Whenever I see a blogpost titled ‘How to be more productive’, or ‘The 5 habits of highly productive people’, I experience a gagging reflex.
In the past 5 to 10 years, blogging platforms and social media have been littered with those clickbait titles that leave you unhappy with yourself and utterly bored. Productivity articles are predictable, repetitive and add no value to people’s wellbeing; they promote an unrealistic, robotic, and inhumane vision of modern working habits.
Men and women should strive to maximise happiness. If maximising your productivity means maximising your happiness, then all is well and good, but if maximum productivity makes you miserable, then the productivity race is not for you and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.
Most of our adult life is spent sitting at a desk in an office, from 9 to 5 (or beyond) trying to squeeze as much work as possible in those hours, for the benefit of…who and what exactly? We give an employer energy and time, and in return we get a salary that gives us financial security. It’s an economic relationship that exists since the dawn of ages, and as such it respects the laws of diminishing marginal returns.
Our quest for higher output through productivity may reach a point where the happiness returns we get, are simply not worth the emotional energy and effort we put in. There is an optimum level of productivity, where both us and our employers are happy. Going above that optimum has the result of increasing our employer happiness at the expense of ours: a scenario that I would call ‘exploitation’.
So, next time you read one of those productivity articles, ask yourself “Is it really worth doing all those things for my happiness, or am I only making my employer even happier at my expense?”