It sometimes seems to me that personal productivity is a rather elegant bell curve, with age on the ‘x’ axis and effectiveness on the ‘y’.

When we’re young, we’re learning how to do stuff. It takes us an age, the stuff that we take for granted and do on autopilot when we’ve got a couple of decades at it under our belt. Then, as we get older, we seem to lose some of our faculties and get slower. We can compensate for the lack of mobility and strength with experience and an agile mind, but as we get much older the routine stuff – involving major and minor motor skills – is like that of a pre-adolescent.

While I realise the concept of the circle of life is nothing new, it nonetheless amazes me how much we can get through between the ages of 16 and 60, compared to the relative plodding progress either side of that range. We have experience, expertise and energy. I for one, given the financial turmoil of the last decade, hope that my productivity doesn’t dip until I’m well past retirement age. Either that or I need to have found an income source that requires cerebral heavy lifting rather than the literal variety. This seems much more scalable, since if it’s something like books or software I’m producing, I can sell additional units at next to no extra cost.

Perhaps we’re missing a societal trick with this ageism lark. Maybe, as our energy levels decline but our marbles remain intact, we should simply move to a different type of work and productivity, rather than simply succumb to the stigma of the three score years and ten. This move would need to be at a community level, not an individual one. After all, the generation retiring now is literate, and probably computer literate at that.

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