Methods & System Personal Well-being Productivity

Why can’t you be productive all the time? How to be optimally productive.

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This article is a part of Series: Productivity System - Myths and Mistakes

You don’t have to be productive all the time. Aware of your productivity cycle of Ups and Downs.

Keeping your productivity metrics always up is also another form of being monotonous in disguise. It is an easy way to get stressed. Eventually, you’re going to wear fully out of your willpower. Losing interest in an area is one thing, losing the “mood” to work (to create) is whole another thing.

In my personal experience, productivity is like a short streak, like a wave. It comes and goes. I assume it is the same for every other unless you’re God or lying to yourself.

Pushing hard and working hard is a nice strategy that pays only for non-creative jobs. I think pushing harder always leads to the opposite result as most of the energy is spent on moving against nature (of slowing down) rather than for creative work.

For me creating something is the actual work. Other things are just preparing, presenting, and packing what you created. Those tasks are secondary work.

If you know Pareto Principle, 20% of your original creative work will definitely contribute to 80% of your outcome. Read this later -> Pareto Hack – Rule of thumb for greatest personal productivity

You’re not going to be in the mood of creating all the time. Because it is unnatural. Will-power is limited, your dopamine supply is limited. Even if you try to become ideal, the world is not ideal and you are not a superhuman too.

Let the wave (mood to create) crash. Let it rise again. Let it be natural. Learn to harness the tide of productive flow instead of forcing it to be always high. (I assume you already know about the “flow” state of mind.)

Flow can’t be achieved through willpower but through imagination and a relaxed mental state. Forcing the flow is working against the flow. It is just a waste of your energy.

Some people work better when they are threatened by a “Panic Monster” (If you don’t know what Panic monster is, then Read this article by Tim Urban). Some work better under the stressed situation. Some create the best piece when they work long without sleeping, some by fasting for a day. Some get the flow of creativity after a walk. Some after relaxed meditation.

Whichever works for you, use it. Use it to prolong your flow state of being productive. Ride the tide. Remember it will go down to zero, sometimes negative (burnouts). You have to let it go and wait for the next high tide.

If the wave crashes or flows low, do the unimportant, peripheral, or easy tasks in your list (that remaining 80% of work contributes to 20% of your outcome). Just wait for the next wave of productivity streak. You will know it by your feeling when it is about to come.

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