January 31, 2011

A productive 2011?!?

Were you disappointed with your level of productivity in 2010? Have you vowed to make 2011 a more productive year? Then I think you should read on.

Every now and then I come across my dad in a sorry state. He is moaning and sighing and feeling like his whole being is a large, empty space of wasted life. As a newly retired man, he finds it extremely hard to satisfy his protestant ethic of being productive. If it gets really bad, I try to help. I settle him down by a table with a pen and paper to write the famous To Do list. It makes him feel remarkably calm upon completing his list. As if he found in those crafted lines, stepping stones out of his misery: "Hi-yo, Silver! Away!"

Then, along comes game designer Jane McGonigal and pulverizes my method. To Do lists are "completely rubbish", she says: "They are useless because we have no idea what it means to be really productive. To produce something that truly matters in the great scheme of humanity. Instead we have this horribly warped, moralistic view of productivity, thanks largely to the faithful intertwining of ... the protestant work ethic - which is the idea that God wants us to be busy all the time, lest we have enough spare time to find ourselves sinning - ... and the rise of modern capitalism - where every person's duty is to spend the precious hours and days of their lives contributing to the gross domestic product, instead of enjoying them. If we're not getting something done, then we are wasting time, and there is nothing we fear more in society today ... We are so afraid of being unproductive that we don't stop and ask ourselves: What is it we want to produce while we're on this earth?"

Join Jane McGonigal in one of the School of Life's Sunday Sermons. She challenges us to find better metrics for measuring how productive we are.

Jane McGonigal - On Productivity from The School of Life on Vimeo.

Jane McGonigal's book Reality is Broken is just released.