I’ve recently fallen prey to such “productivity” sites as: Lifehacker, Zen Habits and 43 Folders. These sites all offer useful types and links to a variety of content (soft and hard) that is supposed to streamline the and facilitate the creative process and act. These sites do a good job of finding content, that exists to help people create, across the internet and providing it to their readers in short blurbs and easy links. Lifehacker is full of information on websites, programs, apps, etc. that will help those who use them “create.” Except they don’t. Instead you get caught up in getting ready to create. The focus of these sites, even when they tell you to stop reading and create, is not for you to create but to keep getting ready to create with the help of this app or that program.
I’ve been diligently reading all three recently and I want to show you some things:
It might be a little hard to see but go ahead and click on the two pictures above. The folders circled in red are productivity software, they’re there to help me create better digital images, better code, better digital audio, better notes for future projects, better computer management, better command line interface, easier scripting, etc… etc… My computer is full of the stuff. My cell phone is clogged with it as well. Now I’m going to show you my ‘documents’ folder where all the now easy to do creative works are stored:
That’s the entirety of my creative output for the year of 2011. Nine 200 word book reviews, one 500 word writing challenge, and two incomplete book reviews. I haven’t taken any pictures, let alone manipulate them. I haven’t written any code. I haven’t recorded or edited any audio. The extent of my idea capturing notes? Two entries; links to websites I wouldn’t to further explore later. What does this mean? It means the idea of greater productivity has effectively made me non-productive. I’ve spent all this time optimizing, optimizing, optimizing for when I’ll have the perfect creativity system. That’s great, I suppose, when do I sit down and create though?
All this pursuit of productivity is great for Lifehacker and friends they’re getting millions of eyeballs on their webpage, millions of clicks to their adds, and making millions of dollars. It isn’t helping me, or you, create anything though! For the creators and makers all this productivity is just another excuse, another form of procrastination. It’s one more thing we can do to keep us from the difficult task of creation.
So, close your browser. Set down the cue card system. Pick up your pen, pencil, camera, keyboard, etc. and let’s start going about the hard work of creating. If you lose a few minutes, or hours, because however you create isn’t optimized, who cares? Worry about that after the creating is done!