The futility of mobile productivity

Right now I should be writing some marketing collateral for the international arm of our business. But my ‘office’ is not conducive to being creative.

It’s so hot and humid, my laptop is covered in condensation. I’m dripping with sweat – as are my co-workers, fellow dads cramped on wooden benches, trying to ignore the noises emanating from the intercom – an incomprehensible stream of words echoing round the building at full blast.

Today’s office is a swimming pool. I’m here to watch my son compete. He swims for a minute, waits for an hour, competes, waits, competes… This goes on for the whole day, so in-between races I try to catch up on work. Even though it’s a Sunday, I have a deadline to meet.

Which makes me realise: I cannot remember the last time I could work on a single job uninterrupted until it was finished. Wherever I try to do this – and the obvious place should be the office but it isn’t –  there are noise, movement, people or irrelevant bits of information getting in the way. Is mobile productivity overrated?

Working on a train

Clonk clonk… clonk clonk… tickets please…  ding dong da dah ding dong dah da dong  [pause] hello?… hello? … I’m on the train… what?…. ah yes….sorry the signal is going… clonk clonk clonk..  to those passengers who have just boarded, you’re on the train and it’s going to…  please take all your belongings…. the buffet car sells sandwiches… hello? hello? ding dong da dah…

Working on a plane

Please turn off all electronic devices until the seatbelt sign has been switched off. In what seems like 15 minutes later: As the seatbelt sign has been switched on please turn off all electronic devices.

Working in a waiting lounge

The person who has lost his passport please contact the front desk…  Flight 467 which you are not booked on, or even remotely interested in, is now ready for boarding….  no, I’m talking this loud so everyone in this room can hear how important I am… what? who took this decision?… ding dong da dah..  bing! you have new mail…

Working in the office

Have you got a minute… ring ring…  can you move your car please…  ring ring… can I pick your brains…  bing! new mail… what’s wrong with the air conditioning… dooooooooooooot… fire alarm test completed … ding dong you have new mail… ring ring… yes I’ll be there…  ding! http error…  Outlook reminder:  the next pointless meeting is in 15 minutes…

Working at home

I’m just popping out, can you get the washing out when it’s finished? …  miaouw… food!  hey daddy’s home, what can we play!

Working anywhere with a 3G or Wifi connection

updating…. updating… downloading…  [The will power required not to press any refresh buttons will burn 2000 calories or 80% of your daily energy reserve.]

Is this the new age of productivity?

I’m no religious person but I fully appreciate why many religions advocate *dedicated* times for reflection, work, family and leisure. Whatever happened to resting on the seventh day I don’t know: it’s a Sunday and, while I’m typing on my laptop and my son is competing in the water, my wife and daughter have gone out to do the shopping because there is no time to do it in the week.

Just remind me again, what exactly is it that we were so busy with during the week?

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One thought on “The futility of mobile productivity

  1. Due to reasons beyond my comprehension (but which I am trying to comprehend — cultural perhaps?), the *appearance* of being busy has replaced being productive and the results thereof as a measure of one’s “value”. The result is “multitasking”, people walking around with Bluetooth earpieces, an environment of perpetual interruptions viewed as normal, and shrinking attention spans.

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