These days, productivity hacks are all the professional rage. Just put the term into Google and you’ll see articles from Inc, Lifehack and most other business focused publications. But for me (and most of the workforce) productivity hacks are stupid. They aren’t a real way to work in your professional life. Of course, most people wish that they were a bit more productive when working. It’d be much easier to do more in less time. But the truth is, unless you are a business owner, your time isn’t money. Your time is somebody else’s money.
In that context, working hard — or at least more efficiently, isn’t actually all that smart. When you’re in an office, nobody cares how quickly you finish your project. You’ll just be given another one. But when you work remotely and own your time, productivity can matter. After all, you can spend more time on the leisure activities you’d like to if you aren’t working. But that doesn’t mean that things don’t come up. There’s always going to be a crisis to be averted — especially if managing client expectations at work are outside of your control.
For most people, that means that their productivity is dictated by others. There’s no hack for that. You can’t make something more efficient that you didn’t design yourself. Because of this, most workers need to follow the processes they were assigned. And most workplaces are not looking for innovation — even if they think they are. In fact, they are often looking for the opposite. You can reinvent the wheel, but its function is still to move you forward.
These tried-and-true methods to work is why productivity hacks are stupid. For the majority of us — who aren’t innovators, workplace productivity is a non-factor. If you’re a cashier at a grocery store, you’re not thinking about how quickly you can get the next customer through. You’re just trying to keep your head down and do your job. And that’s the vast majority of the workforce right there — just doing their jobs.
Only those at the top of the workforce, or at least who are highly specialized, get to innovate. That’s why I think productivity hacks are stupid. They don’t apply to almost everyone who has to work to be a part of capitalism. Work is not something that is enjoyed for most. Work is a part of life, yes, but it isn’t the purpose of life. You can enjoy your career, of course — but only if you make it that way. Productivity hacks can be a part of that, but they aren’t going to help you in a default work setting. In fact, they could be detrimental if they start to make you question the entire process altogether.
Ultimately, productivity comes from your approach. You can procrastinate all you want, but you know it won’t change your workload. Instead, the best thing to focus on is your own relationship with work. If you’re using productivity hacks just to get through your work day, then maybe your productivity isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s your relationship with your job — and that might mean it’s time for a change in perspective.