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Productivity Kills Creativity

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

That’s the core idea behind the book, Autopilot, a science-based rebuttal to GTD, Six Sigma and the modern glamification of productivity.

I had a hard time figuring out if I liked the book, because, while the science seems solid, it’s delivered with a healthy dose of unfounded and tangencial preaching about the evils of capitalism.

To steal an analogy from Bill Cosby, it’s like being served a juicy steak on a garbage can lid.

Back to the argument of the book…

It seems there is a default resting state the brain enters that is most conducive to measurable creative thought.

This resting state is what we experience when we’re doing nothing, or on “autopilot.”

This is why the best ideas seem to come to us in the shower, or to Isaac Newton, while resting under an Apple tree.

This part of the brain essentially turns off when we’re being “productive.” There are sure to be many theories about why this happens, but it’s safe to assume that the human brain was just made for long periods of rest.

These periods of rest seem rare in our modern lives. The author’s solution is simple: work less, much less, and be less productive.

Abandon GTD and similar productivity methods, as there is no scientific basis for their assertions; particularly the assertion that writing things down frees your brain for more creative thought.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, or maybe even possible, to accomplish such a feat these days. But, denying the truth doesn’t help either.

Get the book or audiobook, if you’re in doubt, but it seems pretty obvious to me: if you want to really free up your mind for creativity, start by freeing yourself of your self-imposed obligations and machine-like processes (as much as possible).