“Productivity is very non-linear” : a mantra I try to remember when I feel like I’m not getting enough done.
Indeed, I often find myself doing a lot in bursts, punctuated by comparatively average productivity. These troughs of average-ness can make me feel unproductive and inadequate at times. From what I can tell, this is a common sentiment amongst grad students, runners, and others like me who identify with both categories.
I think both cases are the result of an Overton-Window effect, perpetuated and worsened by non-linear productivity. The productive times are so great, that they make the average ones pale in comparison. Average no longer seems good enough, now that you have knowledge that higher productivity is attainable. However, average is more manageable, long term.
It’s not a marathon, not a sprint!!
Knowing that I can be more productive and fit more into my day doesn’t mean I should. My dad always says,”you can’t fit ten pounds of s#!t in a nine pound bag!”
This is what happens when I try to do it anyways:
He’s right. The shift in the Window is right. And trying to do too much too quickly is frequently wrong.
Non-linear productivity isn’t inherently bad- it’s great sometimes! It’s just important to remember that it can inflate anxiety. Here are some things I’ve been doing recently to deal with this:
1) Go for a walk to refresh when I’ve been reading too long and/or feel spun.
2) When a productive day in lab just isn’t going to happen, take time to do things around the house.
3)… or just literally do NOTHING. That’s ok too. Sometimes. Meditation is gr8.
4) Call your mom.
6) Write your goals down. If you can’t work towards them today, have them visible for tomorrow.
Oh and also, 30 DAYS UNTIL MY FIRST COMMITTEE MEETING AND 42 DAYS UNTIL BOSTON! Eeeep!