The delusion of productivity

Some people get a massive amount of the wrong things done. 

They’re majoring in minor activities, snared in the death grip of the non essential, fully convinced that productivity is the same thing as activity. 

It’s not. They’re just deluding themselves. 

I have an entrepreneur friend who spends one day a week working out of a coworking space. She says the peaceful and creative atmosphere allows her to be more productive. 

Which makes sense. Coworking spaces were invented for that very reason. 

The only problem is, all she does when she’s there is check email. She diligently sorts through hundreds and hundreds of messages, carefully responding to people’s requests at the speed of light, repeatedly activating the reward system in her brain, triggering genuine feelings of satisfaction through pseudo achievement. 

And at the end of the day, she closes her laptop, sits back in her chair, exhales loudly and says to herself, wow, I really got some work done today

No, she didn’t. She just confused productivity with activity. 

It’s the same reason video games are deeply addictive. Your brain responds to achievements and victories and progress within simulations as if they were real, tricking the reward system into believing that you’ve accomplished something. 

Congratulations. You just spend eleven straight hours accumulating riches and defeating goblins and unlocking levels and building an empire and collecting secret bonuses and ascending to the highest possible level of an imaginary world. 

That’s email. Or social media. Or whatever else gives you a false sense of accomplishment. 

It’s all bullshit. None of it counts. If you truly want to be productive, go make something that shows people how you see the world. 

Godin said it best:

Art is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen. 


Are you getting things done or getting in the mood for getting things done?


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* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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