Why we should be less productive. 2019-05-09T12:41:47.769Z · score: -5 (20 votes)


Comment by jakob_j on What books or bodies of work, not about EA or EA cause areas, might be beneficial to EAs? · 2019-06-14T17:10:50.483Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for posting! I have an analytic background and have therefore found it particularly useful to shore up on "soft skills" from books like:

Working with emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman

Daring greatly, Brené Brown

The wilderness, Brené Brown

I also read articles and listen to podcasts from Harvard Business Review on emotional intelligence, leadership, and management.

Comment by jakob_j on Why we should be less productive. · 2019-05-10T18:35:38.365Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for your comments Aaron and Lukas. From my own experience, I have definitely encountered more people with an always-working mentality within EA than outside it. Anectodally, almost all the people (~ 10) I have met who seriously consider meal replacements as adequate alternatives to home cooked food have been EAs. This might be an inverse causal effect (ambitious people might like the EA concept more than others), but it is still problematic if people feel the need to constantly optimize themselves and work harder due to the social pressure within EA.

Comment by jakob_j on Why we should be less productive. · 2019-05-09T19:43:04.439Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for your comment, and I think you are correct on the mechanism of action. I have noticed that my own productivity has gone up since I started giving myself more unproductive time every day, as I am more able to focus and feel less distracted by thoughts. But it only works when I allow the unproductive time to be truly for myself, and not spent thinking about how this will make me more productive.

Comment by jakob_j on Why we should be less productive. · 2019-05-09T15:47:21.949Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I think productivity is highly emphasized both within EA and within the wider society, especially in the context of work and studies. There is not nearly the same amount of emphasis placed on unproductive downtime and its value for our mental and physical well-being. I think that if most of our productive "output" comes over a long-term career, we need to value our own time more.

Another way of thinking about it is that being highly productive is not in itself a virtue, a bit like driving 150 km/h on the highway in a random direction doesn't necessarily take you to where you need to go! So I would say its probably better to be driving a bit slower and taking lots of breaks along the way to check that you are going in the right direction.

Comment by jakob_j on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-05T11:52:49.730Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing, and thanks to everyone for adding their own perspectives to this discussion. I would like to offer my view, which is informed by having gone through difficult periods myself.

I think its a mistake to get too involved with the view that getting a job in an EA org is the only way to make a difference in the world, or indeed to ourselves. In order to stay healthy I think we need to realize that there are other things that matter in the world than EA, such as our relations and our wellbeing. If we get too emotionally attached to the idea of making a huge, cosmic difference to the world by working at an EA org, we can get carried away and forget that we also have a responsibility towards ourselves. As an added benefit, if we take care of ourselvces we are happier, more resilient, can take on more risk, and more willing to work towards a long-term goal, all of which are good personality traits to eventually have higher impact in life.