I think of this article about productivity and standards of living in the same train of thought that my best of post, even though I certainly didn't write it myself. The basic idea is that given our current levels of productivity we could have a 1948 standard of living by working only half of what we work now. The comparison between productivity and standards of living is, I think an interesting and useful way to think about work, and creative output. I've written from time to time on the subject of making a living from/while being an artist, and I think I keep returning to that essay because it connects with something similar in my mind.
While the productivity vs. standards of living comparison leads rather neatly into an anti-modern "living more simply" conclusion, I'm hesitant to subscribe quickly to a conclusion that seems so naive. Quite often the "living more simply," (which includes organics, "green"/sustainable production, and so forth) would seem to require a certain amount of wealth to be able to sustain, and takes a very micro-scale solution to a macro-scale problem.
At the same time I can respect the pleasure of living a more simple life--and certainly the way my digital life continues to develop has been along a path of greater simplicity--and I expect that as I continue to sort out my "lifestyle," for the near future thinking about the differences between "needs" and "wants." I don't think living more simply, or being more conscious of excess is the same thing as living minimally, or practicing self-sacrifice in the name of some greater good.
At least for me, the discussion of "being effective," at the things that really matter to me (writing this blog, being a good friend, writing better fiction, being a productive employee, dancing, knitting, and so forth), is intertwined with thinking about my professional life and career--and issues of productivity there--and is intertwined with an evaluation of material needs. It's very much a holistic effort, and I think thinking about all these things together can help us be more effective and derive more pleasure from the things that we do. I think this is the case for me.
Have a good weekend, and I look forward in seeing if you have anything to add here.
Onward and Upward!