In these times of economic hardship, many Americans feel the need to step up their productivity level. After all, it seems like our jobs, homes and collective sanity are fading faster every day. Jerry Stahl, author of "Permanent Midnight," "I, Fatty" and the new novel "Pain Killers" wants you to know that the sanity part is overrated. He recently offered up the following advice for staying productive.

Unemployment: Hotbed of Productivity

I know, from firsthand research, that unemployment keeps you much busier than employment. This stems from fear that, once you sit down, there will never be reason to get up again that involves an exchange of currency. But lately, as it has for so many Americans, multitasking has metastasized to multi-jobbing, on up to the ladder to multi-stressing. It's all part of being productive -- America's new national pastime.

But enough chit-chat. If, in the time it took to read the last paragraph, you didn't stop once to check the global market, then you're probably Productivity Challenged and need to read the rest with extra-focused attention. If you need Adderall, take it now. We'll wait.

Now that you've had your helpful pills, click here to get the rest of Stahl's productivity tips.

Thank You, But I Have No Life
The eternal question: Do I have no life because I work all the time, or do I work all the time because I have no life? But who cares about the eternal answer? What's important is that you, the 21st-Century Uber-Productive Man, abolish all manner of non-productivity-enhancing distraction. That means relationships, family, friends. Oh, it's okay to have them. You just can't spend any time with them. You can only explain that, in order for you to stay above water, you need to spend all your time swimming. We're all swimming the Channel, and they keep moving the shore.

Multitasking
If you can't multitask, you die. When you do multitask, it's important to remember the right tasks to multi up on. Task-combining stands out as the distant, non-nutritional cousin of food-combining. Thus, working a chainsaw while dodging robo-dialed collection agencies and creating an anthology of Toxic Asset Haiku may be the wrong batch of activities to do all at once. On the other hand, if you only have an hour before going back to work as trend-spotter and crossing guard, have at it.

The Post-Sleep Era
Thanks to technology, downtime has become as rare and reprehensible as bus-station analingus. Not that the latter ever constituted a plague, but there used to be plenty of NWM (Non-Work Minutes) in the course of the average American day. Now, the very idea of a non-productive moment exists as some kind of existential stain. This is why, to really keep on top of the NLE (the Nothing Left Economy), it's important to worry even while unconscious. The effect, in my experience, is not unlike passing out on crystal meth. It's a kind of sleep, but so jangled and non-REM that the general effect, when you wake, is of having run up and down the Washington Monument in pudding-caked muk-luks, while smoking a carton of Chesterfields. (Like all emerging fields, Productivity Studies generates its own batch of lingo and acronyms, and I would ask the reader's indulgence in marching out so much "Prod-Speak.")

Make Friends With Your Angst
The art of keeping up with obligation is being able to simultaneously eat your arms over 11 different projects. And this is just as true in the high-powered world of pajama-blogging and phone sales as it is on the rough-and-tumble killing floor of Arts and Letters or RV repo. Not figuring how you're going to do the job, not starting it yet, not knowing what to do after you start it, and the all-cylinders-firing finale of angst -- how to end the f**king thing. All of which only leads you to the next arm-chewer: What am I going to do next?

Nutrition
Even if you have a kitchen or dining-room table, it's important, for productivity's sake, that you only eat food over your computer. This practice has benefits on two levels. One, you never have to stop working to meet your caloric intake. Two, should you ever -- despite your full-bore productivity -- go completely broke, you can simply excavate remnants of last month's meals from your keyboard, put them in a microwave and serve them up as a kind of Motherboard Casserole. Cookbooks are being written even as we speak. Everybody needs to eat. But nobody needs to stop working. Ever. Not for a minute. Ooops! (Even as I write this, I'm dripping Ramen noodles on my Caps Lock.)

Stay Focused
It doesn't matter what field you work in. Or no longer work in. Or dimly remember working in. What's important is that you produce. Stay in the game. Keep propping up your corner of the sagging economy. It might not make you happy, but happiness is just a little '08 for the Producto Zeitgeist. But then, so is unhappiness. It doesn't matter now. All work and no play pay Jack's mortgage. If he still has a mortgage. If he doesn't, of course, he needs to get busy. When the going gets tough, the tough get productive. (If only to forget how tough the going is.)

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