What is the point of planning and productivity?
On this week’s episode of Deep Questions, Cal Newport discussed the common critiques of “Productivity Bros” and makes (I thought) very solid arguments as to why attacking the concept of productivity / organization is misplaced. It was a great episode, and I might actually listen to it again. Also, I got to thinking about where I fit in the productivity landscape. Am I a Productivity
Bro Sis? Am I leading people down a joyless path towards burnout?
I hope not, and also I really don’t think so.
I do think sometime people see all of the goal setting and planning that I recommend and think: oh my god, who wants to try to pack in so much? or how can you enjoy life when it’s so structured? or even what’s the point, I know I have too much to do and will feel overwhelmed anyway or I don’t have time to plan.
To me, planning / organizing / goal-setting (which I could also refer to as “dreaming” btw – doesn’t have to be so left-brained and hard-edged) — is about having things structured ENOUGH so that you can do the things you want to do.
And for most of us, fun and relaxation are included in those things.
I don’t think people should spend time planning in order to do more things, or to ‘optimize’ productivity. Optimization of productivity is probably bad in the long run anyway because lack of rest / sleep / down time / connection time / fun is likely to lead to burnout fairly rapidly, anyway.
I think people should spend time planning because if you have a clear understanding of your calendar, routines that prevent predictable things from becoming emergencies, practices for addressing the inputs that inevitably come at you 24/7 and rituals that ensure you spend time thinking about what you actually want out of life — you can enjoy it more.
You can go meet up with a friend without being distracted by thoughts of whether you did enough work for the day, because you planned it out and created a realistic list of tasks given the hours available.
You can truly enjoy rest days from workouts without guilt because they are there by design and intention, not because you didn’t feel like getting up that day. (If this one is just me . . . carry on!)
You can steer your career (perhaps gradually, but still!) in different directions depending on what brings you the most joy and satisfaction — and can give attention to things that frustrate so you can figure out how to improve them (if there are aspects that can change).
Anyway, I thought it was a good episode and I wanted to stand on my soapbox with him and defend planning and organizing tactics.
(ALSO, it occurred to me that planning shifts the balance from push (reaction) to pull (proaction) and in many cases can promote a feeling of autonomy. You are not forced to do XYZ because it was due yesterday and now people are mad; you have chosen XYZ as things you have decided are priorities today. It may be the same work, but it feels different. This could probably be a whole post/BLP ep so . . . more on that to come).
PS: I know, the ads have gone crazy on this site!!!! I honestly don’t know what happened. I’ve been with She Knows Media/BlogHer for ~10 yrs and didn’t tell them to change anything but all the sudden they seem to have doubled. I’m looking into it and hope to go back to the prior norm!