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Happy Labor Day, Knowledge Worker – The Practice of Personal Productivity

Today we celebrate Labor Day in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, Labor Day is not just the symbolic end of summer, the start of football season, or the last day it is fashionable to wear white. Labor Day is a day created by the labor movement and dedicated to the economic and social achievements of American workers. We honor those that labor – the factory worker, the construction worker, the nurse, the supermarket bagger, the electrician, and many more who work with their hands and make everyone’s life a little bit better.

via Alexander Kjerulf

Knowledge worker, technically this day is not for us.

Unlike someone who labors, we rely on knowledge rather than physical labor in the workplace. We have a salary and likely have the opportunity to earn a much higher wage over time. We probably have a number of perks as part of our job.

Times are changing, though. Politics aside, over the last few decades, a number of forces are eroding the quality of life of a knowledge worker – the recession, rising costs, globalization, consumerism, and mobile technology. We are working longer hours, have increased responsibility from jobs that have been shed, have lost separation between work and personal life, struggle to keep up with rapid technological advances, have stress-induced conditions and illnesses, and attempt to demonstrate “value” in order to keep our jobs so that we can continue to consume things in a vain attempt to create identity.

Interestingly, the knowledge worker does not benefit from some of the reforms obtained by the labor movement.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not here to advocate the unionization of all knowledge workers nor compare the plight of the knowledge worker with the abuses and working conditions experienced by American workers in the late 1800s. I am here, however, to help others avoid a meltdown and keep pace with today’s expectations for effectiveness and productivity.

Over the next series of posts, I am going to share with you my system for getting things done influenced by lean manufacturing processes, agile development practices, and the work of David Allen. Before we jump into the actual mechanics, in the next post we will take a look at the philosophy and principles of productivity.

As always, I look forward to your comments, feedback, and interaction during this series.

In Productivity (Agile, David Allen, Knowledge Worker, Labor Day, Lean, Practice Productivity)
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