As another year ends and a new one begins, there is one thing I want to see less of in 2022. YouTube productivity videos.
After being suckered into an infinite loop of productivity videos that just waste time rather than actually do as they claim to do, increase productivity, I have come to the conclusion that ProductivityTube is a space full of toxic productivity and ‘Bros’ telling us how great they are and how lousy we are.
The Gender Divide
Made largely by male creators, productivity YouTube, isn’t so much about enabling others to be more productive in their working lives, as more of a chance to show off to others their latest piece of tech, the amount of money they are making, or just how great their life is and how rubbish ours is. It’s all about flexing on others and telling us just how productive they are in their hustle and how useless we are because we can never be them. It is demanded that we take them seriously and that their levels of productivity are more important than that of a woman and every other lesser mortal on the planet.
Female creator led ProductivityTube comes in a different guise, it is all about the ‘aesthetics’, it has to have the right look in order to be productive and that look is clean, white rooms with pink and mint green accents, punctuated with photos of their young high school/university friends in various silly poses taken on ‘retro’ Polaroid camera without any hint of irony. The background music is usually some LoFi beat from a copyright-free source because god forbid the musician should be paid fairly for their labours, which adds to a whimsical vibe about the whole production. The problem is, productivity itself isn’t to be taken seriously if you are a woman, it simply becomes a by-product of an attempt to sell an aesthetic and gain followers.
Remember, productivity is the domain of the man and as such is has to be dark and moody. Light and bright do not make a productivity guru, if something productive happens well that is just lucky because it could never possibly be by design.
Consider the Notion…
Not to name names, but a quick YouTube search will soon locate these creators, their videos will be headlined with eye-catching titles like: “Best wireless keyboard for productivity in 2022”, “BUILDING A ROUTINE: Increase Productivity & Creating Healthy Habits”, “My minimalist desk set up for 2022” or “My Complete Notion Setup 2021”. Top tip, there will be a lot of productivity YouTubers promoting the app Notion and lauding its greatness, yes nine times out of ten those creators are being paid to advertise Notion so of course, they will be telling us how great it is.
But whatever the subject of the video within the productivity genre one thing will always be evident. WE AREN’T BEING PRODUCTIVE ENOUGH. Unless we are productive 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and always on the hustle, we aren’t productive enough for productivity YouTube, and if our productivity isn’t on expensive Apple gear, then it is the wrong kind of productivity. Yes, to be productive to productivity YouTubers it can only be done with a high-end MacBook Pro, iPad Pro (with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil of course), an expensive extra widescreen monitor, an overpriced mechanical keyboard, and in a ‘spare room’ the size of some people’s apartments.
Yeah, fellas’, some of us make do with a mid-range Windows laptop, reporter’s notebook, HB pencil, and a corner in the dining room and have done so perfectly well for the past two years thank you very much!
Productivity YouTube sets us all up for failure, it relies on the assumption that everyone meets the same standards as they do. It does not account for people’s differing circumstances, financial stability, parental status, mental health, learning disabilities, etc, etc. It is white, predominately male, and middle class.
Failure is guaranteed.
And that is the problem with productivity YouTube, it has become toxic. Expectations of what productivity really is are set so high, that unless you are a productivity creator and have a bag full of cash for productivity YouTuber starter kit (see above!), you can never actually meet the standard being set and you will always deem yourself to be a failure.
Productivity is a very subjective thing, what is highly productive to one person isn’t to another and again Productivity YouTube does not account for this, only their kind of productivity is valid. To set that expectation of ourselves is to set ourselves up for failure. We cannot be productive all of the time and it isn’t healthy to be constantly productive, sometimes our mental health needs a break. Sometimes just doing nothing is the most productive thing we can do in the name of self-care. Hell even sitting in front of the TV and watching rubbish reality shows can be healthy if it’s used as a means to unwind from a long day in the office.
The toxic productivity of Productivity YouTube needs to come to an end and 2022 needs to be the year it happens especially if we are to gain something positive out of the whole pandemic and if I don’t see another productivity video cross my YouTube timeline while I’m trying to procrastinate from my actual work then I’ll be happy.