you may think it is.

What about you? What has been your experience like? I want to hear about it!


More about this

  1. Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure
  2. I Am So Over Productivity Porn
  3. From productivity porn to mindful productivity

Cover photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

Discussion (3)

pic
Editor guide
Collapse
svemaraju profile image
Srikanth

Excellent write up. Thanks for sharing.

Collapse
nitishtiwari profile image
Nitish Tiwari

Thank you so much for writing this.

Collapse
catriel profile image
Catriel Lopez Author

Thank you for reading it!