This is the blog of Vivek Haldar

Productivity porn

It’s like a finger pointing at the moon. Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all of the heavenly glory! — Bruce Lee.

The internet is full of productivity tips and techniques, more accurately known as productivity porn. It’s like McDonalds trying to sell you healthy food. You know that is what you should eat, but when you actually get there you end up eating the nutrition-free fast food.

And I plead guilty. I’ve tried them all. Every now and then I stare into the chaotic abyss of the stuff I need to keep on top of, and decide what will save me is a new system. Of course, it doesn’t.

I’ve learned a few things the hard way that are not often mentioned.

If you really deeply care about something, you will do it. You will do it without needing a list or a system or a reminder. No, your brain will not feel cluttered by the burden of having to remember it. If it happens to be a complex task with many steps, you’ll make a list, without thinking “oh look I’m doing GTD.”

So what do you need a system for? You need it for chores. The stuff you don’t want to do, but you need to. The stuff which is easy put off but will hurt in due time. Stuff like paying bills and calling customer service.

Do not confuse activity for progress. Sometimes blind activity can be a palliative, a false reassurance that we are moving forward. It takes courage to stop and ask if what is being done is actually having any impact—on our lives and our work and our happiness. We know the answer will often make us wince.

Copyright 2008-2013 Vivek Haldar