What does it mean to do work?

The word ‘productivity' was originally an agricultural term meant to assess the output of farmers. As technology replaced field labor and allowed people to move into cities, productivity turned man into a machine.

Instead of plowing the fields, people cultivate threads of emails. They label manila folders into ten different categories. Indulging in the work-related tasks is a never-ending obsession.

But most productivity hacks are a waste of time. Doing more in less time risks skipping the fundamentals.

“Workaholics aren't heroes. They don't save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”

Jason Fried, Rework

Unlike making art, busy work isn't always meaningful work. You can only get so good at Twitter and email.

When you're creating something, at least the purpose is self-expression. Even when you plant seeds and nurture the crops you get something back in return.

Let's be honest: What did you really do with all that “work” you put in?

The to-do list can wait.

Maybe the best way to get things done is to pursue more play, to disconnect from the tyranny of doing stuff entirely.

Arbitrary resets are more fruitful. Some of the best ideas emerge through a conversation with a friend or a solo walk in the park. Disengaging helps you out of your own head.

So what's the work that's worthwhile and enjoyable? Probably the vocation that lets you feel the most human, so you can less time acting like a machine and more time doing something fun, interesting, or remarkable.

“Those who work much do not work hard.”

Henry David Thoreau

Consider doing more heart-work.

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Published by Wells Baum

A daily blogger who connects the dots between arts and life.

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  1. So glad I saw this post. The video was fascinating. I liked how the writer said he could crank out 5 mini posts daily (which some would say is more “productive”) or write a very good post in two days. The idea that productivity encourages us to look at people as machines was also interesting.

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