Stop Focusing on Being Productive

February 4, 2022

Book Review by Taylor Berrett

Unlearn Habits that Lead to Stress and Burnout

Productivity, productivity, productivity. It seems that every new book in the self-help category is centered around boosting productivity, removing distraction, tripling output, and becoming a nonstop machine of pure flow. The idea seems to be that if we can just be productive enough, focused enough, and hustle enough, we can accomplish anything. After all, isn’t that what all the world’s most successful people have done? Worked and worked until they made it to the promised land?

In his new book, Productivity is for Robots, author Corey McComb turns this idea of relentless productivity on its head. The book is dedicated to anyone who’s felt ‘overwhelmed or discouraged by what it means to be productive,’ and is meant to provide a roadmap for unlearning the ‘hustle and grind’ mindset that he claims only leads to stress, burnout, and lack of creativity.

His evidence is compelling. In his book, McComb explores how creatives from Ernest Hemingway and James Cameron to Teddy Roosevelt, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Martin have created their best work not by being productivity robots, but by embracing the ways that human nature inspires us. He calls for an emphasis not on hustle but on developing intuition, cultivating self-awareness, and tapping into creative flow. He considers it a ‘call to reclaim what it means to be human in the new world.’

Don’t Do More, Do Better

“Productivity without purpose is an arrow without a target,” McComb says. “It’s time to double down on what sets us apart from technology. It’s time to leave the hustle and grind to machines and remember what it means to be human. It’s time to confirm once and for all: I’m not a robot.”

Corey McComb’s message is refreshing, especially amidst the constant professional calls to do more, accomplish more, and work more. He also brings a unique approach to self-help writing that isn’t found in many other books of this type. His background as a creative himself (he spent several years as a touring musician) means that he often takes an unconventional path to making his point— often to impressive effect. He incorporates not only research and anecdotes but also stories and poetic language to not only access the minds of readers but their hearts, too. The result is a book that’s as much a tribute to the beauty of human creativity as it is a manual for less machine-like work habits.

The Bottom Line

Productivity is for Robots is an impressive book that’s loaded with insights that are as fascinating as they are actionable. The best part? McComb’s book may actually make you more productive, by helping you clear out the clutter and focus on the aspects of your life and career that are most meaningful. That’s a lesson we could all benefit from learning in this day and age, when our value tends to be measured by how much we create rather than the quality of what we have to offer.


Taylor Berrett

Taylor Berrett is a Contributing Writer at Soundview. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and host of the podcast Alone in a Room. His other book reviews can be found here.