We are obsessed with productivity.

Not me. Nooooo.

Even for those who are not constantly bombarded with work demands outside the office, the ubiquity of information processing presents a temptation to be on call at all times. Our world has become an ambient factory from which there is no visible exit and there exists an industry of self-help technologies devoted to teaching us how to be happy workers. “Is information overload killing your productivity?” asks a representative business story. The answer is to adopt yet more productivity strategies. The labour of work is thus extended to encompass the labour of learning how to keep up with your work (specialised techniques, such as “Inbox Zero”, to manage the email tsunami) as well as the labour of recovering from your work in approved ways.

“Exercise,” advises one business magazine feature. “It makes you more productive.” In a perfect world, you would be getting exercise while you work—standing desks and even treadmill desks are sold as magical productivity enhancers. In the future, we’ll enjoy the happy possibility of carrying on with our work while out running, thanks to “wearable computing” devices such as Google Glass, which has the potential to become the corporate equivalent of the electronic tags that record the movements of criminals.

Productivity is Taking Over Our Lives – Steven Poole, New Republic (13 December 2013)

Notice the title there: “Productivity is taking over our lives”. That’s the title as billed by the website New Republic but if you go to that site and to that article, the title you see is different. It’s “Against the Insufferable Cult of Productivity”. More, New Republic is actually reprinting an article that first appeared in The New Statesman where it was called “Why the cult of hard work is counter-productive”.

Are headline writers paid on an hourly rate?

Could the time you spend writing so many headlines be more productively spent on – um, well, okay, maybe the article has a teeny point. Little bit. Read the full piece.

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