feeling productive actually makes you more productive (no joke)03 Sep 2016
i think this idea came from getting things done, but i’m not sure. one crazy thing about the way our brains work is positive feedback mechanisms. the more we can use these to our favor, the better.
now before getting too deep into this, a positive feedback loop isn’t necessary one that is “positive” in the most common sense of the word. it technically means that one action triggers the pathway to more of that action. a stampede is a result of a positive feedback loop as is eating at a popular restaurant. this is opposed to negative feedback loops in which an action triggers less of that action (more on that over here).
ok so what implication does positive feedback have on feeling productive? basically, when you feel like you’ve accomplished a goal, this triggers a release of certain chemicals that makes you feel good. most people have experienced this. most people have also experienced the reverse of this. when you don’t accomplish a goal, you feel bad and can even be demotivated.
both of these pathways are positive feedback loops. so how could you use that to be more productive? set the bar for success really low and make sure you can hit it. over time, you will build confidence, concrete knowledge of your ability to do that task, and you’ll also probably improve at it. then, you can slowly move the bar for success further and further so that you’re doing more, better.
example: in january of this year, i set out to write for ten minutes a day with a 200 word-cap. i wasn’t 100% successful, but by my six-month self-check in, i had 47 posts. i also noticed that i had, completely naturally, increased the amount of time i was writing everyday to 20 minutes. i think this is because i was getting more confident about my abilities and, because of that, i had more that i wanted to say. and more recently (just last week), i hit my 100th post for the year and i’m up to 30 minutes per post (including writing and research).*
now, if i had said to myself in january, write 100 blog posts by sept, i imagine my likelihood of success would have been very low. but because i set the bar from the other direction, i felt little successes along the way, i’ve got 100+ posts, and now it actually feels weird to not write. in fact, this is my second post today and i’m probably going to write two more before 10a (it’s 9:30a).
being strategic about making myself feel productive has been massively important for my productivity. and i’ve seen it work for other people, too.
it’d probably work for you, too.
* does this mean i’m a writer!?!??! :O