2017 · Life: Mind Palace · Life: The Freelancer Lifestyle

On subjective productivity

Productivity is one of those things that is both incredibly subjective and at least theoretically quantifiable. You can see the result of your work, but whether that’s a satisfying amount or not is entirely up to your own experience and expectations. I had a conversation with my boyfriend last night about how I got some things done during the day, but that I felt like I could’ve done more. He countered it with how what I did was exactly how much I could do, because the result is evidence of ability. For me, a person who absolutely defines my self worth by how hard I can work, that’s not very satisfying but it still brought up an interesting point. What is productivity? Is it more important to accomplish a larger number of tasks, or that you’re satisfied with what you did do regardless of if it met the goal or not?

I think this is one of those things that each person has to make up their mind about on their own, so I can only really speak for my own experiences. Productivity is important to me in perhaps not so healthy ways, and although I have days where I feel satisfied with what I’ve done and might even call it a day a little early, I usually feel like I could do more if I just made more of an effort. It’s more about being fast than not taking breaks, or at least that’s what it’s grown into as I’ve grown older and more tired. I want to be effective and streamline my to-do list so that it’s optimally matched for how my day looks — if I can knock these things out today, it’s okay if I don’t get as much done tomorrow. Aiming high and not reaching all the way there is a much better system for me than having a realistic or even skinny list for my day. Right now I have 25 things to get through today and there’s no way I’ll actually accomplish it, but tomorrow that number will have gone down and that’s incentive enough.

Perhaps this is also tied in to how I work as a person. I’m better at having a lot of things to get through, especially if I have a deadline coming up. Not having the pressure of expectations looming over me means I do nothing at all instead, as I have in the past couple of weeks. I need the push, the drive, the hounds sniffing at my heels for me to actually get shit done. Some people don’t care so much about productivity, it seems, where others are self-motivating on an even level, doing roughly the same amount of work day to day and then taking a healthy amount of time off. Me, I work really hard in burst and then do nothing on the days where I’m not under pressure. On one hand this is pretty good, I’ve never missed a deadline. On the other, I have less control of my time and during the lull periods I don’t really have it in me to get ahead of schedule.

It’s a complex question, safe to say. How do you feel about productivity? Does answering emails or doing the dishes count towards your daily work satisfaction, or will only the heavy stuff do?

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