The Cult of Speed, a Productivity MisconceptionAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“I'm not a fast driver. I've seen what speed can do.” ~ Carol Alt
The concept of productivity is being carried to an extreme that I don’t like at all. I agree that time is precious and we should not waste it. But I do not agree that we should lose our essence as human beings to not give a second up as lost.
Before, the big ate the small. Now, the fast eat the slow. So get ready to run.
We software developers have our share of guilt. Productivity programs are designed to save the user to click here and there, to make them type as little as possible, and to make it faster to work. But saving a couple of clicks or spending 30 seconds less while typing a text will only generate in you a false sense of productivity. Productive management is not about getting over with whatever you’re doing, but in doing so that everything is in the right place, perfectly defined, so you can make the best decisions when the time comes.
In this world we live in, full of schedules and deadlines, we all suffer the disease of time and therefore we pay homage to speed.
There’s the necessity to sleep the minimum, even if it means taking stimulants, be irritable and reduce our reflexes and attention span.
You have to eat quickly to continue producing. That means no cooking, no sitting down to eat and no enjoying the food. Never mind that the food does not taste like anything, provided it fulfills its purpose. We don’t eat, we refuel.
You have no time to exercise, and if you do, you won’t spend any extra time to warm up and stretch before starting time. Most injuries related to sports and fitness are due to the fact of wanting to get results too quickly.
Going out for a walk and enjoying the nature without any purpose? Unthinkable. Sure you can do something more “productive” with that time.
In Finland they have passed a law to stop teaching children to write by hand as it will not be productive in a future ruled by machines. Instead, they will teach typing. Never mind all the cognitive benefits of the handwriting, the creativity it produces or its influence on motor coordination. Are we crazy or what?
It hurts me that the existence of people arises merely as a service to the economy. There’s the need to work longer hours, even if it is proven that we are more unproductive, we make more mistakes, we get sick more often and are more unhappy.
Carl Honoré, in his highly recommended book In Praise of Slowness, said “certain things can not or should not be rushed, they take time, they need to be done slowly… All the things that unite us and make life worthwhile—community, family, friendship—progress on the only thing we’re always short: Time.” Below you can see his talk about this topic in a TED event.
In my opinion—and that of many others—, making things faster does not mean making them well. Speed is not synonymous with productivity. And, of course, it is not synonymous with a meaningful life. Speed is one of the problems I will pay more attention to in 2015. How about you?