Editor: Welcome guest writer Clay Collins, author of The Alternative Productivity Manifesto.
Let's face it: if you've spent much time in the productivity blogosphere, then 100 more motivation hacks, 50 more Firefox plug-ins, and additional GTD system tweaks probably aren't going to make you that much more productive. There's a point of diminishing returns when it comes to productivity advice. Photo by Andy Ciordia.
If, month after month, you continue searching for the latest tip, tweak, or hack, it may mean that your approach to solving productivity problems just isn't working. It could also mean that you're a productivity hobbyist.
Hobbyist: A person who pursues an activity in their spare time for pleasure. -Dictionary.com
Hobbies are great. Having fun is, in my opinion, much more important than being productive. Indeed, there's nothing wrong with being a gamer or a golfer or whatever. So why should there be anything wrong with geeking out on productivity and gadgets?
Answer: there's nothing wrong with geeking out on productivity and gadgets. And there's nothing wrong with being a productivity hobbyist so long as you recognise your hobby for what it is (and haven't deluded yourself into thinking that you actually need yet another gadget, plug-in, or GTD tweak).
How to Tell if You're a Productivity Hobbyist
You're likely a productivity hobbyist if:
- You frequently do things like re-purpose shoeholders to organise your gadgets.
- You have a t-shirt that says "David Allen has a posse."
- You modify your GTD system on a weekly basis.
- You've ever emptied your geek bag, taken a picture, and then shared the picture with friends. (See below.)
Photos by RjNagle and Buddhaah, respectively.
- You seriously can't wait for the next release of Remember the Milk or Better Gmail.
- You exchange "Moleskine hacks" with your friends over beer.
- You've ever done this to your laptop (photo by Peter Gene):
- You've ever spoken of "date hacks," "marriage hacks," "diet hacks," "child hacks," "food hacks," "kitchen hacks," "parents hacks," "brain hacks," or "inspiration hacks."
- Your refer to David Allen as "The David."
- You own all of the following: a label maker, digital voice recorder, PDA, hipster PDA, a large supply of binder clips, and an ebook reader (like like Amazon Kindle or the Sony Reader.)
(Ok, so this list is tongue-in-cheek, but you get the point).
As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with being a productivity hobbyist, just so long as you're...
A Conscious Hobbyist
A lot of people consume hobbyist productivity materials for the same reasons that they buy an expensive personal digital assistant when a good ol' paper planner would've done a better job. That is, they do these things because they elicit the often illusory feelings of being productive.
You can get mired in Bible verses without being a Christian, you can watch The Biggest Loser while putting on weight, and you can consume loads of information without gaining knowledge. It's also possible to practice the productivity hobby without developing the productivity habit. The former isn't bad, but it's important to remain cognisant of the hobby versus habit distinction.
Are you a productivity hobbyist?