Thinking, Planning, Producing, Improving

330 words


This is an attempt at a productivity system that tries to avoid depending on fickle bursts of motivation. The goal is to be able to make progress even if you’re not in the mood.

The central point is to try to break everything down into pieces that are small enough that they are neither daunting nor do they require a lot of motivation and positive energy. This breaking down is cyclical so that it includes the process of breaking down itself. It tries to make creative projects like writing doable under the circumstances of a more pedestrian mental state. Just keep taking the next step.

The system is a cycle where you’re either Planning, Thinking, Producing or Improving. Each of these should be broken down into simple enough pieces that it is doable without strong motivation.

Planning is sketching, noting, breaking down, structuring, designing etc. Always in small parts. It avoids depending on motivation by being non-final and ugly. You’re just adding structure to use in future. It’s temporary and never the final product.

Thinking is letting your mind work without producing anything tangible. Most often this is prompted by the planning producing a more specific point to think about or let your mind work on. It avoids depending on motivation by not requiring any product whatsoever. Just think.

Producing is producing some small part of the final product in draft form. It relies on the outputs of Planning, informed by Thinking, to have reduced the task into tiny pieces that are not daunting to take a stab at. It avoids depending on motivation by only dealing with small pieces and avoiding tackling anything substantial at once.

Improving is taking the output of Producing in small pieces and seeing if there are ways to make it slightly better in an incremental way. It avoids depending on motivation by not requiring anything new to be produced, and only taking small pieces of the output of Producing, one at a time.