Nivedit Majumdar Nivedit Majumdar

The Vacuum called Productivity

Let’s face it, who doesn’t like productivity? Getting tasks done in minimal time, with minimal effort, with maximal organisational skills. Productivity is cool. Productivity is efficient.

Productivity is… addictive?

With the Google Play Store and Apple App Stores getting a slew of productivity centric applications by the day, and the overall productivity space evolving at never before rates – owing perhaps to the popularisation of the concepts of the Quantified Self, productivity is becoming more of a lifestyle norm.

Which brings forth the question: at which point does productivity move from organisational skills to a full scale addiction? This question shall be the focal point of this piece, as this author tries to figure out the significance of terms such as productivity porn and how it can be avoided.


Recently, Terry Crews spoke about his porn addiction in a very thought provoking video series. He stated that his addiction did not allow him to live life normally.

A similar state can be imagined with productivity. If you’re following too many productivity channels, watching too many productivity focused videos or constantly on the lookout for more productivity centric applications, instead of actually working on your flaws and improving them, well bad news folks, you’ve got a problem.

emberify_vacuum called_productivity
(Image Source: xkcd)

Productivity porn is serious. Here’s a nice piece by James Bedell which point out what the symptoms might be. And more often than not, hunting for productivity tricks, running behind productivity methodologies often hinders our own potential of becoming productive, in a very amusing irony.


Productivity porn, much alike its namesake, brings about a sense of personal insecurity and false perceptions. At one moment you’re religiously following tips from a certain lifelogging guru, and then other one comes along and you’re hell-bent on changing your methods, just because the second one is ‘more productive’.

James Bedell puts the solution very nicely, by saying this:

The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month. They are far too busy getting things done to read Getting Things Done.

And ideally, this trait is what differentiates a productivity freak from a productive person.


While the chances of getting royally addicted to productivity is imminent for hardcore lifeloggers, fortunately, there are a few simple pointers which would prevent the productivity porn addiction.


Productivity applies to a wide gamut of habits and functionalities, and the trick is to figure out which one is actually relevant to the lifelogger. If you suck at managing time, make sure your schedules, organisational skills and calendar are on point. If you can’t find time to devote to fitness, make sure you follow the relevant fitness regime.


This is a direct continuation of the previous point, wherein one has to identify what solutions can exist for the problem. There can be some specific application, or a modus operandi, which can actually help you improve yourself.


Citing my personal example, my addiction to everything digital rendered me unable to enjoy other things in life – for example sitting silently in a room, mug of coffee in hand and listening to classical music. Apps such as Instant helped me out, and I could determine how much time I’m spending on my device and improve my habits accordingly.


I personally believe that the simpler the approach, the more effective it will be. I believe that smartphones provide the best tracking devices, and nothing, absolutely nothing, can replace the intuitiveness of a pen and paper.

So set schedules. Make lists. And most importantly, instead of following productivity tricks which are exhausting and complicated to keep up with, stick to a routine and make it work for yourself. That’s how people actually Get Things Done.


While productivity is, well, productive, it does come with its fair share of side effects, the most notable of which is the sink called productivity porn. By simplifying stuff, understanding the requirements and then working out tactics to improve productivity in a seamless manner and actually following the regime, one can be productive, and not be addicted to it either.

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