In defence of productivity porn

productivity porn lit review hqProductivity porn has a bad reputation and for good reason. It’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to procrastination. It comes up to you promising to be the answer to all your productivity problems but under the surface, it’s just a huge black hole waiting to devour your time and energy.

Productivity porn is an apt name because these techniques are often very flashy and wholly unrealistic, both in terms of the implementation and the results that you are supposed to see. In moments of boredom and weakness during our writing, the productivity porn becomes overwhelmingly alluring. When we would do anything to eek another productive minute out of our day we turn to our friend – productivity porn.

So you get the idea, but what is productivity porn. I want examples damn it!

Well, it’s not so easy actually. Probably the best examples are software. To-Do lists, time boxing apps and the like……..

But, It’s not all bad

The problem with productivity porn is that its effect is usually short lived and very difficult to implement over the long term.

But this can be incredibly useful. Think of the marathon runner taking on sugary electrolyte drinks during a race. This drinks are not healthy and you wouldn’t drink them under normal circumstances. However during a race when your body is exhausted, the provide a much needed boost.

Productivity tools can work a lot like this. While they might only last for a week or a month, if they increase your productivity during this time then it must be worth it right?

The funny thing is, even if the tool itself doesn’t inherently improve your productivity, the very fact that you have decided to implement it can act as a psychological trigger to work in a more energetic and productive way.

And because productivity porn is normally short lived, you have to use lots of different techniques to get sustained benefit. The cool thing is that once you have left a productivity tool on the shelf for a while, you can usually come back to it and use it like new. The added benefit the second time round is that you don’t have to learn how to implement it.

So I would say to you, don’t avoid productivity porn altogether but think of it like an addictive substance, caffeine, alcohol or sugar. By using it you can get some desirable effect, but if you use it too much you may become addicted and completely unproductive.

Comments

  1. Keith says

    While you could have chosen a different title for it, I guess it does make your point. :) My best thing I’ve done for productivity doesn’t have to do with porn at all, it has to do with writing basically every day. I start my mornings with a cup of coffee and set aside at least 1 hour to writing. It’s been pretty remarkable. No porn here. Just an effective habit that does deliver what it promises.

    • says

      Yes Keith that is a great habit to get in to. It works well for me too and many of my students.

      As for the title, I suppose it’s deliberately provocative to be attention grabbing, although I didn’t come up with the term “productivity porn”. However, it has had a lasting impact on me. Whenever I try a new productivity technique, I always think “is this just productivity porn or a genuine tool”. If it’s very easy to implement, involves technology and takes no extra time – I’m normally pretty suspicious :)

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