It was too nice to do any work today

March 18, 2024

After a long, dark, hard winter we were blessed with unseasonably warm weather.

It was, simply put, too nice to do any work.

There’s an insane level of privilege that goes into that statement:

The amount of security you have to have to be able to just not today is wild.

Doubly weird is that its a privilege of unemployment.

My ability to enjoy the first warm, sunny weather in months depends on how many people are dependent on me sitting in front of the computer.

Since it’s just me out here, for the moment, I was able to just sit there and breathe for a damn minute.

I’m writing this the next day- which is also warm and sunny- and yet I’m not outside enjoying and unseasonably warm Canadian Spring.

I’m in front of my computer again.

It was too nice to work yesterday, but that was a reflection of my personal headspace.

I embraced that headspace, and it’s propelled me to the next mindset.

Rejecting the Cult of Productivity

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about productivity.

And yesterday I thought a lot about productivity.

The main thought was imagining just writing “It’s too nice to do any work today.” in my work chat and then just going offline for the day.

What’s fascinating about the thought experiment is just how insane that would be.

We simply don’t live in a culture where you can just peace out for a day because you feel like it.

Even in company cultures that have “flex” days or whatever, I hoarded those days for emergencies- unavoidable errands, sick-but-actually-mental-breakdown days, etc.

So it’s no wonder the weird pressure I feel just imagining announcing, “meh, don’t feel like it.”

It’s this feeling that feeds into a larger topic I’ve been ruminating on- the Cult of Productivity.

I fetishize productivity, always have.

For me, the default is to associate the amount I produce with my self worth.

Part of it, I think, has to do with the cultural expectations of what a “worthy man” is.

Real men make shit!

Power tools and blue jeans and heavy machinery, hoo-rah!

That blue-collar agricultural utopia is the ideal for masculinity.

Less ideal is the knowledge worker, creating value in a digitized capitalist society.

Which is a fancy way to say you’re still a worthy man if you can make the number go up.

It doesn’t really matter what the number is- personal wealth, investment returns, key-performance-indicators, whatever.

The number is a proxy for productivity, productivity is the masculine ideal:

Real man make number go up.

Add the fact that I am a white man, enjoying the wild privilege an entire globalized society has been developed to serve:

The pressure to be productive is even more pronounced.

At some point, all self-aware white men have to come to terms with their place in the Great Machine.

The way I came to terms with my privilege was a deep sense of dread that I would waste the opportunity.

The entire world is set up to allow me to anything.

Which meant the greatest sin is to do nothing.