Productivity is fundamentally rooted in a capitalistic society’s values, and it is understandable since the only way to earn money and get to the top is to work hard and pay your dues. However, there is a fine line between striving for something and obsessing over it. I found that I had crossed this line the day I had a 101 fever, and I prioritized going to school rather than staying home and resting. But I’m not the only one – Apple’s App store has an entire category of productivity tools, and billions of users are privy to them. With names like “Self Control,” “Omnifocus,” “Rescue Time,” even “Freedom,” these apps aid in time management, organization, and efficiency… And also support your transition from a powerful, thoughtful human to a mindless machine.
I also don’t want to be misunderstood: it’s entirely logical to maximize our time and accomplish more during any given day. After all, that’s how we progress as a society. What a find quite baffling is when did productivity become a measure of accomplishment? Reading a novel for pleasure might not be “productive” in the traditional sense, but it does appeal to your emotions, and you do learn things from the book. So, you do get something out of it and you have accomplished reading the book! However, it is dismissed as a leisurely hobby, only applicable to the rich. Work has also spilled over from the office to the train, airplane, hotel room, even bed, and this really shows the consumer drive for hyperproductivity. As a result of this warped way of thinking, many people feel extremely guilty if they aren’t working all the time. Harboring such ideology actually hampers their productivity because it increases stress and anxiety levels because now, there are only two states of being – working or procrastinating from work. Thus, an obsession with productivity only backfires.
Moreover, contrary to conventional wisdom, research suggests that happiness leads to success, not the other way around, meaning it would benefit us to shift our focus from achieving future happiness to accessing that joy right now. So, next time, your inner critic fights slam you with, “You’ve got work to get done—of course, you shouldn’t go out tonight!”, remind yourself that happiness succedes productivity, and productivity falls.
Let me reiterate – I’m not saying we shouldn’t have and pursue goals. I’m also not suggesting we should find ways to avoid work. Instead, we can transform ourselves and our lives not just through the results of our labor but through the efforts themselves. We can all create a reality that is not just a means but an end in itself. I will leave you with a brilliant quote by Alduous Huxley, author of an exceptional novel, Brave New World.
But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.
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