Is Productivity Dead?

Last Updated Nov 25, 2008 11:13 AM EST

314424488_dec7cf0885_m.jpgYesterday, I read a great blog post by Brad Blackman on Mysterious Flame that put into words something that's been running around the back of my mind lately -- namely, that the productivity trend is on the downslide.

As Blackman puts it, the whole "productivity" scene appears to have lost steam. And I agree. In some of the historically popular productivity blogs, participation and interest have waned, or in some cases ceased altogether. I wrote recently about how one of my fave productivity gurus, Merlin Mann, has ditched the original concept of his 43 Folders blog and is now more focused on creativity. Another of my go-to reads, David Zinger, has also switched gears recently.

So what's going on? Is productivity really dead?

I think it's more that the productivity movement has gotten so complicated it's defeating its original purpose. After all, when you spend more time cataloging your files and your to-do lists and your calendar than you spend actually DOING stuff, it's pretty useless, don't you think?

That's why I've never hopped on the official Getting Things Done/David Allen bandwagon. I'm not saying it's not a great system that works for a lot of people. But I am saying it's too granular and too time-consuming to work for me -- and for many of the busy professionals I know.

And I think people are now backlashing against the idea that you have to have a complicated, all-encompassing, workflow-based system in place to be truly productive. As Nick Cernis put it, our obsession with productivity can get in the way of our lives.

For me, finding shortcuts to streamline my day is a better approach than wholeheartedly converting to a global productivity methodology. And that's what I've been trying to share with my Team Taskmaster readers: tips and strategies that you can implement in part, or in whole, to make your lives just a little bit faster, easier, and more productive. It's more a "Get in, get some ideas, get on with your day" approach than a "Revamp your entire life from the ground up" philosophy.

So, no, productivity isn't dead. It's just that we need to make our productivity endeavors fit into the dynamics of our daily lives, rather than ruling them.

(image by abbydonkrafts via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.