Friday, August 02, 2019

Productivity is overrated? NOW you tell me.

I spent the last two weeks doing eldercare, cleaning and cooking and chatting and problem-solving and strategizing and being on the phone with banks, cable services, etc.,  trying to gain access to straighten out financial messes.  (PSA: for the love of God, please grant someone Power of Attorney so that they can legally act for you before you develop dementia.) When people inquired brightly "How are you enjoying your vacation?" I had to bite my lip.

In the meantime, the work I had no time to do rolled in through my email as usual, despite my autoreply. 750words gathered dust and spiderwebs because I had no words to give it.

But wait! The productivity writer Theresa MacPhail now says "OK, I admit it: Productivity is Overrated."

In questioning "academe’s 'I’m so busy' Olympics" MacPhail cites Melissa Gregg's Counterproductive:
"Paradoxically," Gregg writes, "the capabilities of productivity software create expectations of always more activity." And she should know. She’s surrounded by engineers and software developers trying to maximize their time. As Gregg is quick to point out, however, all of the time saved from efficiency and productivity apps only increases the amount of free time that one is then expected to funnel back into — you guessed it — more work.
 Isn't that the old joke about academe? You work harder and for that your reward is . . . more work?

Isn't it sick that I want to know exactly what "productivity apps" Gregg is talking about?

And isn't it ironic that the sidebar ad is  The Chronicle Productivity Guide to Writing & Publishing?

Maybe this is a welcome and needed corrective to the culture of busyness, like Slow Writing a few years back. Or maybe it's just the usual pendulum swing, as when HGTV derides as "dated" all the trends it spent the 2000s shilling for as "classic," or how 1970s-style unpadded & un-underwired bras are now making a return as the "bralet."

At this point, I'm going with "needed corrective" because my productivity meter has run out, and I need a break. It's nice to have the backing of experts on this.


Servetus said...

imo the situation you're in is also potentially damaging to productivity b/c so much of eldercare related productivity is either thankless or just a fight against entropy or both. You get it done, but all you can celebrate is that you've made it from the negative numbers back to zero. That's how I feel about it, anyway.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

You're both right, and have my sympathies about the situation. In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkoskigan novels, it is also the case that "The reward for a job well done is another job," so maybe we should think of ourselves as in service to the emperor.

undine said...

servetus--you describe it beautifully! It is absolutely a fight against entropy and a struggle to make it from negative numbers back to zero, and sometimes it's not possible to have the energy to take on extra fights, like getting the person to brush their teeth. I'm sorry that you have gone/are going through this, too.

Dame Eleanor--thank you for your sympathies. I know it's a cliche, but it's very much like the toddler years in reverse, except that you know that it's always going to get worse rather than better. In service to the emperor--makes sense.

I wonder if the caregiver generation, seeing this older generation with bodies that outlive their brains, sometimes by decades, through the miracles of statins, blood thinners, etc. etc. are going to want to take those medications themselves, knowing that that is the likely result. I'm not saying there's a causation effect between the medications and dementia, but rather that people might start thinking more seriously about the likely outcome.

Servetus said...

Toddler years in reverse is so accurate -- working at the whim of a tyrant at times with no hope of improvement.

I know I'm not doing all this stuff. Part of that is that I am childless so don't have anyone as a likely helper, but part of it is that I have seen many maternal relatives go through cancer therapies with little alleviation of the problem. They die, just seven months later than they would have without it. And now watching the intermediate stage of dementia, there's no way any intelligent person would want to experience this if they had a choice. I'm already making plans for how to circumvent falling into the hands of medical establishment / pill mill.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

The drugs are a tricky question, because---taking the drug thinners as an example---while I would be quite happy to die quickly of a massive stroke, I would hate to be partially paralyzed by a milder one. After a certain age, I would be disinclined to treat cancer. I think about a lot of these points, often. My family tends to be long-lived, but I wonder about my now decades-long struggles with insomnia and the effect that is going to have on my brain and body as I get older. One does indeed need to plan.

Servetus said...

I absolutely agree re: partial paralysis. I haven't completely thought through it. But I think that one has to be prepared both to act illegally and possibly to make decisions that will upset other people when they learn of them. (And also: once the baby boomers are halfway done dying, attitudes on this question are going to change drastically. A wave of suffering is about to hit us, of which we have not yet even imagined the dimensions.)

gwinne said...

I'm sorry you're struggling with caregiving under extreme circumstances. We're not there yet, but I think of these issues with respect to my mom quite a bit.

But also, the productivity stuff: amen.

I hope you're finding ways to take care of yourself, too.