Attention management for writers, the last part: pay no attention to productivity

So here we are, at the end of our attention span, and I guess it’s time to address the elephant in the room: productivity.

I’m not a huge fan of productivity talk. It always feels rushed, stressful, and focused on quantity over quality.

Focusing on attention feels like the exact opposite: The goal is to be calm, to immerse ourselves in a task and produce quality work. We don’t set our timers to count down to the end of the task, only to remind ourselves it’s time to take a break. We don’t measure our output by words per day, only that subjective sense of a job well done.

Paying attention to how we pay attention is a process goal, rather than a result goal. We care about how we work, and not the exact number of tasks it gets us through. In that sense, it can be a great way to destress a workday: success is as simple as getting quiet time, and quiet time is in itself a form of stress relief. On top of that, it lets us practice mastery of our craft and produce work we’re proud off, further contributing to our well-being.

Productivity is often a byproduct – we’re naturally more productive when we’re not running around like a headless chicken. But it should never be a goal. Quality is a good goal, focus is a good goal, flow is a good goal. Leave productivity numbers to assembly lines.

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