At every stage in a man's life, there are certain hard-to-achieve goals that shimmer on the horizon like a highway mirage on a hot summer day. At the age of 13, it's the promotion of calling a friend who is a girl a "girlfriend," a person who makes worthwhile your father's wrath when he sees the phone bill at the end of the month. At 20, it's a body shape. Gyms are joined (and left unattended), whey protein is consumed and eggs are swallowed whole, all in a futile attempt to convince the torso to outrace the abdomen in its movement outward. At 24, on taking up a job and joining the perennially honking traffic at the Race of the Cubicular Rodents, a new goal appears, the goal of increased productivity. The goal of achieving goals faster than before. A meta goal.
At 13, one's dorkiness gets in the way of being a bon-vivant chick magnet. At 20, it's a combination of diet and a lack of girlfriends that gets in the way of a six pack. But in professional life, despite the innumerable distractions of adult life, there is the Internet, the goddess of human productivity. In fact, the Internet has made me so productive that I even researched the topic of productivity online.
I Googled for “How to be more productive” and clicked on one of the links that immediately whisked me away to a blog that, apart from cutting edge productivity tips, displayed the most endearing picture gallery of cats dressed up as "Star Wars" characters. On clicking those, a pop-up informed me of my criminal negligence in not subscribing to a productivity newsletter that promised to change my life practically at a genetic level. The subscription process demanded my mobile phone number, home address and the nickname of my dog. Soon enough, I received several useful SMS-es selling “Productivity Apartments” on Old Mahabalipuram road and I even spent some quality time with a friendly telemarketer who tried to interest me in the latest model 3G mobile Internet USB device.
Not to be deterred, I quickly learnt some Zen meditation skills from a Youtube video by a user named Zenmaster_g_6055 and did a Google search for “How to search for how to be more productive on the Internet” and that didn't quite get me anywhere. Perhaps the good-natured search algorithm at Mountain View thought I was interested in Internet productivity, which I clearly wasn't. So I tried rephrasing the query to “How to do an Internet search for how to be more productive, not on the Internet, but in general life” but that threw up search results for the Dictionary definition of “escapism” and a health condition named “Cyberchondria” or Internet-induced health anxiety.
I then decided to take a break and refresh myself from the brain-fatiguing exercise of searching for stuff online. I opened my Facebook page. I noticed that a collegemate had recently purchased a late-model German-make luxury sedan. I closed that window immediately and decided to see what Chetan Bhagat had tweeted recently so that I could impress my friends with my snarky responses to him.
And that was when I learnt that my deputy editor at The Hindu had dispatched a sniper to persuade me to finish this column on time. So I stopped browsing and wrote this up. That's how the Internet makes me productive, by constantly inducing that most productive phase in a man's life. Last-minute panic.