Mark, Danny and the Jons present the Hitchhiker’s Guide to getting it all done.
In our new format, each panelist writes a short essay on the given topic, in the style of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the book with the large friendly letters on the cover. Our thanks to Emma Wright (@editorialgirl) for being the voice of the Guide.
I like Mark remembering why he doesn't do podcasts with us very regularly before we've even started the show. I like his little face that goes, oh my god.
Oh, you like to see hope die in my eyes? Is that you'd like to see, you'd like to see despair creep upon my my features when I realise that me has to edit this?
Come on Mark, you're at the wheel.. Let's go.
I'm Mark Steadman, and I've put writing this intro at the top of my to-do list.
I'm Danny Smith. The only good thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.
I'm Jon Bounds and, let's just get this done, eh?
I'm Jon Hickman and I bought 17 different pens Before I could write this.
It was on display and the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused laboratory with a sign on the door saying, be aware of the level.
This is Don't Panic, the bit at the arse end of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is where every so often we get together to share some words we've written that we think might slot into a pullout section of the guide. in so far as an electronic book can have a pullout section. Anyway, this week's â ha week's topic is productivity.
no, no, no, No. lads no, we do this every week. And we edit it and they're lovely podcasts. We just don't share them.
Yeah, we, we, we wait for the really good ones, the really good ones. This listener, this is the best that We can do.
If you come around to our house, there's a special room. And we'll say, our tastes somewhat strange, and you'll open the door and it'll be full of podcasts of us.
We're just laying down the bootleg series for future generations.
So lads what are your top productivity hacks to really leverage those synergies and maximize your deliverables? I want us to crush it.
Do you want actual productivity tips from us?
Right here's mine. Essentially do a half-arsed job.half-arsedike half-assed job's probably all right. You could draw a graph in the shape of, say, a leg. But like 70% of the effort produces something that's 90% good. And it's like the last 30% really doesn't do anything because no one really cares and no one really knows what good is. So just do a half-arsed job.
What I like there is you've got a mixture of one of the things, which is very much a thing in productivity in those circles, which is the 80 20 rule. But you've also mixed that with a sort of Bernie Sanders, the 90% of the 70% kind of vibe. So I think you've captured both productivity and Marxism it, which is the Venn diagram in which this podcast sets.
What Jon's really described is the sort of difference between waterfall and agile in a way he said don't sit around trying to make it perfect in your head and then deliver on it just have a go.
That's exactly how Jon writes. Jon will the thing perfectly in his head, not laying a word down until it's all done, whereas I will do three or four drafts and send them to him. It'd be like yeah. That's okay. You need to change this, you just need to change this. And I'll be like, oh, where's your Jon? And it's oh, it's brewing. Oh, it's brewing. But we're in fact he hasn't written a fucking word and he's waiting for the last minute because he needs to be in his words, it needs to be perfect in my head first.
Who would have thought then, in, in this little group, then we've got basically a project manager. And then we've got a waterfall based project deliverer and an agile based project deliver. I think this is I think we've got the makings of a seminar here, lads.
Can we have a game of Donny explains to us what our jobs are? Cause we did this a while back and it was a lot of fun with John Hickman when Danny explained to John Hickman, what John Hickman does.
I wonder if Danny can explain to John bounds what John bounds does?
John Burns works for a large charity. Yep. And he does things with the internet, managing their web presence. Is there more?
I thought it would have been a couple of years ago, so yeah.
I still don't know what John H does.
I think I said last time we had this discussion that John H basically sends t-shirts to angry people. And I think that's probably the best description could possibly be given. And I'm looking at his little face now.
He has to apologize to people by sending them t-shirts
so he's not sending the t-shirts that makes them angry, which would be a cool job. He's trying to make them less angry
he's trying to make the, he's trying to modify them. Yeah. By giving them t-shirts
I love the idea that you start off with no idea what sort of t-shirt would make them less angry and you just have to, you can gauge their anger. You have to go oh, here's a nice baggy a Knight in his Nirvana. One rule. No, that doesn't make them happy at all is a skinny fit Oasis one. Oh here's one of the very deep v-neck.
Scoring this game then Danny. Uh, So Danny against John Bounds, John bounce, a score of 10. How well did Donny do?
I'd give him eight a couple of years ago, but it's a little more complicated than that now, but also I haven't really done anything since the start of the pandemic.
10 out of 10.
Am I going to be hamstring this episode because I don't understand a lot of the productivity stuff?
A lot of it hasn't changed that much in terms of, I think a lot of the same kind of thinking I remember having a conversation with you back in the early 21st century, when you were talking about what kind of frog you were.
Oh my God.
shit like that is still what's happening now.
So I used to work for one of the biggest catering companies and basically they did catering for anywhere that needs catering. So they gave the prisoner food hospital, food, school dinners. They were the suppliers of that amongst other things.
They had a training day, the first training that I ever went to, I was only there a year or so. And I happened to be there at one of the train days quite early on. So half the day was about finding about the history of the company and where they come from and stuff. And I would argue that I don't need to know that to work for the company, but you know, you're paying me for it fine.
The other half of the day was taken by these trainers who were an independent company that came in and they wanted to assess what color froggy was. And when they gave you the color frog, you would take the frog and put it on the desk. So a different color, there was three different color frogs. I think there was a green frog for people that are like very passive and um, like to get on with their work and don't really like to talk, but they get a lot done
So those are those, the good boys and girls that
no, no, no, no, no, no. You wanted a red frog, the red frog with a go getters. They were the eight types. They were the people that made decisions.
Say green frogs or arc be frogs?
No, they're they're Oxy, frogs. Green frogs. Roxy. Cause they actually do
Yeah. And then there were yellow frogs, which were the people that liked to chat and socialize and held the company together using cohesive method methods.
And so they tried to inflict this frog base apartheid on us. And they explained what they were doing and they were giving out the frogs and then be like, okay, so we've assessed you, but what kind of frog do you think you are?
And I wasn't happy about. And I was like, please, my, I have all three frogs and they were like, why'd you want three frogs? And I was like, because I'm a human being and I have moods. Like sometimes I'm a go getter. Sometimes I feel chase. Sometimes I just want to get on with my work. And then we're like that's not how the system works. I'm like the system doesn't work very well then does it. And I was like, actually, can I have a purple frog? And they were like what you want to pop or frog? Cause sometimes I'm a go getter, but sometimes I, I ask again, so I want something that kind of reflects who I am as an individual that can't be boiled down to one of three colors.
And they were like, we've tried this in different companies and it seems to really work and I'm like, what metric are you measuring it working? Because you can't say it really works based on anecdotal evidence. Have you ever gone back and checked or is this just them go in? Yeah, you did a good job. And they were like, we don't want you at training anymore.
Something that was reflected back at me by the assessment that I didn't know, I was getting by my supervisor when I arrived at work next day. he, didn't even take me to another room. He took me to his seat on the desks that we all occupied and he was like um, so had your assessment back from training yesterday and I'm like out of interest, does everybody get assessed at training? And he was like, no, not really. And I was like, okay. And I was it. And he goes, you don't have to do training anymore.
You're going to come in here and work with me. And I was like, okay, why don't you go to training? And he was like, oh, I was thrown out of training three years ago when I questioned the same thing.
I made it my point then from then on, whenever I've walked through the office to steal the frogs off people's desks and put them on other people's desks to see obviously the chaos that would confuse because the system is so finely tuned that any sort of disruption of it would obviously cause like such massive chaos, no one even noticed nobody cared about the
So that, that's what interests me now. Cause I, I didn't realize that the code to this story is that the frogs continue and you're supposed to keep them with you as a marker of what kind of worker you are so that someone can scan the Savannah of a working office and be able to pick out the different groups of.
Oh yeah, no, it was the mark. It was the velvet mark. Like it was the Scarlet letter, but it was oh, this man is a chatter. Stay away from him because he will draw you in with his nonsense and Babel and oh, this man's a go getter. He's going places like fucking just, and they just made it up. It wasn't like based on any sort of research, it was obvious. And I started asking the manager how much they pay for trainers and stuff. And I was with paying them. And uh, he said like, you really need to drop that because that's an issue that's going on at the moment.
I like the idea that essentially there must have been a frog quota because what if everyone you're there on the day and you've got 34% red, 33 green, 33 yellow. But you got a room of 50% reds. You used to be like, wow, he's a bit green adjacent. I'll give him that for convenience.
don't want to have to follow up with my frog here.
If you've got 33% green, 33% red, 33% blue you're missing something. In which case you haven't got a frog quorum.
that is true. You can't there's no voting rights.
Do you know what was more popular than the frogs being displayed on the desks? I rep came round for the M six toll road that was just opening up. Right. And he gave out, little squishy. I think they looked like pills essentially, but I think they were just squishy toys, stress relievers with M six toll written on, but because of a misprint, it looked like it said troll. Nearly every person had one of them on their desk, but it was rare that you saw somebody prior to their frog.
I think the M six trolls of the road at the A5 near me and it keeps on going who's that going over my bridge? Who's that going over my bridge? Who's that going over my bridge?
So first up to present to you, our writings is me. I've got things that I've written uh, on the subject of productivity. And I think this will make itself obvious as we, as we go in. Let's fight fire up the guide
This article was published in a brief period when the guide was under the ownership of the vapes media group, who made a number of sweeping changes to the layout and structure of articles in the hopes that any unused space around, for example, the words on the page could be taken up with targeted advertising.
Ultimately this effort to radically rethink the guide's monetization strategy, didn't pay off. As most people found, the guide became too uncomfortably hot to hold. After a few minutes of reading, due to the processing power required to tap into the reader's cerebral cortex to find out whether they prefer a meat-based or meat free hamburger to be shown to them because they weren't looked up the definition of muscle.
Whilst many of those articles have been superseded by the user editable, galactic media. Some inexplicably remain like this early draft of a listicle on productivity,
five unbelievable productivity hacks you're an asshole for not using number three. We'll leave you screaming.
The only way to fatten a nocturia and mega check-in is to keep feeding it. Veet Vudu gig.
That quote doesn't have anything to do with the topic of this article, but lots of people search for it. We don't actually know if Veit ever said that, but it's the sort of thing he would say. So that's good enough for our purposes.
Now for something general about how the pace of working life has got to be too fast what would the house and the kids and the robot spouse and the sexually frustrated dog in this era of Sabetha cheese, graters and microwaveable DNA, it can be hard to fit it all in or something. Karen, get one of the juniors to fill this bit in with something their age group actually knows about it.
Ever wonder how those fat cats on Ursa, minor Bita crush it 11 days a week and still make time for Brockie and ultra cricket. We've got you. Here are the five productivity hacks. Those bastards don't want you to know about Karen is this too aggressive space for an ad space for an ad space for an ad.
Number one, delete your email. We all know about grow Tim dinks, inbox, never strategy where all Sabetha mail is forwarded straight from the sender's outbox into your trash, saving you the time and hassle of having to read or act upon any message that might come your way. But that's far too time consuming and all that time watching emails get deleted is time that should be spent sinking pan galactic, gargle, blasters, or recording a podcast.
So now simply cut out the middleman and delete your email account. Hang on, just waiting for the next page to load number two, go to bed and never wake up. We all know meetings are toxic and the longer you're awake, the more of your precious calendar can be taken up discussing meetings, calendarizing meetings, and in some cases, even attending meetings. That's why we recommend going to bed preferably on a rest Dacula mattress affiliate link here and only waking up to perform bodily functions. Number three eliminate all bodily functions. Did you know the average sentence life form spends between two and 39 hours every week.
Ejecting water vapor, high-performance petrol or other waste from their bodies. This is time that should be spent undermining your in-laws or recording a podcast. The new happy tubes, Excretia erase your device secures firmly to one or any of your body's points of egress and constantly milks you throughout the day.
You will learn to love the gentle sucking motion of the happy tubes. Excretia erase your device. And after a while, you won't even notice the searing pain or blood loss, but what you will notice is how many more hours in the day you. Related articles. Zaphod Beeblebrox bites back at cancel culture, eccentric or Columbus on her botched nipple reshaping, slighty, Bart fast looks at fjords fails to secure a second season.
Number four, take all the drugs. Procrastinating do it all. And signups the lacks are all widely available in most reputable chemists throughout the nether regions of the galaxy, but who hasn't been at a party and been offered a couple of lines of powdered broccoli and ultra. While, of course we at the guide would never condone the taking of any illicit substances unless we're taken over by someone hip.
Again, there's something to be said for that sharp kick in the brain stem that you can only get from a bumper broke cane. Try it today. Number five, own your calendar. Literally. Dr. Juven, stop hammer time bender magazines, pinup of the month. And the selling author of take your time is the pioneer of a new thought technology that essentially empowers people to reshape the fundamental nature of their time management for Dr.
Stock Palmer time is simply not only an illusion, but one which is seen differently by each observed. For a nominal fee of $268,000 Terry and dollars, you can attend a stop hammer, time refactoring seminar, where you will learn how to create your own calendar divide months, weeks, and even days into arbitrary units of your choosing and avoid any potential work deadlines foisted on you by people with incompatible.
The fewer deadlines you have to meet the more time you can spend scrolling through ads, picking wax out of your ear or recording a podcast. Free webinars on calendar. Reframing, run every weekday at 2,600 stop hammer time.
my, should we just pack it in because we're not, I'm not going to be, we're not going to be that.
I hadn't planned for this to be so good.
that why you wanted to go first? a thing you want it to fucking blow us off the stage?
usually what happens is we all get blisteringly drunk and then I'm the last one to record and everybody's already sleepy. So I thought I'd get mine in first while I was still able to vaguely see.
I, I mean, I was basically upset that I felt like I should have taken some sort of survey in order to be able to listen to
Please rate and review the survey. It really helps the survey get discovered.
Mark, have you written a list of court before? Because I don't want to cast aspersions on you mate here, but now we've got a back channel sorry, sorry to bring the listeners behind the curtain with me here. We've got a back channel. We've all been a bit against it today trying to write some stuff and mystical is a good way of just getting there. Isn't it mark. It's a good way of getting there
It's a good way of shooting out.
Can I just, actually, if we're going to mention the back channel, can I say that this is a little inside baseball, so excuse the indulgence, but all day on the back channel, everyone was like, oh, I'm so against it. Oh, I haven't even started. I'm not sure this is any good. And mark say ah, yeah, no, I'm not sure. Is that knowing that you absolutely fucking nailed
that's bullshit that's, if we're going to play
all in the.
If you're going to apply, if we're going to apply them, them tactics, then you get ready for next week.
appreciate it is what it is very much the joke, but like even when you're doing a podcast or what we'd sometimes do when we were writing stuff in paradise circus
paradise circus, by the way, being a being a local website about the city that we are nominally interested in for those that don't know
We mentioned it enough. I thought they'd be
Every every episode is an opportunity for a new listener, John
Well, yeah, it's an opportunity for us to talk about Birmingham at great length. Someone in Atlanta. So, hi. No we'll often lean on the list to call because it's just we just need to shut it out. And that explains where we are right with newspapers. Doesn't it really does. Which is your central, the central bank of your joke about like Karen, but get the millennials to write a bit in here when they finished having their avocados on toast
I I felt personally attacked by that, by the way. Cause often I'll send stuff to John with just like fucking stars next to a paragraph
Yeah. We put something good in here, John and John is so adept at writing like me that like can do that.
Did we watch the Bo Burnham inside thing?
Bo Burnham lost his mind during lockdown and made a comedy special from inside one room, which he pretty much didn't leave for like a year. And it's harrowing, but also funny. And he writes some smashing songs. But there's, it does a song and the line is daddy made you some content. It's your favorite open wide.
that makes me so uncomfortable as somebody that produces something on the internet. so when you
W when we're introducing our stuff, it's very hard. It's very hard not to replay in our mind that we like that he made you some content.
It's only content. If we have any plans to monetize or I don't know. Oh shit. Sell a book over it. Oh no. it is content. It's not just the thing we made for a hobby that's fun that none of us have monetized and in fact has lost us money. Now it's content because it's technically a long game for a promotion for a book that will cost 5 99, and we'll sit
it's funny. You should mention books mark, because that's where I'm taking you right now
The best book that was never written. The guide claims was written by Mr. Peter Donaldson of number 27 B Longdale road. Reigate Surrey earth Donaldson lift for some 37 years until his house was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass leaving his first novel thoroughly unstuck. We know this story only because the sheer emptiness of meaningful progress made on the work, which in fact would have been the first volume of a groundbreaking diet created at the moment of his death, a quantum event that triggered observation equipment, many millions of light years away in the research laboratory of productivity, anthropologist, Gerken, tack TC tack TC was so excited by the alarm that she immediately began to make plans to invest in.
Within three years and after just 1,137 to do lists TAC, TC realized she needed a bigger white board to mind map the requirements for the trip. Four years after that 2,391 to do lists TAC, TC had gathered many requirements and began working on a system to prioritize the work. Seven years later, still she'd now delivered nine conference papers on the work three of which she had actually drafted as journal articles.
Two of those had not been sent to publishers, but one had come back the paper entitled. If Zaphod Beeblebrox had a job, the quantum signature of doing nothing had received warm praise from its first peer review. However review a number two pointed out that tack TCS work was naive and dull beyond imagining, and hasn't even cited my own papers.
They fought Beeblebrox ate my Gibbs on quantum theory, applied to Bernie and motion in warm drinks. Yeah. Is eight and nine were spent writing funding beds to give more time for TAC TC to plan her field work, to investigate the gaping void of action in space time. Yeah, it's 10 to 12, went on outreach to engage stakeholders in the local community.
With this valuable work. During year 13, tack TC took a sabbatical to work on a much delayed manuscript for an old project. In your 14 tack TC was made a Dean in recognition of her glowing career. Her first objective as senior management was to bring in workload modeling as she felt there was a general lack of productivity amongst the faculty.
Her model is yet to be implemented on this, the 4000th anniversary of her death. Had she ever made the trip to the site of the quantum disruption? She would have eventually pieced together the following. Mr. Peter Donaldson of number 27 B Longdale road, Reigate Surrey earth who never wrote a word of the most important book, never written died owing 1,867 pounds in credit card debt run up at Ryman stationary.
His desktop PC contained 29 different distraction-free writing programs, 28 on opened, and as his plan, it was vaporized. He held in his hand, a copy of the book, getting things.
that puts me in mind of a piece of technology that Mr. John bounds owned and talked about in a very early episodes.
Of this particular podcast, John bounds. Would you like to tell us about that
how's your Hemmingway Jon?
Having right, please.
It was lovely. I flubbed it got almost the, all the money I'd spent on it. It was bad, basically a computer where they're taking all the computer away. It was meant to be a nice tight writer. You know How some keyboards are a bit like pressing on like a slice of cheese, but it was like it was a good keyboard of all good action and all that. And it was portable and, battery operated meant the less, the long time and stuff, but it turned out it wasn't the access to the internet that was stopping me writing. It was the access to the rest of the world, or at least that's what I thought until they did the whole lockdown thing. And then it was, became the access to something else.
What I really liked about John's piece and all of our pieces since is that we mentioned Zaphod beetle Brooks a lot and I love the idea there's I fought is a the only language I've got to describe this is from Marvel from the comics, but the TV is using, it is a nexus character. So for some reason, the universe has decided that their life is important and the things that they do affect everyone.
That explains the total perspective vortex.
Love the idea that like, this kind of chancer has just lucked into this life where everything he does. Yeah. Is there everything he does is significant where there are people around him that really try and really care and really like really put the effort in and like their life is as inconsequential as like anyone else's. And I loved the fact that we all pick up on that vibe and reflect it a lot.
Right at the start of the original radio series and kind of in the start of the first book, it's intimated that four prefects and Arthur den are supremely important in the history of the Hitchhiker's guide and the, and he just, it's never addressed. They are. So here's a story of some of the minds behind it.
.Idea of a passive hero is something that still hasn't quite been explored. Like it's all about like a hero's journey and like the hero refusing the call and then get past the barriers. And yeah, there is a certain amount that does overlap with the know Hitchhiker's guide. But the idea that the person that is doing that is also supremely passive, and like never stopped refusing the call, but got dragged along anyway. There's something very neat about that and something very fresh still.
So who is, who is Peter Donaldson, then?
Oh he didn't write the best book ever written.
I mean, Let's face it. It's probably me is now
having, having spat it out in something of a pinch today and I've read it back. I was very aware of the fact that we've collected several thousand pounds this week for writing a book. I thought I've not done any writing for the inside baseball answer to that is that John and Danny and I have just done a Kickstarter and we got packed massively on it. And
It funded how many percent?
Did we hit
Yeah, I think, I think he did over 500%.
Uh, If you follow BTL podcast on Twitter, you will have seen the retweets about this. But yes these gentlemen have been working on book which is called Birmingham. It's not shit or not work. We're planning to work, asking for your money.
of it's in my head, John,
of it's in my head. All right. Just
So will this be a, an
get off my dick about
Right. If this, if this does make it into the podcast, can I just point out? I read all John based stuff. Yesterday
It's wonderful. It's really good. In fact, so good. I can't write the rest of mine because there is an impossible standard to reach and I'm probably going to have to do something drastic,
Stop letting perfect. Be the enemy of good Danny. That's fine.
But it's like this podcast. I pretend that I'm not competitive. But every week I'm going to beat you fuckers every single fucking week. When mark is all self-effacing and I dunno, I'm doing fucking nails it, it kills me a little insight. Every single time he's winning beats me. Cause he does beat me and I hate it.
just, just, okay. Cut that
If, If you're not sure if you if you're interested in the book that Danny and John and I are writing, when Danny did the bit earlier on about frogs earlier on, and he was explaining how everyone's a different frog and how Danny did this at this big moment where he was like, yeah, but I'm different frogs at different times. I was like, that was literally the only piece of written for our books. So far about critical theory and about identity politics.
Oh, no. Danny had just beaten me already by doing a bit about frogs. So if you wanna, if you want to have a book where I take that and make it more boring and then apply it to Birmingham please pre-order the novel, now
That's slightly tautological statement, but we'll go with it.
Jon Bounds, you've been you've. You've done some writing on the subject of productivity. I hear.
I was thinking that there are two sorts of productivity. There's the stuff that I think you were addressing mark and in new John tangentially, where you have this great desire to get stuff done or get shit done. And there's a sense in which there's another angle to productivity, which you don't care where the shit gets done or not, but because of the way capital works, you are obliged to get shit done for those that own the means of production if you see what I mean,
Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. We are now entering John's socialism corner.
it didn't honestly, it didn't start out as that this started out. This is not that I was going to do.
Remember any wrong move. We took you behind the curtain into the back channel earlier today. Jonathan bounce said, I'm not doing anything about socialism today. I have already covered everything that Marxism has to say on this matter.
well, they it turns out I'd covered everything that Marx has to say, but there are other Marxists, um,
angles. Come on then.
no, it's not ankles. We're talking basically sort of Italian theorists now, but um, we're uh, yes,
Oh Grammo Gramdog? Gram MC?
I started off trying to write, what are these airy fairy science fictiony Ooh, Spacey things that you all like with the funny planet names and everything. And I got, and I had this concept and I thought, oh, you're all we can all blame me. Oh yes. We can do that.
with a little bit, with a little bit, I thought we could do that, but, and I thought a bit of all that sort of dark stuff that you all like, faster than light. I don't know. All that paradoxes.
Too many heads.
Can I point out John is a genuine friend of us is not just some like communists that we've pressed ganged into pretending to talk about Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy so he can
knows more about Douglas Adams, the three of us there
genuinely our friend, this isn't a fucking pillow.
Danny. He's only here because the five-year plan says we have to get a hundred podcasts out.
I'm funded by today, but but
what, who knows? But anyway, but I said, you, you might notice that this starts off very much in the sort of Spacey wheel house.
loved her in the scream franchise.
She was amazing. Have you never seen Spacey wheelhouse? She's When she got her wipes out.
But essentially, as you might discover aides, essentially, a lot of poo jokes with some Marxist theory tactile.
That's that note? That option no longer exist. Isn't it?
Motion without time is impossible. Time without motion is just decay, time and motion. Is people looking at you frowning and using a stopwatch on your passport? Although it's beloved of certain types of business and is supposedly to improve productivity time. And motion is not to be confused with time is money as this is complete nonsense only said by the kind of people who also say, I enjoy a round of golf, people need to take personal responsibility, or I wouldn't live in Birmingham itself.
There were a few too many black. The concept behind a time and motion study is to benchmark how a task is carried out, how long each part of it takes and to establish where productivity could be improved by changing practices. The practice of a time and motion study is for someone with a stopwatch to time, how long it takes you to do a mobile.
Time and motion studies are part of what is called a Taylorist scientific management approach based on the idea that most workers who are forced to perform repetitive tasks tend to work at the slowest rate that goes unpunished. The originator. Frank Taylor suggested that time and motion studies combined with rational analysis could uncover one best method for performing any particular task and that prevailing methods were seldom equal to those best methods.
By making a task, more efficient productivity increases and bosses can reduce the number of workers with a small increase in the number of management roles. In most industries, it was found that you could reduce head count by spending time counting the time taken to use their bottoms.
Fordism named after Henry Ford, motor mogul and only American who adult Hitler, compliments by name in mind. Camp takes this concept and expands the automation and assembly line nature of the work. This in turn leads to alienation of the workers from the activity and eventual replacement by robot.
Fordism named after the guide editor Ford prefect rejects much of this and posits that our workers should spend much of their time avoiding motion and reclining with a large drink. This in turn leads to eventual replacement by robots at across the universe time and motion studies are only carried out on the lowest paid manual work.
If they are attempted environments where any amount of creativity is allowed, a young Zaphod Beeblebrox or species equivalent responds with something. Like if you've got the time, I've got the motion baby and a thrust of whatever passes for hips, depending on the local reproductive system. When traveling, you may often need to take temporary employment of the kind where you will be monitored and alienated unions will recommend you join them to pass motions in support of those needing to pass motions.
The Hitchhiker's guide recommends one thing, always crap on company time. Yes. Get shit done.
Oh, love a work poo.
Love a work poo.
The sweetest time theft.
There's lots of there's lots of origin stories that I tell about me being a writer and like learning to love to write like reading in cold blood, like a levels, or realizing that I've got like a head full of memories and like I've never expressed them and never really took any photographs and wanting to get them down.
But one of the real reasons why I started writing was because when I worked at compass, my friend would email me questions. Like why does Superman have stubble instead of a beard? When he turned evil in Superman two and two, which I would genuinely write two or 3000 words on the semiotics of facial hair during work time.
We have discussed this in a recent episode. Yes.
But it's violated and I will continue to stan for it.
Oh, completely. I just, I keep thinking about work posts and other forms of time theft.
I mean, There's a delightful pun at the heart of it. I don't want to explain your joke too much, but it's, even if you don't work in a job now where you need to have a poo to have a break, we've all got a lovely story about having a poo
Now you see gone. I would imagine obviously in, in terms of people working from home but even back in the day, you don't see so much of the fag break anymore. And obviously the, th the days of the smoking room are something that don't exist anymore. But
There is something to be said for having that excuse that valid reason to step away from your desk, that genuinely helps you to do stuff. I've never smoked, but there was one guy who we used to work with. He did smoke and I would actually call cigarette breaks because I knew we were blocked on something we were trying to solve and we would get up.
We would walk. We didn't go far. We'd walk down the corridor to the stairwell because it was those times where it's like, well, you're a stairwell, that's obviously a good place to smoke. That's the fire regress point. Should we smoke here? Yes.
But no we used to go for eight quote unquote smoke break, and it would just be to get us into a different space and to make us think differently so that we could so that we could go back and I saw my dad do it so many times where he'd be looking at a problem and then he'd just walk away. And in the act of rolling a cigarette, he'd solve it.
Yeah. It's it, you're occupying the conscious and letting the subconscious do its thing. And just let it tick away at something in the background. And it is that there's also the thing about conferences and it gives you this weird pretext. much anyway. The moments when you can be in a conference and you step out. And there's just a small group of people that there's something in that shared experience.
So the irony is a time and motion study would say that was wasted time wasted
You think that, but when Frank Taylor invented the idea of them he said ETCC noted on both manual, heavy manual tasks. And I think that the actual one he was using was basically shoveling coal. He noted that people who had breaks rest breaks were less tired and in the end, shoveled more coal and also on the sort of inspection jobs where people had to concentrate and stuff.
People who had breaks were able to make better decisions and get things right. It's just that he invented that. And then people went, I know, now what you've got here is it's more efficient to shovel that so we can get them to shovel that more. And And it can't eat either. It taking it to Amazon.
It cannot be the most efficient use of your workforce, not to allow them to go to the toilet. It simply can't. And if you want, if they were interested in making money, they're not, they're just interested in drawing dividing lines and enslaving people.
I was just going to put a pin in that not pop in, but blow that up a little bit and say like I've never smoked, and when I worked in the office that I also worked with someone never smoked. In retaliation at least once a week, rather than have lunch, we'd go to the local pub. And instead of having the 45 minutes, we'd have a good two hours lunch and come back. Very slightly pissed. And the only time I was ever, we were ever called on it, fair play to the person. And I won't name him cause he probably be embarrassed about doing it. But he said, we've never had a smoke break, and the supervisor did the maths in his head and went, yeah, that's fair to be fair like that. Like once a week longer lunch does not equal the amount of time lost for smoke breaks.
So Daniel you've written some words on the subject of the jobs.
Three things? Daniel, am I in trouble?
The second thing is I've got a good friend that is actually a quite well-known productivity author and is in my experience, one of the nicest people I know, and I want him to know, should he be listening? That I love him very much and I'm not entirely sure about productivity, but he believes it. So therefore it gets the stamp from me of approval because like I trust him.
So you've accidentally caught a job. I get it. You're sitting at a desk in a row of identical desks in an office floor. That is the same office floor stacked upon itself, 30 or 40 times. You're almost certainly hung over and somehow wearing a shirt that is simultaneously too long at the tendrils and too tight across your chair.
Stop. Read the large friendly words on the front of the book until you can breathe again. We've all been there. Whether shanghaied into service in the grimy space docs of crunches seven, working off the gambling debts accrued on the pleasure planet Vargas, or simply made a massive lapse in judgment when faced with the decision to either sell some of your more precious fluids or get a real job at some point, most hitchhikers end up in office.
By the way there is a virtual gas gambler to office employee pipeline set up by the nearest drone planet. 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, so boring they named it twice. This is when the chief suit of one to 4, 1, 2 4 realized it would be cheaper to hire bookies and sex workers to help visitors run up massive debts than pay headhunters and employment specialists.
A lot less sleazy to he's reported to us. Having now calmed down and accepted your lot. However, temporarily, what can you do about it? The answer of course is as little as possible. Not only is this a matter of personal comfort, but a moral obligation to the swashbuckling ideal, we hold. So dear at mega Dodo publications.
Here's how you do that. And this is a secret passed down through generations of hitchhikers, guard it with your life because if discovered the jig is up or in the case of the dancing offices of river flatly, the jig is about to start one word productivity.
But isn't the point of productivity to do more work we rhetorical here you say to which we say aha, but is it you're fundamentally looking at the problem wrong? The point of productivity is to do less. First thing you need to do is let your intelligence resources department know your home plan is religion is productivity. Productivity went from cult to fully fledged religion after one, particularly fruitful afternoon's work, thanks to a devastatingly persuasive mindmap presentation to the galaxies office of religion, sports and biscuits. I R will be delighted. Not only do they get to tick a diversity box on one of the many forms, they pass to each other, but also they'll be excited to have such an invested member of the team.
Now, as a member of a protected religion, it's against all sorts of codes, laws, guidelines, not to mention ethical boundaries, to force you to do things that clash with the core of your. If you can't remember which codes, laws, and guidelines, don't worry. Just make them up. Nobody checks, but this won't be an issue to begin with after all you're making your job more productive and by extension everybody's job easier, right? Nope.
The first job is to analyze the work. Don't be afraid of these vague terms, vague terms, and now your sword and shield and your new found lazy quest analyzing the workflow could take anything from an afternoon to three or four months, depending on how big a report you can bother to knock out on a Friday afternoon bullet points, some common sense suggestions every so often to guarantee that these will be all animal more read and. Nothing groundbreaking here. A mixture of hyper-focused and generally vague will work best. The nutria Matic drinks dispenser cups should be 25 mini quad Lutz, bigger or smaller. The meeting should be more vertical. The instruction of despair pods go wild. Be sure amongst them to include all reports should include a bullet point summary in your bullet points.
So. A decently worded email with these points can ensure the report is never opened in the first place. In fact, the larger the report, the more productive it would be to not actually read for those inclined. Are you getting it yet? But the proper mindset goofing off will be your main occupation. It's important to remember productivity is about doing less and achieving more. Luckily it's never specified what that more. At any point when your productivity guru status is threatened, a good chunk of time can be taken up with finding metrics that can be measured. And if you pick something that hasn't this far been measured, you can be out the door before any success or lack of it can be discovered footnote all the members of the productivity, religion call themselves gurus. It's one of the few organized religions where every member is a guru and non.
So it's productivity in MLM,
Cause everyone's got an upstream guru, right?
Everyone's got an upstream guru.
I think people that are involved in productivity would be very resistant to that, but it is a DOD in many cases, it is a dodge and I will go down and it, like in many cases is a dodge, in many cases, it's a mixture of common sense and new words and buzz phrases. And I think that the wheels of bureaucracy are greased by new words and buzz phrases, because anyone that feels as if they're being stagnant, won't make a good worker.
I think we like people that, that are involved in that particular machine have to fool themselves every so often into kind of into thinking that they are doing something different and exciting better
There's also a lot of stuff that gets lumped into what I think we call productivity. Cause there's the sort of inboxes they wrote that I was riffing on there's this that, getting things done is a methodology. There's a point that I was of lost it. Fuck. a third thing because the comedy broader threes. But no, I'm sorry. I haven't, I thought I had a point, but I've reached a
like we were saying earlier on for productivity purposes, just put in there, just put joke
on to the next thing. Yeah, it's fine.
productivity does mean a lot to different people. And I think the gurus will, I don't know it like there, there are people on there, the good side of this, and none of the bad side of this, there's also the whole thing of the fetish fetishization of productivity. Like some people will call bullet journaling productive, whereas it's actually one of the least productive things you could do because you're spending all your time making a book look pretty. And yes. you've got all these beautiful looking tick boxes of things that you're going to do when you cross them off from the day before and you write them in the next day. And you have a brief, beautifully hand ruled calendar where you write in all the diary entries for the day. It's do you know, what's quick if I'm doing all of that, like any notepad document, just any plain text document is quicker than all of that. It's not about the productivity. It's about being seen too. Yeah. It's not about doing any work. it's about being seen to be doing that kind of productivity.
What I genuinely love recently is the oldest studies and all the empirical evidence is 0.2. If you don't constantly monitor people, they'll do more work than. Than ever before, they'll do more work than if they were in the office. They'll do more work if like it's a four day week than if it's a five day week. If you leave people to do their own shit and they're in their own time and find their own fucking level, they tend to get more done Which I don't know. Maybe I should write a productivity book, which is I dunno, fucking, if it works for you, do it. If it works for you do it is the greater of a of a productivity
Genuinely is, and that is the best role for productivity because, and it shows like it will change as well. Sometimes it's like going back to your frog thing and that you a different frog on different days. And for some weeks I feel like I'm more productive with this particular task management system. On other days, I want to reorganize everything into something else. And part of the work of productivity is to actually not bad to those whims and just go, you know what? I can use the same task manager that I've used for the last three years, because the important thing is actually doing the work. This impulse is just about either procrastination or just the need to want to do anything different.
Like I did a podcast episode on, on ways to procrastinate. It is remarkable. The things that I can do. And I think anyone, any of us can do if you ever need me to reorganize my photo collection, just put any form of work in front of me that I actually need to do. And I will organize that some bitch, I will
Mark saying that like it's a bit, but like yesterday we were having a conversation and he said, oh, here's a photograph of me age eight in Florida.
better than that.
Wasn't yep. Yeah, it was a video. It was a, still from a video. I opened the video and took the still for you.
Yes. And he found that in about 27 seconds. So his productivity is very high. Danny, your book. That you've just pitched to me. As a major publisher on us and minor beta, I am going to commission it because here's how you write a book about productivity. Here's how you write a book about anything to do with modern business that will be placed in the top 10 section and the debate Smiths in the airport. When you get airside, what you do is you have a title that is something like this stop, cross, donating colon, find your inner frog, That shit that she title. And in the first four pages, you tell me exactly what you're going to do. And then you just repeat that in various ways for 250 pages
missing the bit you're missing that the crucial bit, which I think is actually a lot of the bulk of the first third of the book, which is you need to collate lots of examples of people that have done the same thing of people that you've spoken to. Yeah. And they should all, for some reason, be pastors apparently productivity and business books. When like just tell you about church leaders. Like they're really interested in about your, what you do in your local church. So if you can make sure that you make the book really Christian, you've cornered that market as well, because for some reason, love it when you talk about churches
So long as I, 100% know what the argument is by the fifth page. And I've got, I got the idea just riff off.
If you can get the idea of the book whilst you're still in Waterstones without the manager coming over to you and saying, sir, this is not a library, then you've written the book in the right way
so that, that, that fuck it. Do it in your own time kind of book that I would write, comes from what I'm learning is like an ADHD brain. And I don't know what comes first do I procrastinate because I know that I work best, like leaving it to the last minute and then pull in a hope hyper-focus and then doing fucking eight hours straight without going for a pee break or do I procrastinate because of my ADHD, and then at the last minute have to pull the eight hours of nonstop work. Because that's all my brain knows how to do? Like I know that I could do an all-nighter. I could work for pretty much solid 12 hours and knock something out. I like I've
help you sleep.
Does it help you sleep? If you're not? What
Oh, you've got a milk yourself before you start a good work, you've got to really milk yourself. So the no distraction, they're like, you
meal yourself before you built
Well, I've got to kill your
Yeah. You don't want to, you don't want to catch a glimpse of ankle while you're researching and just be veered off track.
Give it up that table leg. Madam, you got inflaming the order.
So yeah, maybe that's a chapter like really pound one out before you get stuck into a drink, a pint of milk,
productivity secrets of the unemployed. An Arco Cindy closed hippie
We danced around the idea of productivity as a religion. And I, my problem is I'm I'm definitely a sect in there. I'm a sectarian of some sort. I don't exactly know. I might float between a few different diocese or a few different interpretations. I'm not sure if I preach to sent Saint David Allen or to St. Marylyn man. I don't know, but I definitely know that I've got a few gods.
Was raised getting things done, but you know, I've, I've, I've moved from that.
Oh, I'm lapsed. I'm lapsed getting things done.
I liked the idea about sectarian violence in the productivity arena. I liked the fact that it's very costed and very
Yup. Yeah the violence.
let's budget for it.
at never kickoff had spent too much time. Plenty, as I say the whole point is that pro productivity methods are a form of
Yes. Oh no, not always. they? can be, they absolutely can be. And that is a trap you can fall into. And that is where that is. The, this, the sexy seductress. That is the siren call that is constantly luring you and you have to go. No, I will not listen to you. New app or new methodology. No, I've got to do the things and it's there go, no, if you do this, you will get so many hours back in your life and you will feel so much better. You will have a clearer mind. You don't know, I'm not reading your audio book.
But I think it's more insidious than that though. Because with procrastination, it's procrastination, you know, you know, falling down a youTube hole of the greatest muppets guest stars is wrong. I'm bad. But when you fall into a, like a getting things
or a productivity procrastination, you absolutely justifying it to yourself. It's like, well, this is working like that at the end of this, I'm going to be,
It's amazing how ahead of this? The the red dwarf boys were with reamers revision, timetables. Like they absolutely wrote the best gag about productivity vibe or for, I don't know what the word is. I'm looking for the productivity cult there. They absolutely wrote that like Rimmer was
Ruben was the guy who is self-improvement to the max, but he focuses too much on process and not an actually doing anything. And he was incredible and that's, it's a really good way to get into something that I really did want to actually make sure we buttoned before we leave for the night, think this is a bit of an elephant in the room that we haven't spoken about all night, which is our patients saying which is Douglas Adams a renowned procrastinator over knowns.
we actually don't know if it was to procrastinate. We just know new theater didn't deal very well with deadlines. That doesn't necessarily mean he procrastinated. He just might've been really slow.
a renowned person didn't deal with deadlines. So he's the he's the antithesis of a productivity guru and
Yeah. And I think given that the tech space, which he did enjoy is now so populated with productivity as a discourse. I thought it would be remiss of us to not speak to Douglas and think I think firstly, have we done him okay.
Tonight with our bits on this, have we skewered this in the way that he'd want us to, but also what would his take be on this on this culture to put, to do we reckon? And I turned us over to our
Yeah, I was going to say before I hand it over to John, I would just like to say, I would like to hope I would hope that we have in as much as we know enough about it to make the right kinds of jokes about it. And I think that's where things work really well. W when Douglas Adams had enough of an idea about tech and about robotics and computing in, even in the seventies, the incredible precedence of creating the Sirius cybernetics corporation, which would essentially be Microsoft 30 years before Microsoft became what they were shows that he, he had more than a passing knowledge. And so I would like to think that, yes, we've, hopefully we've done him. All right.
Gone that Mr. Bounds.
that was I wouldn't ever like to say that that all things that we do even go anywhere near touching the hem of of his garments. But the, what I was thinking about when John was saying that was the Douglas from what we know was always trying to think about solving his next problem. It'd be all right. If you just did this, which is the disease of the sort of the productivity procrastinator.
but also quite
sounds quite agile.
Yeah, this is true, but there's this,
all the time
I forget which I forget what I forget, which of his novels, but one of the novels he bought himself another day or so of writing by delivering from his Mac print, ready artwork straight to the printers because he was laying it out in his word processor and he could just export a PDF, to send it to the
that's a hack, isn't it?
is it? That is a
yeah. And Adam's hack
in the world where you need it. Literally a bloke doing like hot type stuff. that is a house.
And that would have been one. Yeah, it would have been one of the, it's probably not allowed even to this day, the unless you're doing it yourself, but yeah. The whole point about those, they seem stupid now don't they? Those book deadlines. So if you deliver a book for, I don't know, for example went down and I wrote a book, it was going through a proper publishing process, they agreed, they wanted the book, we'd finished the book, but they said no, deliver the book in August. And it was like February or something. And then when they delivered it, they, they asked about, but they could have had it, they could have had what we'd done like months earlier. And then when they finally had it to go, oh yeah, it'll come out next year at some point. And he said, okay, I know you're sending over to China to get it printed or whatever. But the, sometimes these processes are not built because they're the fastest they're built because they're the cheapest. And I think that's a lot of the time what productivity in a workplace setting is really about. They really don't care whether it's fastest, because if it was fastest, you could go to the pub. No, they want it cheapest.
Just in time. Isn't it.
Yeah when you uh, go and meet your maker, with Peter at the gateway. Be checking your productivity or what's the, or maybe you will, that's a sort of fucking parser think God's doing it.
No masters, John.
Jonathan. It looks like here, like that was a long per you had that day.
But I had to break it up with a stick, but also, yeah, it took a long time to do it.
th I think Adam's also commented on corporate culture. That was not the productivity thing there, but he commented a lot about corporate culture and the type of person that now would be obsessed with productivity. And I like, it was never favorable. Like the whole is speaks to that, it speaks to the type of person that would be, you know, lecturing people about getting things done,
I also think Colin Khalifa was basically writing airport books in a non-fiction section. So he could have been writing productivity maps.
he was right. Dumb books for people who think they're smart, which, you know? Yeah.
writing productivity manuals,
that God does not want you to know.
to build a world in seven days.
There's a very good example of doing that deliberately. There's the gate compute game. He's uncle bureaucracy, where the idea is that people will we are, you have to get a change of address card from your bank and there's a whole adventure. This is, and then that would have been instigated because banks had instigated processes, which were designed by people doing that sort of systemic scientific manufacturing process, design type stuff. And it's yeah, you can, I dunno, you could design the fuck about this, but essentially every human cog in the chain is attempting to do as little work as they can without being punished. And with that, mark, I'm going to stand out how you're going to edit this podcast, because if you don't and it's almost John stuff out, you, he will get punished. The, so there's a lot of work for you there.
The entire of Douglas Allen's writing career that I can know of, he railed against bureaucracy and top down bureaucracy. I think he wouldn't have liked getting things the productivity and getting things done stuff, because it is a bureaucracy that you give yourself. These extra processes and steps that that you put in the way of work in the name of doing more work.
And that just about wraps it up for the leopard. Thank you so much for listening to this season's episode. I guess seasons is in the, uh, You know, the, the earth based since. Uh, the irony is not lost on me, that this is an episode about productivity and my to do list tells me that the episode. Should be out by July. So that's July, 2021. So a sneaked snake.
Just just under the way there. We have got another episode.
Um, in the, in the works for this year. So, uh, we will have something around the sort of wintery Christmas-y time at two dinner. Whenever you so do stay subscribed. If you are already subscribed to the podcast, if you're not, uh, you can find out what that might mean and get new firstname.lastname@example.org, whatever podcast app you use. Uh, we've got links for, uh, for the show that you can also just search for beware of the leopard.
And, uh, now you can actually also search for a Hitchhiker's guide and we should arrive. We should appear. So. Yeah, well done me. I've only been a podcast producer for the last eight years. Um, thank you to Emma, right? Editorial girl, for being the voice of the guide. To donate John and to John and I'll speak. Sure let's call it very soon. Let's do that. Let's say we'll speak again soon. Take care of yourself. And above all other things, please, Sharon, enjoy.
he was the supervisor that never went on when everyone wanted to training days. Cause he got thrown off as well.
He was Michigan Jay frog.
Yay. Oh no, you've done it. You fucker. Oh fuck you. And you fucking knew that as well. Didn't you look busted. I'm going to think about that for fucking weeks now. Yeah.
Come on in my
what just happened. I don't know what happened.
There was a nice chat about frogs and nowadays cross. I don't know what
Brain does a thing. My brain does a thing and it thinks about
It's like the game.
My brain does the thing where it won't stop thinking about the thing. Like once the thing is fucking mentioned, it won't stop thinking about it. And that frog is the worst thing that occupies my brain because it just doesn't. How long am I, baby? How long? How long am I like time? Fuck. Every single time. Like I'm swinging a cane around now. Like I've have been like, just cause of nervous habit, but now I can't, because it's much again from the fucking doctor.
I don't know what's going on anymore.
it was it was we discussed in the episode of our podcast that was featured on BBC radio four's podcast, our uh, podcast radio
John H do you remember there's a frog and Warner brothers and there's maybe two cartoons of it may be three and it's a frog
they buried it in the Simpsons as well. You'll know it, it's a, it's a
dancing frog in a top hat.
that performs to one man. And then whenever he tries to show people, it doesn't, and that's the joke. Like my brain won't stop thinking about that until it forgets about it. I think there's something about that fucking air worm as well. Like how am I you? How long ago? Holy hell am I right now? Like my brain just latches onto that and goes, you're going to think about that for about a month. you're ready. And so when.
This is the basis of the thing in WordPress called hello, Dolly, right?
no. Hello. Dottie's from a musical.
Oh, I thought that was the same thing.
I think it's a different thing.
It's that. And Carrie, and now I'm going to think about Carrie for a, for at least a year. But like everything about the film, Carrie, but
I'm sorry, we
This is the problem is you, can you express the moment of weakness? You let us in you exposed to chink in your armor and we used against you. There are things that in my brain the do the same thing. Uh, but I'm not gonna tell you about them.