Monday, November 28, 2016

[Book] The Productivity Project: Chris Bailey

It's ironic that a book about productivity should turn out to be a colossal waste of our time. The author claims to have spent one YEAR trying out and refining the productivity tips and techniques, but I am sorry to report that he shouldn't have bothered. 

The few worthwhile pointers the book contains are either covered in other books in much better detail (Getting Things Done by David Allen, for example) or are really common sense (meditate, don't procrastinate, etc.) 
Many of the ideas are downright detrimental. To discuss a few...

  • The author suggests to turn off the phone during sleeping hours.
    Really? What if our parents need to call us? Or a friend needs urgent help in the middle of the night?
  • The author recommends 'forcing' ourselves to check email just thrice a day.
    Oh, poor you! If email is so bothersome, you should actually reconsider whether to work in a place that uses email.
  • The author suggests declining any meetings that go beyond our 'predefined weekly meeting quota' (say, 4 hours).
    Seriously? Try telling your boss that you can't attend a meeting, or try telling a client that you won't participate in an escalation discussion because "it's beyond my weekly meeting quota".

There's no denying the point that emails, smartphones, meetings can be distracting and a time-hog, but if a 'productivity technique' relies upon just ignoring them or shutting them off, it needs to be scrutinized closely. 

  • I could go on, but here's just one more:
    The author suggests having an assistant, someone who can be paid $15-30 per hour -- or even more, if h/she is good enough. Dude, that turns out to be about two thousand rupees per hour!

And there are contradictions galore… At the beginning, the author suggests allocating less time for important tasks (yeah, you read it right), so that we would 'focus more on them'. But what about the associated stress? And what about "single tasking for extended duration' that you preach later on? And what to do with the spare time 'saved' by not working on the tasks that matter? 

Usually, I don't post negative reviews. But it is books like this that taint the productivity genre as a whole.

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