Time Management in the Knowledge Economy

Book Pages: 216 Illustrations: 16 illustrations Published: November 2018

Author: Melissa Gregg

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Sociology

As online distractions increasingly colonize our time, why has productivity become such a vital demonstration of personal and professional competence? When corporate profits are soaring but worker salaries remain stagnant, how does technology exacerbate the demand for ever greater productivity? In Counterproductive Melissa Gregg explores how productivity emerged as a way of thinking about job performance at the turn of the last century and why it remains prominent in the different work worlds of today. Examining historical and archival material alongside popular self-help genres—from housekeeping manuals to bootstrapping business gurus, and the growing interest in productivity and mindfulness software—Gregg shows how a focus on productivity isolates workers from one another and erases their collective efforts to define work limits. Questioning our faith in productivity as the ultimate measure of success, Gregg's novel analysis conveys the futility, pointlessness, and danger of seeking time management as a salve for the always-on workplace.


"Gregg . . . places the genre [of self-help] in a rich social and historical context." — Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

"Counterproductive trains its lens on the productivity self-help genre itself, posing the question 'How does this insatiable industry for productivity continue trading on essentially unchanging insights?' Gregg . . . sees the glut of such books as a symptom of deeper problems with the organization of modern work. . . . Best for: Self-help burnouts." — Caitlin Harrington, Wired

"Reading [Counterproductive] caused me to have the biggest writing-related epiphany I’ve ever had." — Theresa MacPhail, Chronicle of Higher Education

"Gregg has written a book that will change the way people look at the notion of time management. . . . Essential. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, researchers, faculty, and professionals." — M. J. Safferstone, Choice

"Gregg’s analysis provides productive insights in the ways that productivity has framed the work narrative, at times in less than beneficial ways. This book is appropriate for the general public, sociologists, business professionals, freelance workers, and librarians, concerned with the understanding the unhealthy impact that the focus on time management and productivity may have on the workplace and their own lives." — Clem Guthro, Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy

"A smart, fascinating analysis of the theory, practice, and anthropotechnics within the knowledge economy, a business sector whose productivity can be defined by its intellectual capital as opposed to its production." — Julia Scatliff O'Grady, Journal of Cultural Economy

"Counterproductive is an ambitious, historically informed account of how . . . productivity and time management aids came to be embraced and promulgated by the professional-managerial class." — Raymond June, EPIC

Counterproductive covers much new ground and offers insights on the genre of time-management-advice literature. It also serves as a poignant reminder of the paradoxes of today’s interconnected world, where our working selves have never been more connected and more isolated at the same time.” — Kumud Bhansali, Anthropology of Work Review

Counterproductive is a must-read for everyone interested in the sociology of work, especially for those investigating the development of digital tools and their impact on workers’ lives.” — Anna Maria Ozimek, Information, Communication, & Society

“Revealing the relationship between productivity techniques, on the one hand, and the isolation experienced by modern workers on the other, Melissa Gregg helps us better understand the neoliberal workplace. A timely, innovative, and compelling work, Counterproductive will be met with great enthusiasm by a broadly interdisciplinary group of readers in sociology, political theory, cultural studies, women's and gender studies, and critical management studies.” — Kathi Weeks, author of The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries

“This important genealogy of contemporary productivity practices takes us from the efficiency techniques of early factories to the time management systems of the postindustrial workplace to the productivity and ‘mindfulness’ apps that today's professionals employ—in an ambivalent mix of athletic striving and anxious hedging—to regulate themselves at and beyond the office. While some critics of the productivity economy are content to diagnose and naysay, Melissa Gregg challenges us to recuperate the potential for a less solipsistic, more equitable temporal orientation in the way that we live and work.” — Natasha Dow Schüll, author of Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas


Availability: In stock
Price: $24.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Melissa Gregg is Principal Engineer and Research Director, Client Computing Group, Intel; coeditor of The Affect Theory Reader, also published by Duke University Press; and author of Work's Intimacy.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  ix
I. Theory
Introduction: The Productivity Imperative  3
1. A Brief History of Time Management  22
II. Practice
2. Executive Athleticism: Time Management and the Quest for Organization  53
3. The Aesthetics of Activity: Productivity and the Order of Things  78
III. Anthropotechnics
4. Mindful Labor  103
Conclusion: From Careers to Atmospheres  127
Postscript: A Belated Processing  141
Acknowledgments  143
Notes  147
Bibliography  179
Index  191
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0090-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0071-6
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