The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. To put this figure into perspective, that’s about ten years of back-to-back

From productivity porn to mindful productivity

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2021-08-16 09:30:10

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. To put this figure into perspective, that’s about ten years of back-to-back work. So it’s no wonder productivity advice is so popular: we rightfully try to make the most of the time we spend at work. However, our desire to be more productive can turn into a harmful addiction to productivity content: a phenomenon known as productivity porn.

Not all productivity strategies are made equal. While some are backed by science, others are cobbled together by self-experimenting entrepreneurs who are selling readers the dream of a magically more productive, effortless life.

If you notice one of all of these signs, you are probably looking at productivity porn rather than realistic and evidence-based productivity strategies. It’s fine to read these from time to time for entertainment—there is something fascinating with these extreme stories—but being aware that applying these strategies to yourself may be harmful is important.

Of course, productivity porn targets our tendency for wishful thinking. While positive thinking can actually lead to a more productive behaviour—that’s called the Pygmalion effect—wishful thinking shapes our decisions based on what may be pleasing to imagine, rather than on rationality. Christopher Booker described it as the “fantasy cycle”, a common pattern where wishful thinking makes us focus on goals that can never be reconciled with reality.

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