!! Stop productivity porn !!

It’s still too soon for bravado about productivity. We’re in week three of isolation, and getting more comfortable with the weirdness. But we’re not quite there yet. You’re probably working from home, and if you have kids then they’re home and you’re a full-time professional and teacher, and your normal productivity routines are disrupted.

Yes, yes, I know, opportunity and crisis go hand in hand. But right now we still need grounding, healing, and kindness more than we need productivity on steroids. The time for explosive action is near, but not when we’re reeling from the shock of reality change, and considering what “normal” might look like.

Unfortunately, our collective addiction to crazy busy (and this productivity “porn” it yields) will cause our healing to take longer and our pain to run deeper than it has to.

We’re all affected: scary dreams, scrambled thoughts, aching bodies, upended routines, and moods that swing from hopeful to hopeless. Fact is, we’re collectively experiencing shock, grief, and anxiety.

So, for now, lay off the goddamn productivity porn. You know what it looks like.

  • “If you haven’t started your side hustle, you’re just lazy.”
  • “This is your time to learn that new language you’ve been putting off.”
  • “Stay happy. Be productive.”
  • “Now you have the time you’ve asked for, finish writing your book/ painting your painting/etc.”

Productivity porn peddlers lack either the wisdom, courage, or capacity to accept that the appropriate reaction now is kindness and compassion. We have to accept that we’re blown away, scared, and living in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time for productivity, and it’s not that far from now. But if we don’t learn to honor and embrace our fear and anxiety, then we’ll miss our chance to become deeper, more conscious leaders, friends, parents, and partners.

Rushing to action is appropriate in the ICU. But if you’re sheltered at home, take the necessary action to maintain relevance and energy, but don’t add a layer of guilt that you haven’t fixed your motorcycle, repainted your dining room, finished your new app design, or written that stalled short story. You don’t have to produce something to prove your value.

If you’re a leader then stop speaking out of both sides of your mouth. Here’s what I mean:
1. “Hey guys, take some time to be with your family and take care of yourselves.”
2. “Hey guys, we’re still in a competitive reality, so don’t drop the ball on your projects.”
Do you see the crazy making pressure – on the one hand, inviting your people to be less productive, and on the other hand telling your people to be as productive as ever. You can’t have it both ways! For now, if you’r encouraging your people to care for themselves and their loved ones, then you have to adjust your productivity expectations.

At this moment be kind to yourself and your loved ones. Acknowledge fear and anxiety. Meditate and pray. Soothe your nervous system with gentle exercise and stretching. If you’re fortunate enough to be with others, be nice to each other.

You’ll know when it’s time to ramp up your productivity. It may already be the right time for you.

But for now, don’t let productivity porn weigh you down with delusion and guilt. And don’t just escape into action, be present with yourself, with others, and with a world in pain.