It somewhat fitting that our topic of productivity is delayed by a slew of procrastination on my part. So in that spirit, lets talk about delicious, yummy procrastination. Whenever I delay, avoid, or push things to future Rachit’s problems list, I find that all the distractions are that much tastier. I remember reading an entire book (Richard Branson’s autobiography) during an exam period, and have a fond memory of the experience and the scrumptiousness of the words. It feels naughty and rebellious, akin to when a child is supposed to be doing his chores, but is playing video games with a chocolate stained moustache. However, other than causing issues, procrastination also has its importance in creative productivity. Tons of studies on incubation periods during problem solving, or any sort of creative activity has shown the positive effects of not thinking or not actively working on your task at hand. I probably just have a higher incubation period than you do, Valentin. Yeah, I’m going to run with this — I needed some inspiration to be productive about productivity. It’s science bro.
And here we are, productivity. Lets talk macro first. The economics of the free world, at least on this half of it, point us towards growth. Grow GDP. If GDP isn’t growing, there’s something that’s not in tact. But when we shrink down to the micro level, the philosophy isn’t always in tact. While we praise career home run hitters, the majority of us strive for that delicate B word between the two. Maybe the other side of the world is on the right end of that scale – most places in Europe, and Australia are famous for mandating an extensive amount of vacation time. A friend of mine that lives in Paris told me he gets 9 weeks of vacay a year. 9 weeks! But even beyond that, as much as I am a fan of long binges of vacay, I came across this company that mandates a 3 day weekend, every week. And I think theres something to the short vacay you don’t get with longer ones: the constant recharge, the further local exploration, and just the increase in weekly tomfoolery time. Its good for the soul. And productively speaking, its worked out well for them since implementing the policy – no major differences in output or company growth. So this isn’t that difficult of an argument to make on the micro level, everyone loves weekends, but if you take it up to the macro scale, it can start to sound silly. Take things a bit slow, don’t necessarily grow right away, stabilize and strengthen. Actually it sounds pretty sound, but these are all words and not sound science. So I went off to the God of Google, and after some tens of minutes of googling, I came up shorthanded. There are arguments to the incompleteness of GDP as a tool of growth, but a non-growth-based-emphasized economy wasn’t to be found. So when you can’t science, you go to your next best resource, Drake. No new friends. Once you’ve found a good solid group of friends, it doesn’t always make sense to keep growing your inner circle, instead spend time servicing the ones you have.
And on that note, I’m going to pass you the rock for the other angle that we wanted to discuss on the productivity topic, and thats the super micro scale of the physical constraints of actually getting some work done. Has the stimuli filled world of the internet economy physically strained our brains to be less productive? Or are we just incorrectly romanticizing the productive landscape of the past? Or both. Likely both as always, but where does the optimal balance lie?