Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Productivity Binging: The Trap of Just Reading One More Lifehack

Allow me to be honest with you: I’ve been hoarding productivity advice for the last four years of my life.

I'm the person with the blog feed who snacks on Lifehacker and Dumb Little Man posts throughout the day. I'm the person who has gone through four different bookmarking systems in an attempt to corral all my saved internet knowledge. I'm the person who found Stumbleupon at age 18 or so, falling head-first into the void of just how much how-to advice the World Wide Web can offer. I know about standing desks, the Pomorodo Method, 20/10s, the 80/20 ratio, timers, apps, dual-booting, dedicated workspaces, "Save Time with This One Weird Old Trick", and if I'm speaking Greek to you, I am quite glad you haven't fallen into the same rabbit hole.

I'm done with it.

For the past month, I've been reading more than anything. A side-effect of being too busy and away from the internet too often to be sucked into its Advice Alleys for another lifehack, I've been more attached to an ereader and paperbacks than my laptop. And you know what? I feel better. I've started deleting bookmarks full of ways to wake up earlier or download audiobooks into one's brain while lifehacking a kitchen with Command hooks and twine.

Do I still itch to see how other people appear, unruffled and awake, at the "I'm a Real Adult" train every morning? Of course. But now I go for the more positive experience of reading about the schedules of writers and artists who lived outside of the protective walls of a family manor and all the security that one entails. Isn't it better to read about how William James never formed regular habits, working on his book while using himself as an example of a "miserable human" whose only habit is "indecision"? Or of Kafka going nuts as he tries to write in the wee hours to avoid the family that fills his small house? I can get behind Samuel Johnson, the man with the most iconic biographer to date, who said, "I myself have never persisted in any plan for two days together."*

Like those who succeeded by burning midnight oil or by chastising themselves over their own lack of productive willpower, I'm going to find my own way. I've got to carve out my time in the pre-work hours or when I'd rather be watching fistfuls of MST3K to unwind after said work.

Maybe, if I keep it up, I'll get back those hours I spent preparing for a productive routine that never fit me in the first place.

*Currey, Mason. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Knopf, 2013. eBook.

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