Productivity is really a much lovelier word than we tend to realize.

I think about it when I’m making lots of things—when a number of projects are all cooking at the same time. Then it’s creative, gratifying, infinitely challenging and magical. More than simply making stuff, it expands into the joy of making stuff.

Just like productivity, cherries are gratifying and magical

The Maker movement arises from this joy. So does the current reinvigoration of craft enthusiasts, fed by new print/manufacture-on-demand technologies.

To my mind, the word has been repeatedly co-opted by less-enlightened schools and businesses, causing it to dry up and shrivel into a dull and leaden mass of obligation and duty. Some would argue that schools do this because they’ve been co-opted by those less-enlightened businesses.

I want to take this word back. I want to disentangle it from the idea of productivity as mere commodity.

When we begin to think of productivity as a commodity, we give more of our attention to the returns on our investments of time and resources. Efficiency (another beautiful word I’d like to rescue) becomes devoid of its potential elegance. We begin to judge individuals, groups or entire cultures as being worthy or worthless. We strip it of its magic and its power.

To be Productive, according to the first two definitions listed in, is to express power, creativity and abundant fertility. Its synonyms are fecund, fertile and prolific, to name a few.

Granted, there are those times, places and gifted individuals that spur at least as much joy in simply being. But today, let’s celebrate the doers.

Flowers spring to blossom where she walks
The careful ways of duty;
Our hard, stiff lines of life with her
Are flowing curves of beauty.

From Among the Hills, by John Greenleaf Whittier

Citations/attributions:, “productive,” in Unabridged. Source location: Random House, Inc. Accessed: June 02, 2013. | Cherries photo by Ana C. Golpe: Click the image to see the original.

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