Maneesh Sethi is a self-employed blogger based in San Francisco, California. As many people that use the internet, Sethi often gets distracted from his work by things like Facebook, YouTube, etc. In fact, Sethi felt he was so often distracted that he started using time tracker tools to measure his productivity… which came in at 38%, largely due to him wasting time on YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit. Sethi decided to do something about it.
Sethi posted an ad on Craiglist looking for someone for $8/hour to “yell or slap” him whenever he “wasted time”:
I’m looking for someone who can work next to me at a defined location (my house or a mission cafe) and will make sure to watch what is happening on my screen. When I am wasting time, you’ll have to yell at me or if need be, slap me.
You can do your own work at the same time. Looking for help asap, in mission, near 16th mission BART.
Compensation: $8 / hour, and you can do your own work from your computer at the same time.
After getting dozens of responses, Sethi hired a woman by the name of Kara for a three-hour shift. After the three hours, Sethi checked his productivity and saw it increase from 38% to 98%.
Moral of the story?
Violence works. Not what you may expect. According to Sethi, the slapping is not what helped increase his productivity — having someone to bounce ideas off of is:
If you add a social element to the work that you do, you will become more productive. Honestly, the fear of the slap wasn’t the productivity driver. That just made it fun. The real reason why Kara made me more productive is because she added a social element to writing. When I was drafting the outline, I asked for her feedback. When I couldn’t think of the right way to phrase a sentence, she was there to help.
With that logic I suppose Sethi’s 38% productivity wasn’t because he was distracted but rather because he looked for distractions when he came upon mental roadblocks. Or maybe this whole “experiment” is simply a marketing tool to gain Sethi exposure on the cheap and everything he has said is a lie. Who knows.