Notes on Productivity

680 words · 4 minute read
Last updated: Feb 5, 2024 · Published: Jan 20, 2022

Atomic Habits

One of the most imporant things you can do to become more productive is to form habits that you stick to consistently. The book Atomic Habits talks about this.

An important thought regarding habits: It is not important how much you do every day, it is much more important that you do it consistently every day. Two quotes that articulate this very well:

Skipping a day during the first few weeks of your habit can reset all the mental progress you’ve made thus far. By lowering the effort […] we make it easier for us to stick with the habit even during our worst days.

via The Value of Doing a Little

When I first started working on Typesense six years ago, I set myself a simple rule: I shall write some code everyday before or after work.

That’s it. No deadlines, no quarterly goals, no milestones.

[…] With no self-imposed time pressure, I was able to focus on just one thing: showing up every day and writing some code. Some features took an hour to implement, some took several hours spread over days, some even stretched into weeks, but it did not matter because there were no deadlines of any sort.

via The unreasonable effectiveness of just showing up everyday

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Productivity Tools

This quote by Arun Prasad in Who Uses To-Do Lists? sums it up nicely:

  1. Find a time-tested system that you can make into a habit.
  2. If it becomes a poor fit for your situation, change it.

Stop tweaking your tools and systems too often, making it more complex in the process. Instead, choose a simple system that you can stick to, and be able to change it when needed.

Amateurs and Professionals

The amateur attitude is flash over substance. It’s being a writer over doing the writing; hacks over principles; the fantasy of big results over the reality of daily process.

The professional attitude is the opposite: process, consistency, discipline, effort, and fundamentals. It’s focusing your energy on what really matters.

via Amateurs and Professionals by Arun Prasad.


Wait But Why has published a really awesome two-part series (part 1, part 2) on how procrastination happens and what to do about it. Some quotes that reasonated most with me:

A remarkable, glorious achievement is just what a long series of unremarkable, unglorious tasks looks like from far away.

[When procrastinators] picture the moment in the future when they sit down and knock out a work session, they picture things without the presence of the Instant Gratification Monkey.

Good Procrastination

Paul Graham has written a great essay on what he feels is “good procrastination”:

Good procrastination is avoiding errands to do real work.

The most dangerous form of procrastination is unacknowledged type-B procrastination, because it doesn’t feel like procrastination. You’re “getting things done.” Just the wrong things.

So someone doing the best work they can is inevitably going to leave a lot of errands undone. It seems a mistake to feel bad about that.

Productivity is not everything

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.

by William Martin, via HN

Avoiding the News