This image is a poster produced by the Mather Corporation in the 1920s. I came across it in a pre-auction exhibition at the Swann Galleries in NYC. How I would love to have this poster up in my office, or some I have worked in in years past. So different from the New-Agey garbage we see everywhere – soaring eagles, cute animals, wave rings on the surface of a pond – one person makes a difference! – every moment counts!
No, this stuff is pretty down and dirty – to the point. Be productive, WORK, don’t waste time. These images were on factory floors and in offices. Work Incentive Posters is the general name.
It seems corny now, but that’s because we have just gotten more sophisticated in our efforts to manage our time and those around us. Rising education levels, more wealth, more sophisticated work, general exposure to propaganda everywhere: a more subtle approach is called for. That is, if you’re not on the shop floor of a sweatshop where the only incentive needed is the desire not to loose your job.
The entire notion of time management repels me. I have no interest in being efficient and managing my time well. My attitude towards work is that it is how I live, as my ancestors may have gathered berries or tilled the soil, I hack a keyboard. Am I decadent? Alienated? A parasite? I wish I felt differently more of the time. At least while I’m at my desk.
And who says we have time to manage? What a way to view one’s life, as a series of moments to be managed in a work schedule, a daybook, a filofax…