Productivity is a Protestant value (labour is the way to a good life and thus God). I find that, even though you and I are probably no longer religious, such values have huge staying power.
I for one accept that this value deserves a bunch of footnotes. You are very right: Labour amd our society is something to recover from. We (from this cultural zone at least) should start to accept we don't have to be temporarily embarrased hard workers anymore. Hard work is outdated and overrated, it's time we stop seeing this life as a means to get into heaven, or at least have values that boil down to that, but as a goal in its own right.
Working hard is valued, and should be pursued for its own value. Asking for compensation is crass and devalues your effort. Being productive without suffering or straining is not valued. It is seen as "cheating" and whatever is produced is seen as inherently less valuable. These are problematic perspectives that are causing us social problems and will continue to do so until there is a social re-evaluation of things. Until then... burnout for everybody!
Athletes and (famous) actors beat them, but they barely constitute a class.
That is, getting paid a certain salary is some sort of statement that you deserve it.
You'd be surprised.
And let's not even go into the ancient Greeks, and Romans, where "working hard" was for the lesser classes (not necessarily slaves), and it was not considered a great virtue. As Nietchze noted, nobility and honor were attached solely to "otium and bellum" (leisure and war).
Interestingly, the result is that you end up with an organization full of people with successful careers, including positions of power. As they are also quite secretive, this generates colourful conspiracy theories.
It is absolutely not some kind of eternal human nature common to us all to value hard work, and it is not even an emergent phenomenon in many cultures - until, as I said, they come under the sway of capital.
This. Religion is basically a convenient vehicle for "lifestyle", "ethics" and "ideology", encoded in stories, symbols, and imperatives.
(Which is also why modern "atheist" phenomena like soviet communism or Californian ideology are themselves religious in nature).
I'll do you one better - it propagated to my, firmly catholic, country and apparently it's here to stay even though no one ever associated it with religion.
We're now among some of the most overworked nations in Europe.
It's so frustrating that many people here work themselves to death, using up rest of their time for the time-sinks called children.
After that they have no time left for participating in the civil society, contribute to open source or otherwise make impact in their community.
Like they say: you're not your job, or: you're not your code, maybe we should say: you're not your children. They are important, but not everything.
"daydreaming — an inevitable effect of idleness — “literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas.”
So the article is not advocating that we should relax more for our mental health or enjoyment, just that if we do relax a bit, we'll get much more done when we're not relaxing... i.e., "spend your weekends meditating so you'll be more productive during the week".
When is being more efficient at anything a bad idea? If you can get your day job done in 2 hours vs 8, maybe you can argue for a raise or the ability to work from home.
When it drives people to stress, burnout, obsession, losing connection with family and friends, and so on...
In other words, today...
I'm suggesting to work more efficient as well as work less hours. Then you have more time to spend on relaxation and the things you want to do. That is how this modern society should view work, but we don't
So while already "being more efficient at anything" is not bad, the idea of "being more efficient at anything" can be a very bad idea, downright to killing people...
Do we live in different Americas? Benefiting yourself is revered in America, in my experience.
Yes, if you take up exercise and yoga and healthy eating, that could be seen as 'benefitting yourself'.... but it is OK only because those things are cloaked suffering. They're things you don't want to do, they cause pain or discomfort and involve avoiding doing the things you would prefer to do.
I am open to a counterpoint. I might just not be thinking of something where doing something pleasurable because you care for it for your own benefit is seen as a positive, something a mother would love to hear her child is pursuing, something that would be met with people at a party saying 'good for you!' that is, at the bottom of it, just fun.
Finding a passion project and tilting at windmills, though? Never been happier.
And I bet you didn't find your passion project while being a super busy bee.
He had a saying, "Don't just do something, stand there!"
Also, not sure if your "commandment" phrasing was intentional, but it made me chuckle a bit. The concept of "observating the Sabbath" by resting seems does seem to be a bit relevant to this topic.
This gentleman is seen with a maid of seventeen
A-taking of his dolce far niente
And wonders he’d achieve, for he asks us to believe
She’s his mother, and he’s nearly five-and-twenty!
Pieper distinguishes leisure from idleness or amusement which, for the man of total work, are the same. Leisure is not aimed at sensual indulgence but rather contemplative, receptive encounter with the world, with being. Here he distinguishes between intellectus and ratio, or a purely receptive intellection versus discursive thinking. Man, of course, needs to work. Pieper does not deny the need and proper value of work, but he rejects the primacy of work or work for work's sake. He is drawing attention to the superiority of contemplation to work.
In any case, I recommend the book.
“How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks?”
~~ Ecclesiasticus 38:25
In the workplace, priorities shift, projects get cancelled... procrastination can be an effective strategy for minimizing wasted effort.
As if there's a major difference between the two papers. They both hire from exactly the same schools and cocktail parties and there's not much tangible difference between the two papers—maybe slightly different opinion column headlines.
I am not against paywalls in general (I subscribe to The Economist), but HN becomes much less useful if 60% of links on the front page are to content I cannot read. And no, I will not subscribe to 5 or 6 newspapers, that makes no sense at all.
This discussion is being sidetracked into a discussion of morality of paywalls. I am perfectly fine with paywalls, I'd just like an option to not see all the links to content that is inaccessible to me.
But I know I won't be subscribing to any mainstream news site other than The Economist, so many of HN's links are non-existent for me.
Or prepend "outline.com/" to the full URL.
They (and other similar paywalls) have generated an asset that gets spent automatically by clicking on a normal web link, which has made me be much more self-conscious about every move I make on the web. This materially degrades my experience everywhere on the web. What happened to the idea that a GET request should not have permanent repercussions?
Do you work for free? Do you pirate your software?
There are so many other free outlets of information. But quality journalism (although admittedly not always perfect) has its price.
“Quality journalism” has its price, and the market doesn’t want to pay for it.
Quality software has its price too, but the market prefers Linux. Wait, are you associating “free” with “low quality” or am I? Who can tell with quality these days. One thing’s for sure, it’s a difficult issue.
 The text equivalent of Charlie Brooker's "How to report the news" segment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHun58mz3vI
Yes to both of your other questions.
I don't consider paywalling quality journalistic content socially unacceptable. I consider dropping a link on a free discussion board to a site with a paywall to be beyond obnoxious (but not quite to 'unacceptable.')
I often work for free, but not always. I often pirate software, but not always. I pirate software when I can't get a trial; I've seldom found reason to continue using pirated software and thus don't pay for it. Software with trials (much like paywalled sites with a limited number of free articles each month) let me sample without cost and are indeed more likely to get me to pay.
As I said, I don't seek out paywalled content- I'm not visiting the NYT daily trying to find a way around the paywall so I don't have to pay. I don't subscribe and pay for these things because it's not a part of my life. I get news and opinions and entertainment from other sources, only as sporadically as my curiosity piques, and usually because it's in some public place (TV on in the lobby, newspaper on the security desk, etc.)
Quality journalism does have its price. As does poor quality journalism - they paywall both. But I can't be bothered to throw money at them so that I can learn who actually provides quality content ... because it's not a part of my life, nor do I want it to be. See sibling comments on content quality.
What makes linking to paywalls unacceptable is that links are not marked with a "paywall" tag of some sort. So it ends up being bait and switch and a waste of time.
Regarding subscriptions: I'm just not going to separately subscribe to three dozen news sources I regularly read, I'm sorry.
There should be no distinction who's looking, with the only exception being paying vs. non-paying clients.
Running from place to place and laboring over long to-do lists have increasingly become ways to communicate status: I’m so busy because I’m just so important, the thinking goes.
Perhaps it’s time to stop all this busyness. Being busy — if we even are busy — is rarely the status indicator we’ve come to believe it is. Nonetheless, the impact is real, and instances of burnout, anxiety disorders and stress-related diseases are on the rise, not to mention millennial burnout.
There’s a way out of that madness, and it’s not more mindfulness, exercise or a healthy diet (though these things are all still important). What we’re talking about is … doing nothing. Or, as the Dutch call it, niksen.
What is niksen?
It’s difficult to define what doing nothing is, because we are always doing something, even when we’re asleep.
Doreen Dodgen-Magee, a psychologist who studies boredom and wrote the book “Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World,” likens niksen to a car whose engine is running but isn’t going anywhere.
“The way I think about boredom is coming to a moment with no plan other than just to be,” she said.
Sandi Mann, a psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain, added that niksen can be “when we’re not doing the things we should be doing. Because perhaps we don’t want to, we’re not motivated. Instead, we’re not doing very much.”
More practically, the idea of niksen is to take conscious, considered time and energy to do activities like gazing out of a window or sitting motionless. The less-enlightened might call such activities “lazy” or “wasteful.” Again: nonsense.
We at Smarter Living have long been fans of taking regular breaks throughout the day, as study after study shows that feeling drowsy, exhausted or otherwise mentally depleted during the workday drastically hinders performance and productivity.
In other words: Whether at home or at work, permission granted to spend the afternoon just hanging out.
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Why we need niksen in our lives
Generally speaking, our culture does not promote sitting still, and that can have wide-reaching consequences for our mental health, well-being, productivity and other areas of our lives. Technology doesn’t make it any easier: The smartphone you carry with you at all hours makes it almost impossible to truly unplug and embrace idleness. And by keeping ourselves busy at all times, we may be losing our ability to sit still because our brains are actually being rewired.
Indeed, the benefits of idleness can be wide-ranging.
Ms. Mann’s research has found that daydreaming — an inevitable effect of idleness — “literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas.” For that to happen, though, total idleness is required.
“Let the mind search for its own stimulation,” Ms. Mann said. “That’s when you get the daydreaming and mind wandering, and that’s when you’re more likely to get the creativity.”
[Like what you’re reading? Sign up here for the Smarter Living newsletter to get stories like this (and much more!) delivered straight to your inbox every Monday morning.]
Counterintuitively, idleness can be a great productivity tool because “if our energy is totally shot, our productivity is not going to be good because we’re not going to have fuel to burn with which to be productive,” said Chris Bailey, a productivity expert and author of the blog “A Life of Productivity.”
Niksen can help you solve problems as well.
“It takes you out of your mind, and then you see things clearly after a while,” said Manfred Kets de Vries, a professor of leadership development and organizational change at Insead in Paris.
But stopping the cycle of business can be challenging in a culture that prizes getting things done. Here are some tips to help you stop and be:
Make time for doing nothing, and do it with purpose.
Figure out when you’re most productive and creative, then notice when your mind starts to shut off or you start performing tasks just for the sake of doing them, Mr. Bailey suggests. That’s when you should go for a walk or take a break. The intention behind the decision is what counts.
“I do nothing with purpose,” Mr. Kets de Vries said. “I know that without breaks I cannot be effective.”
Prioritize the things that are important to you and the things that bring you pleasure, and outsource everything else when possible. Focusing on the truly relevant parts of life can help you build free time in your schedule. And take advantage of convenient opportunities to practice idleness, like when you’re standing in line or waiting for the children to come home from school.
Resist the culture of busyness.
If you’re doing nothing, own it. When someone asks you what you’re doing during a nothing break, simply respond, “Nothing.” Be unapologetic about taking breaks or holidays, and if you start to feel guilty about being seen as lazy, think of niksen not as a sign of laziness but as an important life skill. Choose the initial discomfort of niksen over the familiarity of busyness.
Manage your expectations.
Learning takes time and effort, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch on immediately to the benefits of idleness. Know that sitting still might actually be uncomfortable at first and might take practice — just like exercise.
Ms. Dodgen-Magee likens it to beginning a new workout routine: At first, you might get sore, but “after a while, you’ll find yourself in this moment where you’re like, ‘Oh, this feels fantastic.’”
Reorganize your environment.
Your surroundings can have a major impact on how much nothingness you can embrace, so consider the physical space in your home and workplace. Keep your devices out of reach so that they’ll be more difficult to access, and turn your home into a niksen-friendly area. Add a soft couch, a comfy armchair, a few cushions or just a blanket. Orient furniture around a window or fireplace rather than a TV.
“If those spaces are present, people will use them,” Ms. Dodgen-Magee said.
Think outside of the box.
If you can’t sit still in your home or workplace, go to the park or book a relaxing day at the spa. Ms. Dodgen-Magee encourages people to host boredom parties, during which a host invites over a few friends to … be bored together.
Mr. Bailey suggests experimenting with different lifestyles to find the right one for you. For example, he lived like a slob for a week and learned that it’s important to “let the air out of the tires” once in a while.
If you’re still uncomfortable with the idea of doing nothing, try to trick your mind into thinking you’re being productive. Ms. Dodgen-Magee suggests using open-end toys such as kinetic sand, Baoding balls or marble runs.