Today is Saturday, February 3. Six days ago, I gave in and stopped tracking how many hours I spent drawing and writing. Six days ago, or Sunday, January 28: mark down this date as a fated occasion in my life, a watershed moment, the open gate between misery and dawning serenity.
Since releasing myself from the tyranny of quantitative goals, I have dallied more, gone outside more, and realized gobsmacking truths about myself. I have created work I am proud of, without fretting about the prestige, the accolades it can win me. I have delighted in the process of creating that work. The cincher lies here: I have written and drawn no less than I did when I was clocking my productivity. Fewer hours, maybe, but equivalent, if not greater, output.
I notice more of the life before me, and as such, ideas are now aplenty. They seem to sidle up, drop in, and waft over from all directions. It was awful before, when I was all but staging archeological missions to dig up workable ideas, and still had nothing.
Some people that helped me get here, or: Primer on how (and why) to fuck productivity
how to do nothing by Jenny Odell, on how silence allows for Deep Listening, the dangers of untrammeled growth, and the vitality of cyclical maintenance work
...perhaps the granularity of attention we achieve outward also extends inward, so that as the perceptual details of our environment unfold in surprising ways, so too do our own intricacies and contradictions.
The tension between creativity and productivity by Jason Kottke, which references Cory Doctorow's How to Do Everything (Lifehacking Considered Harmful):
But today, thanks to a vicious Darwinian winnowing process, the only activities left in my day serve double- and triple-duty... And that means that undertaking new things, speculative things that have no proven value to any of the domains where I work (let alone all of them) has gotten progressively harder, even as I’ve grown more productive. Optimization is a form of calcification.
Also: Quinn Norton's fantastic Against Productivity
We dream now of making Every Moment Count, of achieving flow and never leaving, creating one project that must be better than the last, of working harder and smarter. [...] Productivity never asks what it builds, just how much of it can be piled up before we leave or die. It is irrelevant to pleasure. It’s agnostic about the fate of humanity.
Despite having more labor-saving technology than anyone in history, we have made it so we have more to get done than any form of society before us. [...]
Productive people, like productive machines, have no scores for metis, wisdom, or worthy life. So these things live on in poetry, and fantasy, and if we’re lucky, our sinful unproductive time. They are erased, and with them, the futures they contain. They are not creatures of now, which is what productivity is about. They only ever come up these days when all the other stuff inevitably collapses.
This is killing us. It’s starving our souls and stunting our intellectual pursuits into ever more stratified vertical slices.
I begrudgingly acknowledge everyone in my life who insisted on the importance of downtime, despite my exaggerated and unrelenting scoffing. FINE, YOU ARE ALL VERY WISE.
I've also been thinking about more generous, abundant ways to love. (Christ, did I have to resist painting a coat of sarcasm over that sentence.) This stuff is unfamiliar territory. But it's all tied to these screwy productivity discourses, which—isn't mechanized productivity all about seeking self-worth? And doesn't self-worth always come down to wanting to be loved?
THIS SHIT IS DEEP. (Listen, I made it a whole paragraph before I gave in. Graffiti over ALL THE SINCERITY!)
- Decrying Desirability, Demanding Care by Samantha Marie Nock
- Relationship Anarchy Basics at The Thinking Aro
- The Establishment's Is Love Infinite? A Polyamorous Roundtable on Jealousy
- Brené Brown's TED Talk: the Power of Vulnerability