Bowie On The Frontlines of Productivity


How are your adventures? Mine are beyond fantastical.

It’s been one whole week into my Day Job sabbatical. And it’s just amazing. Freedom to think and tea and listen to music and not wear pants and nap and meet cool people and of course…work. Whatever that means.

You know how freeing it is to work, just work with no care or concern about productivity or output? Outstanding. But with all that freedom comes this irritatingly nagging voice that I didn’t do enough today. What the hell is that?!

It’s that industrial work voice…I don’t work in a factory or in construction I don’t have to measure my output. You know who cares if I did “a lot of work” today? Nobody. You know who cares if I didn’t do anything at all? Nobody! Nobody except me. So it’s utterly ridiculous to have this nagging voice, this ugly managerial conscience issuing me any sort of performance review. Especially because I never measure up…I didn’t “do enough.” Critique the feedback.

I could write one page a day, that doesn’t seem like a lot but in 1 year I’d have 365 pages or…a novel. So I’m trying to figure out how to murder that ugly productivity whisper, I want it gone from my life and especially my work.

I finally made the connection at the Bowie AGO exhibit for David Bowie it’s about the process not the product. In 1972 when Bowie went into the studio to record The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust the songs were written and rehearsed. He just went into the studio and knocked it out. 4 albums later, in 1976 he went into the studio to record Station to Station…with absolutely nothing. Not a single note, not a notebook…nothing.

Do you grasp how remarkable that is? He completely switched up his process…even though the output, “the work” was the same (enough good songs to fill up an album). I was utterly floored when I made that connection. Bowie man, Bowie.

So here I am, a grown man, over 30 years old and for the first time I’m trying to figure out how to work. I’m trying…hard to kill useless concepts breed into my as a kid…about productivity and how we work, how long we work so I can tackle and explore what Bowie did…does.

To be nimble enough to switch up your process while still being free enough to be creative and unique. And get good “work done.”


Also published on Medium.

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