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Productivity is a trap, don't fall for it

Productivity is a trap, don't fall for it
By Elizabeth Filips • Issue #25 • View online
I think I’m too fargone.
I’ve been reading two books a day this week (trashy books, nothing worth summarising) and topping that off with more “respectable” essays on the human condition to take the guilt away. The guilt of wasting my time. The guilt of not doing enough. The guilt of not doing enough of the right thing.
Yesterday I started thinking of the ways I used to read as a child. Paperbacks only. A book a day max, but usually it would take me 2 or 3. I’d never read two books at a time, I’d appreciate and savour every moment. I had absolutely no shame or guilt as I indulged in the escapism and joy.
Today, I have a tonne of apps for reading. I have capture systems (which I love, I will admit), techniques to speed read, categories of books I allow myself depending on how “good” I’ve been. I can get through more information than I ever managed to before. And what do I do with all this free time? I just read more.
It’s been the same for everything. The faster I can write essays and memorise information, the more university degrees I sign up for. The faster I can type, the more hours of work I end up doing.
And so I the more productive I get, the more hours of work I end up doing.
It’s never been the case of “hey, this new app just freed me 1h a day! I guess I can just wrap things up earlier” but rather “brilliant, I can add 10 more items to my to-do-list and maintain the same levels of discomfort and worry as to whether I can get everything done”.
I wonder if I was slower, more present, less efficient, more like my younger self, I would enjoy things more? I often feel as though I used to be ridiculous in how ineffectively I used to approach working, but maybe that was the best at working I’ve ever been.
I think productivity is addictive. Not because the speed gives me any joy (in many ways, I’m ashamed of it), but because the sheer variety and quantity of things I can consume and do in a day is so stimulating.
If you’re anything like me, how do you cope and balance it all?

🪄 Quote of the week
““Life, I knew, was supposed to be more joyful than this, more real, more meaningful, and the world was supposed to be more beautiful. We were not supposed to hate Mondays and live for the weekends and holidays. We were not supposed to have to raise our hands to be allowed to pee. We were not supposed to be kept indoors on a beautiful day, day after day.”
— Charles Eisenstein
🖤 My Favourite Things This Week
Book - I’ve just started 4,000 weeks by Oliver Burkeman and OH MY GOD I feel attacked in the best way possible. Anyone born in the last 2 generations should read this!
YouTube - One of my favourite channels, What I’ve Learned put out a video on the potential dangers of plant oils. A topic that I used to be very interested in about 10 years ago, but which I’d almost forgotten about recently. Definitely worth a watch!
Podcast - I put out quite a vulnerable podcast this week where I talked about my current feelings about medicine here. I’ll talk about my decision a bit more in the next newsletter (this one is already quite long!)
🎙Podcast Episode this week:
🎥 YouTube Videos this week
8 Things I Regret Buying Now I'm a Minimalist
8 Things I Regret Buying Now I'm a Minimalist
Why is being a beginner so hard?
Why is being a beginner so hard?
Did you enjoy this issue?
Elizabeth Filips

Hiya, I'm Elizabeth, a medical student and artist in London. Every Sunday I write about exploring meaning, productivity, little pleasures and just navigating life. And some of my favourite things that week.

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