#25 Productivity is a trap, don't fall for it

I think I’m too fargone.


I’ve been reading two books a day this week (trashy books, nothing worth summarising) and topping that off with more “respectable” essays on the human condition to take the guilt away. The guilt of wasting my time. The guilt of not doing enough. The guilt of not doing enough of the right thing.


Yesterday I started thinking of the ways I used to read as a child. Paperbacks only. A book a day max, but usually it would take me 2 or 3. I’d never read two books at a time, I’d appreciate and savour every moment. I had absolutely no shame or guilt as I indulged in the escapism and joy.


Today, I have a tonne of apps for reading. I have capture systems (which I love, I will admit), techniques to speed read, categories of books I allow myself depending on how “good” I’ve been. I can get through more information than I ever managed to before. And what do I do with all this free time? I just read more.


It’s been the same for everything. The faster I can write essays and memorise information, the more university degrees I sign up for. The faster I can type, the more hours of work I end up doing.

And so I the more productive I get, the more hours of work I end up doing.


It’s never been the case of “hey, this new app just freed me 1h a day! I guess I can just wrap things up earlier” but rather “brilliant, I can add 10 more items to my to-do-list and maintain the same levels of discomfort and worry as to whether I can get everything done”.


I wonder if I was slower, more present, less efficient, more like my younger self, I would enjoy things more? I often feel as though I used to be ridiculous in how ineffectively I used to approach working, but maybe that was the best at working I’ve ever been.


I think productivity is addictive. Not because the speed gives me any joy (in many ways, I’m ashamed of it), but because the sheer variety and quantity of things I can consume and do in a day is so stimulating.


If you’re anything like me, how do you cope and balance it all?

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