Hi Lenka. Thanks so much for reading and for your feedback- I really appreciate you engaging with me like this.

I totally accept your point of view and I think in the situation you describe word count is as good an indication of productivity as any. I have a few problems with it as a strategy generally though, but in particular in Chris Bailey’s experiments.

Let’s consider 3 consecutive days of writing. On day 1 you write 800 words. It is good stuff, but you struggled to get in the zone because you kept thinking about how your car needs a service and you’re running out of cat food. On day 2 you only write 600 words, but you also buy cat food and get your car serviced. On day 3 you write 1500 words because now the car and the cat are off your mind. Which is your most productive day? If you just count words, day 2 is the least productive, but actually I would argue it is your most productive because not only did you get some writing done, you paved the way to crush it on day 3.

Let’s consider writing an article to post on Medium. I might consider it a project: post article X to Medium. Now I would break that down into tasks. Maybe i) draft body of article; ii) draft opening paragraph; iii) draft concluding paragraph; iv) draft title for piece; v) identify representative photograph to use; vi) Publish!

So, in terms of word count, step i) is probably the biggest task, but actually that is probably the easiest part- I know what I want to say and I have the argument formed in my head. I can just bang that out. Step iv) is probably the least words (apart from finding a picture!), so the least productive by our counting words definition of productivity. But it is fundamentally important to the success or failure of the piece on the platform. So, by spending time on the 6 or 12 words in my title, was I less productive than when I was writing the body of the piece? I don’t think so.

So I monitor my productivity by counting both task and project completions. The tasks are moving my projects forward. Completing the projects is what I am after. This has a couple of benefits. While not all tasks are created equally in terms of importance, in our heads a seemingly unimportant task can create mental drag and slow down the more important stuff. Everything is interconnected. It also keeps me focused on moving all of my live projects forward. It takes a little more thinking up front and forces you to breakdown seemingly straightforward outcomes into quite granular parts, but the visibility it gives you of what you actually have on your plate makes it worth the effort. Even when you are writing a book you need to feed the cat, keep the car on the road and remember your Mum’s birthday, right? If you don’t have those things under control too, the book writing is going to be much slower because they will be playing on your mind. Not including those things in your measuring of your productivity is denying the impact they can have, both positive and negative, on the achievement of your bigger goals.

Productive thinking on personal development, habit formation and limiting procrastination. You can find my website at www.running2keepup.com

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