in Productivity

Modern procrastination and cycling trivialities.

iPhone photo of Alcan
A photo I took with my iPhone last weekend. It feels related somehow.

Introduction

Some days it feels like someone’s trying to tell you something. At first it’s subtle, but then the coincidences stack up until you’re left in no doubt that there’s a message in there somewhere. See if you come to the same conclusion as me. Here’s what came my way in a single day recently:

1. Seth Godin on ‘modern procrastination’

I don’t know how he manages to churn out gems like these every day and convince us that everything is related to marketing:

Laziness in a white collar job has nothing to do with avoiding hard physical labor. “Who wants to help me move this box!” Instead, it has to do with avoiding difficult (and apparently risky) intellectual labor.

“Honey, how was your day?”

“Oh, I was busy, incredibly busy.”

“I get that you were busy. But did you do anything important?”

Busy does not equal important. Measured doesn’t mean mattered.

2. José Gonzalez – Cycling Trivialities

I’m fond of music by the looks-Spanish-but-is-actually-Swedish-of-Argentine-descent singer-songwriter. Last.fm, to which I’ve been ‘scrobbling’ songs for over 7 years, is fully aware of this and therefore served up Cycling Trivialities by José Gonzalez (from his album In Our Nature):

Too blind to know your best.
Hurrying through the forks without regrets.
Different now, every step feels like a mile.
All the lights seem to flash and pass you by.

So how’s it gonna be.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.

Don’t know which way to turn.
Every trifle becoming big concerns.
All this time you were chasing dreams,
without knowing what you wanted them to mean.

So how’s it gonna be.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.
So how’s it gonna be.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.

Who cares in a hundred years from now.
All the small steps, all your shitty clouds.
Who cares in a hundred years from now.
Who’ll remember all the players.
Who’ll remember all the clowns.

So how’s it gonna be.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.

So what does this really mean.
When it all comes down you’re cycling trivialities.
Cycling trivialities.
Cycling trivialities.

3. Correspondence

I’ve recently become a fan of the work of Alexander McCall Smith. I tend to avoid ‘popular’ writers as I’m a bit of a secret book snob (I refused to read anything written after 1950 until I was about 25…) I’ve just finished his The Right Attitude to Rain all about a middle-age female Scots philosopher and her mini moral dilemmas. My favourite series of his was actually that featuring Professor Von Igelfeld as it reminded me of Frasier (the only TV sitcom I’ve been able to bear), but I digress…

On page 123 of The Right Attitude to Rain one of the characters is left alone to deal with his ‘correspondence’. We’re not talking emails here, we’re talking hand-writing letters. It struck me that this has been a much more normal thing to do (albeit for a certain class of people) for a lot longer than emails.

Conclusion

So if you’d experienced these three things in quick succession, what would you have thought? I’ll add what it made me think to the comments below later this week. :-)

  • http://annehodgson.de/ Anne

    Reacting without reflecting is indeed a form of procrastination. The time I’ve wasted on trivialities because I thought I had to respond quickly! When I start noticing that quality is going down and I’m not doing anything productive, not beginning to attend to the tasks at hand, I take myself away to a quiet place to get back to where it’s “me” and “real”, for focus. Reflective mode involves the outdoors, or at least a window, and looking off into the distance. We’re homo sapiens, not homo computus. Yoga is good. Having a night to dream things through is even better. I’ll get into stream of consciousness writing on my laptop to get all the fuzzy thoughts out of my system (and blogging is a part of that clarification process), but that’s also just a way in, another element of procrastination. When I go outdoors to think, I take a moleskin and just jot down a list. That really clears the mind.
    Looking forward to reading what it made you think of!

    • http://dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

      Sitting down and writing a stream of consciousness is something I haven’t
      done since my teenage years – thanks for reminding me! :-)

  • http://www.haikuit.com/ Rich @ Haiku-It!

    Be more productive,

    stop the procrastination,

    begin tomorrow.

    • http://dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

      Nice! :-)

  • http://dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

    So… what did it make me think of?

    WORKFLOWS, that’s what! It made me think that the reason there are established routines and ways of doing things are because they *work*. When they don’t work is because people haven’t been flexible enough to adapt to new technologies or ways in which people in society communicate.

    That’s all. :-)