Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Productivity is Dead. Long Live Productivity"

"Productivity is Dead. Long Live Productivity." That quote is from one of Dustin Wax's latest post over at Stepcase Lifehack. In his post Dustin discusses the various backlash movements against "productivity" and Getting Things Done (GTD) in particular. He talks about 43 Folders Merlin Mann's movement away from what he calls "Productivity Pr0n" earlier this year, Glen Stansberry of LifeDev's redefining of the site and Leo Babauta's Zen To Done (ZTD) ideas from a year earlier. The post is titled "Toward a New Vision of Productivity, Part 1: Transformation" and is a good read. There are to be twelve different installments of this series so it will be very interesting to follow along for the next few weeks and should be a must read for all the GTD productivity hacks around the world.

What seems odd to me, however, is that many are seemingly pronouncing the end of productivity and all the blogs, news, hacks, and more that have become the staple of "productivity" over the past few years. It's as if the big dogs have burned out and thus the rest of us must follow. That the end of productivity is near and we all must find something else to obsess over.

Actually, it appears the main issue is the focus seemingly has been on productivity for productivity's sake, and not for the main purpose of the by-line of Getting Things Done - "The Art of Stress Free Productivity". Like the humans we are, everyone seems to have focused on the easy part: the process, the system, the structure, and not the rest of the book. From my read of the book, a big point of getting all the stuff and 'things to do' organized in a 'system', was not to prove how productive we are or get a more done, it was to get all that stuff organized and out of your head so you concentrate on those things that ARE important such as the things that have meaning. That 50,000 foot concept that Allen talks about in Getting Things Done - the looking at your purpose of being on the planet type of thought.

In reality that is the HARD part of life - the thinking part that makes us stop the busy work and look at where we've been, where we are going, and what we are looking for out of life. Getting Things Done was never meant to be the panacea of life to me, it was meant to be one means of getting past the "busyness" of the day to day life and on towards the end meaning of life which I feel is enjoy living and living what you enjoy.

Zen To Done, which I personally favor, expands the core GTD process steps of Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Do, adds some to cover other items outlined in Getting Things Done and put them into basic 'habits' which are easier to understand than how it is outlined in the book. Honestly that concept was very helpful for a simple someone like me. If you look at GTD in general you see the first three habits of Covey to Be Proactive, Begin With the End in Mind, and Put First Things First right there inside GTD - it's just a process for doing so.

So is Productivity Dead? Hopefully not but maybe Productivity for Productivity's Sake is dead. No loss there for sure. Mann says “If you’ve crossed the river, you should quit carrying the boat.” but there will be many different "rivers" in life that you'll need that productivity boat so I for one will not be selling my productivity boat just yet.

Check out Dustin's series and post your own comments here and there - it should be an interesting start for 2009.
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