26 June 2008

Kinetic Productivity: Part I -- The Analogy

I learned today that my former co-worker has created a website called PickTheBrain.com. I was browsing some of the articles and came about one on productivity. He suggests utilizing "surges of mental activity" as opposed to forcing our mental activity into a continuous 8 hour block.

This reminded me of an interesting passage by tech whiz Aaron Swartz:
"With all the time you spend watching TV," he tells me, "you could have written a novel by now." It's hard to disagree with the sentiment -- writing a novel is undoubtedly a better use of time than watching TV -- but what about the hidden assumption? Such comments imply that time is "fungible" -- that time spent watching TV can just as easily be spent writing a novel. And sadly, that's just not the case.
In addition to what these gentleman say, I believe I've discovered a little known productivity limiter; bear with me as I coin the phrase "kinetic productivity" with respect to working life. Think back to high school physics when you were working out how much work it would take to get a ball resting at the bottom of a hill up to the top. Once at the top, you can simply roll it down the other side; converting all its potential energy into kinetic energy.

Now think of the kinetic energy as productivity. As long as the ball has kinetic energy (productivty), it can move (get work done). As it rolls along, the forces of friction (work) eventually dissapate the kinetic energy and you are left at the bottom of another hill (low mental activity).

Stay tuned for Part II in which I decode analogy further--defining the hill and methods for climbing it.


Chris said...

I like where this is going.

chris said...

Been waiting a long time for part 2, but now I want a post on something else. Opine on regulation in financial markets from your generally libertarian point of view, given that a lack of regulation seems to have caused the current disaster. (That sounds pointed, but I'm open to any arguments. I don't pretend to know the answers myself.)

Haha, I can't tell you what to write on your blog, and maybe you don't have any specific opinions on this, but it's an article I'd like to read so I propose it. Maybe talk about how Friedman would have analyzed this situation? Take a stab at it however you want. Just wondering if you have a take on the current crisis.