Throw away the bullet diary and stay in bed as long as you want


It was last week Goldman Sachs. A week before that was JPMorgan Chase. It won’t be a shock if another Wall Street bank tells workers next week that they should be ready to return to the office regularly by June or July.

In places where a pandemic is showing signs of easing, it is quickly possible to imagine a continuation of some normal working life opportunity. Or is it?

I didn’t realize how much Covid changed my view of normalcy until junk email passed the day next to my spam filter and posted the best time management trick.

“Start the habit of waking up before dawn,” tweeted someone who called himself a “growth thinking hacker” from Silicon Valley.

Before 2020, I would calmly press the delete button and continue with the day. This is my general approach to almost every idea to increase productivity that has fallen by the wayside.

I swear by the people I admire bullet magazine,, boxing,, time separation and other things that promise to turn useless solitaire-dependent sloths into heavy-duty efficiency models. I’ve never been able to convince myself that it’s worth anything, although I make an exception to the principles behind the Pomodoro technique, where you set a timer that will cause intense rush of work throughout the day.

In any case, the sight of that e-mail from Silicon Valley caused an unexpected wave of outrage. Whoever has time to think about time management at a time like this, I found myself mentally messy.

My work day usually passes in zoom-blurred meetings and interviews, and it’s far easier than others. I’m not trying to fit that into caring for toddlers or school-age kids, unlike some exhausted friends.

“I don’t know how I’ll ever find time to recover from this year,” one with a big job said the other day. Given that we’re both glad we’re still employed, it’s no surprise that productivity levels seem to have risen in many businesses, including those where Covid sent people home to work.

More than 80 percent of leaders with a suddenly distant workforce said their companies are at least as productive as before, and study found in Europe last year. More than 40 percent said they were somewhat or significantly more productive.

But that was 2020. As the pandemic wears off this year, some are starting to worry. “We have begun to notice a decline in employee engagement. You just can’t maintain these levels of productivity, “Sunil Prashara, executive director of the Project Management Institute, a professional group, told a conference last month.

In other words, many workers need more than a log diary to help them cope with burnout. That’s why it’s frustrating when we’re told it’s time to get up before dawn to cram even more into our busy days. In fact, the Covid crisis has exposed a fundamental flaw in the whole idea that we can blue our path to productivity by changing our routine. Millions have now convinced themselves that broader systemic changes are needed – like all those ordered to work at home at the same time – to allow for many efficiency improvements.

Squeezing my daily journey from the touching two-hour morning rush to a second long walk to the kitchen table means I start work earlier and calmer than ever before.

Once I get there, I don’t need to download any apps to deal with disrupting a busy open plan office, because those redirects no longer exist. As American academic Cal Newport has shown in his recent book, A world without email, the monumental outflow of time caused by work email is a systemic monster it can’t be fixed by simply messing with spam filters or writing better headlines.

Like many things in modern working life, the problem requires a far more serious structural revision than anything one person can achieve on their own, no matter how early they emerge from bed each morning.

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Twitter: @pilitaclark

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