Essays on Technology and Culture

Productivity Ãœber Alles

Produtivity is all that matters. Do more work, do it faster, do it better (maybe), and the world will be yours, if you can ever find the time. After all, life is just a big competition. Someone is going to undercut you, your job is going to be outsourced to a contract programmer in India. A competing startup is going to be bought by Facebook. You have to be on top of everything. You have to be productive. Always.

Productivity rules everything. It explains the preponderance of “sharing economy” companies that promise to do all the useless, utilitarian crap that takes up so much of your day. There’s companies to drive you around. There’s companies to bring you groceries, ready-to-cook meals, pre-made meals, Soylent. Companies to do your laundry, clean your house, buy you clothing… All to save you time that you can spend being more productive.

It’s reflected in the Cult of the Entrepreneur, the ideal to which we all must aspire. He (and it is always a he) is the one who is 110% dedicated to his vision and business, until it’s time to pivot. He’s constantly pitching, constantly seeking clients, constantly working, except when he’s working out or sleeping at the office (or coworking space). And why is he working out? To keep himself fit so he can work longer hours, even harder than any other entrepreneur. This is the only way to live: working for yourself, free from your commitments to The Man. You only are responsible to your clients and your investors. True freedom.

Of course, the entrepreneur route isn’t easy, or cheap. It helps if you’re not in debt, of if you have rich parents and a trust fund. Fortunately, if you can’t be a Real Entrepreneur, you can work for a startup (if you’re a white male who knows how to code.) Trade money for equity, work long hours, and maybe you too will be inspired to start your own company and be the Valley Ideal. It’ll be easier once your equity vests, and the startup you work for gets acquired for a few hundred mil. Now you don’t even need Angel funding!

Find all the wasted time in your life and squeeze it out. Quantify yourself. Quantify everything. You can’t improve what you don’t have data on, so start collecting it all. Anything you can’t quantify, well, it probably isn’t important. In fact, scratch the “probably” part. Install RescueTime and Chrome Nanny. Uninstall Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram from your phone, unless your job or company is focused on Social Media. Get a treadmill desk, so you can work out while you work. Don’t read paper books, or even ebooks. Listen to audiobooks at 2x.

Sign up for online learning courses for hard skills that look good on a résumé. Sign up to online courses on how to focus on your work. Contribute to open source projects in your “downtime” so you have an impressive GitHub. Blog for free. Network. Go to meetups. Go to conferences. Make more connections on LinkedIn that you’ll never interact with. Buy an ultra-light laptop and tether it to your smartphone so you can work wherever you are. Take a vacation, but keep answering email. Is all this work stressing you out? Learn to meditate, and get back on that horse before someone knocks your ass off of it.

Write more lines of code.

Get more new user sign ups.

Deploy more new features.

Book more clients.

Cram more work into the day, it doesn’t matter what.

Forget your family. Forget your friends. Work is the only thing that matters. If you work for a startup, you have work friends. Work hard and party hard with your coworkers! All the cool startups keep a beer fridge, so you don’t even have to go out to the bar. Just drink in the office and, if you have too much, sleep it off at your desk. You practically live at work anyway, right? And then you’re right there, ready to get back to work in the morning.

Never stop, even for a minute, to think about what the fuck you’re doing, and whether it’s actually what you want to be doing, and whether you’re actually making the world a better or worse place, and the toll the constant work is taking on your body, and how little sleep you’re getting, and all the fucking hollow relationships you have with everyone in your life, because you’re devoting 144 hours a week to maximum productivity. Never wonder why you feel so empty inside during those rare moments of downtime, when you don’t know what to do. Fill that time with more work, another side hustle, anything.

Because if you don’t, who knows what might happen? You might realize that it’s all bullshit, and then the whole productivity racket, the whole “sharing economy,” the whole modern world of the technology business might collapse like the house of cards it really is. And we can’t have that, can we?

Now get back to work.