paul vidal - pragmatic big data nerd

You should not try to be more productive

by paul 0 Comments
You should not try to be more productive
Coffee, a gift from the gods

You should not try to be more productive

Sometimes, my job requires long hours to meet impossible deadlines. I think that this is a situation with which many people can empathize. So much so that the self help industry is riddled with recipes to optimize your work habits, and become more productive. Leaving aside the overwhelming pseudoscientific nature of most of the self-help industry, productivity has become a market. Apps, website, gurus, all working to make you work better and more efficiently. Here what I think: trying to be productive is counter productive.

Where the productivity industry fails

If you start diving into productivity advice, you will start to have the feeling that productivity is like a cauldron. A cauldron that accumulates anyone’s latest advice concoction, no mater its origin. Want to be more productive? Eat Kale. Listen to music with a tempo accelerated by 5%. Take notes on paper because it sticks in your memory better. Do adult coloring. Play brain training apps that have no scientific backup what so ever. Always reach inbox zero or always make sure that you have at least 10000 emails unread. Anything goes. Anything will make you more productive. In hindsight, fantasizing about being more productive is a great way to procrastinate. To be perfectly transparent, I’m guilty of having read a lot of these articles in my days. OK, literally (in its proper sense) a few months ago. I could argue that I was just reading them for entertainment but I’m more honest than that. I get fooled often, which is why I have a lot to write about. Take a step back on these productivity advice, and I think you will reach the same conclusion as I do: most of them are a mix of unproven facts, common sense and non applicable pieces of advice that take away actual productive time.

What I do instead

But Paul, does that mean that we are doomed to be as efficient as we are today with no improvement route what so ever? Yes. Also, life has no meaning. But that’s besides the point. Of course, there is always room for improvement. So here is what I suggest to do instead of trying to be productive: 1. Prioritize. 2. Execute. That’s it. Prioritizing is a necessary evil but should not be taking too much of time. The best way to do it is to do it on small chunks, like an everyday to do list. Most of the time should be spent on executing however. Once I’m executing something, I never think twice about the priority. This is why I run every day without ever thinking of what I could do instead. It is on my list, I have to do it, so I do it. I do not think that going any deeper than this has any value, really. Just list what you need to do, and do the things. It’s important to note that sometimes, due to lack of time of ever unpredictable facts of life, execution fails. This just means that another prioritizing cycle needs to happen.

After thoughts

As many of my less technical posts, this article is obviously an opinion piece. The reason I started this blog in the first place is to share things I learned throughout my career without anyone spelling it out simply to me. It is not aimed to be definitive, since my opinions are prone to change, but instead is aimed at provoking conversations and trigger perhaps more thorough scrutiny and even scientific evaluation of the methods of productivity. It would be interesting to dive into this subject, but unfortunately for me, my tasks are prioritized, and this is not one of them, so…. back to work!

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