The productivity hack no one wants to talk about
The complicated relationship between efficiency and wealth
People like to ask me for advice about getting stuff done – and I love to oblige. If the Pomodoro Technique did brand partnerships, I’d be its biggest shill.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of productivity advice – getting up early, eliminating distractions and lasering your focus does yield results. But lately, I can’t shake some nagging, uncomfortable, questions. Are my recent professional achievements down to efficiency, or was it money that made the biggest difference? Did I earn my productive output, or did I buy it? Is "have money" the biggest productivity hack that no one wants to talk about?
I explored this idea in a personal essay for Business Insider recently, putting my own relationship between productivity and wealth under the microscope. It all started last year when I hired a part-time bookkeeper and I realised, "Oh, it's a hell of a lot easier to manage my time when I'm paying someone else to do my admin." As I write that, I’m embarrassed at how obvious it sounds. Although I could be forgiven; few (if any) articles about the daily routines of the world’s top CEOs mention how much work gets delegated while they’re banning meetings and not checking emails until noon.
It's a tricky conversation to have, but one that I think is important. Because here’s the thing – there’s only so much control we have over our personal productivity levels. To quote from my own story:
Many are hindered by organizational issues that the rich can buy their way out of — by having the financial resources to quit a job and work for themselves or by having the harder-to-quantify social capital that helps some manoeuvre through a company with greater ease than others.
It's not only organizational constraints that impinge on our ability to be productive but also the headwinds of gender-, class-, and race-based socioeconomic systems.
The answer is more transparency — or, at the very least, context.
So, the next time someone asks me for my top tip on managing one’s time, I’m going to tell it to them straight: have money.
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