With the inundation of self-development articles flooding my Medium home page, written by Medium writers with upwards of 30,000 followers, it is undeniable that the topics of consumerism and productivity rank highly.
Yes, consumerism. But this article is about productivity, right?
Right. Consumerism — more simply, consumption — is productivity’s long-lost sister. But we rarely find them coupled up.
Surprisingly, I have found that each topic individually appears to have amassed far more traffic than the two discussed in conjunction.
Peruse the productivity articles — no shortage there!
Likewise, peruse the consumption topic — also a substantial collection of work.
Seek quality articles that focus on the interaction of productivity and consumption — that’s where our collection falls short.
More specifically, I refer to balance of consumption vs production as opposed to each one individually.
Productivity is great. Simply peruse the self-development and productivity sections of Medium — you’ll find a plethora of knowledge, advice, and tips — complete with hyperlinked accessible resources to consult at your leisure. If you’re lucky, a few of them may be free; the rest are sales pitches in a desperate attempt to line the pockets of starving writers.
Desperate attempts which I support wholeheartedly! My intention is never to disparage the artisan lifestyle. I am a firm believer, all the way.
Consumption, on the contrary, has been sullied with a negative connotation. The term consumption conjures up images of gaudy material goods and maxed-out credit cards with magnetic strips that no longer function properly due to excessive wear.
Or perhaps it sparks a collection of images in your mind, each involving a distinct instance in which you yourself faithfully fulfilled the role of consumer.
Regardless, consumption is consistently associated with greed, materialism, and frivolous spending.
Perhaps your own experiences as a consumer fit these descriptions, maybe not all the time, but sometimes. Perhaps, not at all. Either way, I have no interest in judging your consumerist habits.
What does interest me is the importance of studying consumption in context with productivity. In my mind, consumption and productivity represent polar opposites of a broad spectrum of human behavior.
Consumption <— <— BALANCE— > — > Productivity
On one far end, consumption represents all things taken in: to our lives, to our homes, to our bodies and minds.
It includes all forms of visual, auditory, tactile, sensory, material, and cognitive input. Contextually, input describes consumed goods, services, or entities.
Keep in mind, that which is consumed need not fit the material description of goods. Everyone will have their own unique interpretation of what defines consumption, but the way I understand it, consumption is an umbrella term for all that we take in on a daily, monthly, and annual basis.
Consumption includes clothing and material goods that are purchased at the store. It includes fresh produce bought from a local farm owner. It includes books, blog posts, and news articles that we read. Visual presentations, lectures, speeches which we attend. Podcasts, radio shows, movies that we watch. Plays, musical performances, concerts. A night out at that uppity cocktail bar. A foot massage and pedicure.
All of the above represent consumption in action.
In stark contrast, productivity encompasses that which we create or produce. Productivity results in output.
Depending on your lifestyle, what defines your output varies greatly. Construction workers, architects, and engineers all build structures. Scientists produce research. Chefs produce delectable culinary creations. Writers produce articles, blog posts, and novels. Customer service professionals provide efficient, friendly service.
So, productivity is a widely applicable concept. Everyone relates to it. Everyone wants to be productive. All ages, all walks of life.
Which might explain its role as one of the most popular, highly trending topics not only on Medium, but on the internet entirely.
Because as humans, we are obsessed with being productive. We are obsessed with money. With profit, with business, with getting things done. All things which relate directly back to productivity.
As a society, we have become obsessed with productivity. Do, do, do! Focus. Set goals. Wake up at 5 A.M. Go, go, GO!
What scares me isn’t that such an obsession is utterly unattainable — which it is. What scares me is that not only is it impractical, it is dangerous to our health and well-being, and detrimental to our productivity — what we’ve been chasing after the whole time!
So, what do we do instead?
Focus on the balance. The delicate balance between productivity and consumption. Technically, that balance includes a third component — rest. But I won’t be discussing that here. In fact, I already wrote an entire article about that.
For now, let’s focus on consumption and productivity.
We’ve already paid individual attention to each. Now, let’s examine the two concepts together.
We need BALANCE. Balance is crucial. For every grueling productivity session spent hunched over the desk, focusing intently on creating, on producing, allocate time specifically dedicated to consumption — meaningful consumption, such as reading, watching a documentary, or attending a lecture or class.
Consumption is not inherently bad. In fact, consumption is necessary.
We must consume in order to learn, in order to better ourselves.
But in order to make an impact and give back, we must produce.
Both consumption and productivity are crucial components of a meaningful life.
But let’s cool it with the back-breaking productivity tactics. Cool it with the consumption obsession, too.
Ultimately, what we should be seeking is balance. We need balance.