Our obsession with productivity is ruining our lives

I’ve thought a lot about the implications of productivity recently.

I notice myself finding more ways to spend time producing, and less time is focused on being.

We are starting to see ourselves as machines.

What’s more, we appear to enjoy it.

“That is the secret of happiness and virtue — liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.”
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I believe that hyper-productivity is the latest part of our conditioning.

If we are happy being productive, then why change?

Happiness is the goal after all.

I also don’t want to be misunderstood: it’s entirely logical to maximize our time and accomplish more during any given day.

But I think as a society we’ve taken it a bit too far.

We have to ask ourselves, what is the end result of this productivity?

Do I need to keep producing more, so I can support myself in society, in order to go on and keep producing more?

Are we happy because we consciously chose this? Or does our happiness stem from our conditioning to accept the situation, and lack of awareness of alternatives?

Society is becoming more productive, and as members of society, we are expected to do the same.

Shouldn’t our productivity provide us with more time to explore aspects of life which inspire us, and develop a connection to the world?

Reality

For most people, work time already extends far beyond office hours. We reply to emails on the way to work, follow latest trends on social media on the way home, before finally writing blog articles before we go to bed.

We are convinced we have to do this to stay competitive at work.

It may even be true in some cases.

We are caught in a cycle of attainment by means of production.

This is natural, but the problem lies in that we want to attain too much.

Our obsession with being productive is supporting our need for more, and in turn we are losing ourselves.

Breaking the cycle

When was the last time you drank a cup of tea, and you focused purely on drinking that cup of tea?

If you’re like me, when you finally sit down to drink that well-earned cup of tea, you do it at the same time as an array of different tasks.

This is something I noticed whilst living in Japan, where the focus on single tasks, and the perfection of one skill, can still be seen in society today.

I frequently saw businessmen, who are known for working incredibly long hours, stop to grab a drink from a vending machine.

However, in most cases, they wouldn't grab the drink and walk down the street like most of us do.

They stand still and drink the drink. They take a moment.

Why not try the same? Document the experience.

The smell.

The taste.

The temperature.

The cup.

The surrounding environment.

Life is a different experience entirely when we are in the present.

The challenge we face

The obsession with a productive lifestyle leaves us with more questions than answers. And many people are already seeking alternative ways of living, on the never ending quest for the perfect balance in life.

The main dilemma we face is: is the reward for conforming and being hyper-productive too great to refuse?

Travel, once a privilege exclusive to the rich, and an incredibly time consuming and dangerous activity, has become accessible to most of us.

We travel more, take more photos and work harder to repeat the process. We crave more experiences and our hyper-productivity supports this.

We need to stop focusing on productivity at the expense of our free time and personal development. Our obsession with production is taking away the richness of our lives.

‘But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.’
- Aldous Huxley- Brave New World

Feelings like these are becoming a mantra for a disgruntled generation who seek a different future, we just need a little courage to go for it.

It truly is an art crafting our own way in the world.

How does the pressure to be productive affect your life?

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