Sunday, June 03, 2007

Procrastination and Productivity, Redefined

From the New York Times:

“The longer you work, the less efficient you are,” said Bob Kustka, the founder of Fusion Factor, a productivity and time-management consulting firm in Norwell, Mass. He says workers are like athletes in that they are most efficient in concentrated bursts. Elite athletes “play a set of tennis, a down of football or an inning of baseball and have a pause in between,” he says. Working energy, like physical energy, “is best used in spurts where we work hard on a few focused activities and then take a brief respite,” he says.

And those respites look an awful lot like wasting time.

It has taken me years to make tentative peace with my stops and starts during work. Every morning I vow to become a morning person, starting full speed out of the gate. And every morning I daydream, shuffle papers, read e-mail messages and visit blogs, and somehow it is time for lunch. Then, at about 2 p.m., a sense of urgency kicks in, and I write steadily, until about 5 or 6, when I revert to the little-of-this, some-of-that style of the morning.

I apparently have an avatar working for the New York Times, or maybe just someone who watches how I work.


StupendousWoman said...

This is one of the most reassuring posts I've ever read! I was beginning to think that I was the only academic (not) working like that... Somehow, I can't seem to manage more than five hours -- tops! -- a day. And well, that's a good day.
I think I'll print this New York Times article for further reference. ;)

Professor Zero said...

Yep. 5, 6 as a supermax, of real work. I was informed of this early on in graduate school by more experienced graduate students. It is sooo true.

I keep thinking though that that means I should be otherwise productive and energetic the rest of the time - I could be stripping the linoleum off the kitchen floor and installing tile! I could be... but no, I *need* a few hours of futzing around "work" before and after the work hours.

undine said...

I was tremendously reassured by this as well. The "futzing around work" is all part of the process, although I still have a hard time seeing it as such.