Why Time Management is Ruining Our Lives

We live in a world today that is focused on productivity and output. We are surrounded by peers who burn the midnight oil and give all their time to their work. Is that the right idea? Are we better for all of this time management?

These are the ideas that the Guardian tackles in "Why Time Management is Ruining Our Lives".

Programming is an intensely creative task. Without the space to think and develop novel ideas and approaches, quality suffers. Ruminate on the impact of modern productivity and ask yourself:

  • Is this model helping me produce the best software that I can produce?
  • How can I adjust this paradigm to suit my creative needs?

My Highlights

If you're a professional programmer (especially in silicon valley) you are probably used to tight deadlines:

Part of the problem is simply that thinking about time encourages clockwatching, which has been repeatedly shown in studies to undermine the quality of work. In one representative experiment from 2008, US researchers asked people to complete the Iowa gambling task, a venerable decision-making test that involves selecting playing cards in order to win a modest amount of cash. All participants were given the same time in which to complete the task – but some were told that time would probably be sufficient, while others were warned it would be tight. Contrary to an intuition cherished especially among journalists – that the pressure of deadlines is what forces them to produce high-quality work – the second group performed far less well. The mere awareness of their limited time triggered anxious emotions that got in the way of performance.

Programming is a creative act. Take the time to think:

The best companies I visited, all through the years, were never very hurried,” DeMarco said. “Maybe they used pressure from time to time, as a sort of amusing side-effect. But it was never a constant. Because you don’t get creativity for free. You need people to be able to sit back, put their feet up, and think.” Manual work can be speeded up, at least to a certain extent, by increasing the time pressure on workers. But good ideas do not emerge more rapidly when people feel under the gun – if anything, the good ideas dry up.