September 2, 2019

Productivity Anti-Advice

I think I’m quite productive, but I often do the opposite of conventional’ productivity advice. Some examples:

  • I tend to do small, unimportant tasks first so that I can focus on important stuff without distraction (whereas common advice is to do the big important stuff first)
  • I don’t do pomodoros or time-blocking
  • I often multi-task
  • I check emails frequently
  • I don’t have a regular sleep or work schedule, and I suck at routines
  • I leave things to the last minute
  • I do deep work’ late at night rather than first thing in the morning
  • I don’t block distracting’ websites

I’m not sure whether I would be more productive if I successfully implemented the conventional wisdom, but I’ve tried in the past and it has never really stuck. I wonder whether the types of people who become productivity advisors also tend to be the kind of people for whom the conventional advice works well, and whether there are other types of people who are equally productive but less likely to evangelize their approach.

I think my problem with a lot of the conventional advice is that it often seems to be aimed at getting you to do something that you don’t feel like doing, whereas I seem to be more effective when I work with my motivation system rather than against it. If I’m getting distracted by small tasks, it’s better that I do them and get them out of the way, because then I feel much less aversion to doing the important stuff. And when a deadline is far away it feel actively unpleasant to work on it, but when it’s close my motivation system actually starts to want to work on it.