As a nice accompaniment to my recent post about the dangers of multitasking, someone recently posted an excellent article on personal productivity at Kuro5hin. And who should the article have quoted, but Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Once again, the concept of “flow” reigns supreme.
The author of the article at Kuro5hin provides several excellent suggestions for improving your personal productivity. One item he included came from another article at Dexterity.com.
It recommends you keep a time log where you write down when you start an activity and when you stop it. At the end of the week, you create a tally so you can know exactly where your time is going.
Scary. I’m afraid that I would spend a cumulative hour each day just trying to write down all the start and stop times. Nonetheless, it’s hard to know just how productive, or unproductive, you are without attempting to measure it. I’ve been working hard on lengthening the times between my task switches, but I still have a lot of room for improvement. So far, it’s been as simple as being disciplined about checking my email less often and not starting on something else just because the compile I started won’t be finished for another 12 seconds.
While Kuro5hin doesn’t have as many annoying trolls as Slashdot, there are still quite a few who drag their knuckles across their keyboards to post comments. There were several comments along the lines of, “You’re just a pawn working for the Man. Why do you want to learn how to slave away in a dead-end job at an even faster pace for someone else?”
The list of reasons these dolts are misguided is lengthy, but here’s a few:
- Some people actually have substantial ownership of the company they work for. They are working for themselves.
- Some people actually enjoy what they do for a living.
- Some people would simply like to complete their work with less stress by finishing well in advance of deadlines.
I guess I should feel sorry for the commenters who want everyone else to be as miserable as themselves, since they are obviously trapped in mindless, unpleasant jobs. But I don’t. While many people truly are misfortunate enough to be in a position where the only jobs available to them are unpleasant, most of those people don’t sit around posting rants to Kuro5hin.
Update Jan. 18, 2006: Another negative article on multitasking recently ran in The Globe and Mail.