Productivity is the real epidemic.
It feels like everyone is trying to bleed out every minute from their calendar that they can to win some mystery trophy nobody gives a crap about. It’s even worse in the workplace where it’s an Olympic sport.
Over-optimizing your time misses a few important things …
*Not* being productive makes you a giant weirdo
I don’t do these things:
- Keto diet
- 4 AM alarms
- Cold plunges
- Progress updates
- Intermittent fasting
- Urgent work first thing in the morning
- First principles thinking (always forget what it is)
Given I write about self-improvement a lot of people think I’m a weirdo. Strangers assume I’m not driven or have a screw loose.
Or as one reader said “since you’ve had a kid you’ve become soft and boring.” I’m cool with that.
Doing crazy productivity activities as a sort of Broadway performance feels stupid to me. It’s like those dudes in the office at work who brag about working long hours and staying back late.
Overworking is a sign of low IQ.
We’re not robots
But it feels like it. Seriously.
All this optimization makes me feel like I’m a piece of factory equipment in a Thailand sweatshop that has to run 24/7.
Sure you can have every minute of your day accounted for, but do you know how bloody stressful that is? Looking at the time as though it’s slipping through your hands only makes its value feel worthless.
The best days are when I don’t look at the clock.
There’s nothing I love more than pissing time up against the wall. As long as it’s with the right people in the right environment, I’m good.
Robots work to schedules. They perform tasks without asking why. I feel like this time-optimization epidemic is unnatural. And as AI takes over it’s going to get even weirder to see humans run like digital machines.
Productivity can destroy your happiness
Are all these productivity gurus and hustlers happy?
I don’t think they are. I reckon they sit at home and face an existential crisis every day. But they don’t admit it because that’d be uncool for all their fake followers, who don’t give a sh*t about them, to see.
The most productive times of my life have been the unhappiest. When I worked a job I had back-to-back Zoom meetings all day. It drove me nuts. All this productivity nukes the times we need to think.
When we don’t think we start to follow the mindless path and become unconscious. The best way to live is by living in a higher state of consciousness. That requires free time, mindfulness, and rest.
If you optimize every minute and always feel busy, ask yourself, are you happy? Does it feel good? I bet you $1M it doesn’t.
The source of all this productivity pain
I love online business and entrepreneurship.
But like anything, it has a dark side. Somewhere along the way entrepreneurs started promoting these crazy work schedules.
That led to ice baths, running marathons before work, and Peloton selfie photos in the evening while watching tv.
These entrepreneurs started this movement then it bled into everything else. They just did it as a form of marketing.
They weren’t serious but somehow masses of people feel for it.
If you act like a high-performing founder with the best atomic habits in the world, the lie is, it’ll secretly help you raise money from legendary Silicon Valley investors. Your hustle’ll wow them.
It’s not true though.
Good businesses help customers, build community, and most importantly, make a profit.
The madness of the last three years shows that all this productivity p*rn didn’t make startups more profitable — the exact opposite happened.
Let us all stop acting like we need to relentlessly optimize our schedules as if we’re founders of unicorn startups. Rainbow unicorns are a fantasy full of demons and only my 5 month old daughter believes in them.
(Daddy will save her when she’s old enough.)
What to do instead of overoptimize
First, take a chill pill.
Slow down to speed up. Take a few deep breaths.
If you’re trying to maximize every minute, like I was in my 20s, it’s probably anxiety in disguise. Most of these productivity weirdos are a walking, talking anxiety disorder in camouflage.
Sometimes all you need is a 2-hour piss-up in the middle of a Monday morning workday. Or to go play golf for 8 hours and forget about your goals or your #systems.
For me, my only goal is to spend time with my kid. Whatever helps me do that is what I prioritize.
As the rise of machines continues to happen, we’ve got to stop living like them. Otherwise, pretty soon, the difference between a human and an AI chatbot is going to become unrecognizable.
It’s okay to relax. It’s okay to waste a few hours. It’s okay to be unproductive for a month, or dare I say it, a year. It’s okay to take time off and be a stay-at-home dad.
It’s okay if you love your family more than your work. It’s okay if you haven’t made $1M by 16 years old. It’s okay if you’re not an entrepreneur or don’t want to change the world.
Just chillax. Life is meant to be lived not optimized.