Productivity is a Trap - My TheListserve Email

On June 1st, I got an email telling me that I'd won the listserve. This is what I wrote. In a future blog posts, I hope to share some of the great advice and comments I received.

I wake up at 7am because I’m so excited about working on the app that I had started writing the night before and I want to get a few hours of work in before my "real" work. I click the pomodoro timer in the upper left hand corner of Google Chrome to start the 25 minute count down. While it’s running, the pomodoro app blocks gmail, facebook and youtube. Ingenious, right? I love productivity apps.

In fact, I love productivity tricks so much that my friends ask me for productivity advice.


There’s a new productivity app that uses binaural beats that I signed up for...what was it called? I don’t remember, so I open my email. The timer is running so I can’t open gmail because it's blocked. No worries - I simply switch to incognito window in chrome and open gmail there. I search for the activation notice in my email. Ah, it was called Focus@will.

I open it up and try to start the music. It doesn’t work. I try different browsers and different buttons for about ten minutes before filing a support ticket.


Now that I’m not being blocked by my pomodoro extension, I decide to check facebook. Staring me in the face is an opinion piece on the New York Times about why women wear heals. Ok, I’ll take that bait. I read it. Then I see a link to another article in Fashion and Style that sounds interesting, so I start reading without finishing the first article.

The timer rings, reminding me of why I’m working already at 7:30am. I just wasted an entire pomodoro doing things besides writing that app. Facepalm.


I have trouble finishing things.

Two years ago, I made a list of my unfinished projects. I hoped that seeing what I hadn’t finished would give me the kick in the pants that I needed to be more productive. The final list had over 100 projects on it. Rather than help me, reviewing this list discouraged me.

Why did I start projects at all if I wasn’t going to finish them? Why wake up early, miss out on sleep, give up relationships, and then fail to finish?


I feel like I’ve been stuck in an uncreative slump ever since. I don’t want to start something that I won’t finish, so I don’t start it at all. This has been good for my relationships, and maybe even my job, but I feel like part of me is missing. As I keep rejecting the ideas as they pop into my head, they stop coming.

The funny thing is that reading over the list of unfinished projects, I did eventually finish most of them. It just took me longer than it might have taken someone else. I finished the relevant parts of the Design Patterns book. I learned to play poker. I went through all of Lady Ada's tutorials.  


It’s not that I don’t finish things, it’s that I finish them on my own timeline. I know that if I start washing the dishes this morning, I’ll finish them by tomorrow night (which is frustrating for my boyfriend). I wish that I wasn’t like this. I wish that I had better self-control and finished projects in four hours instead of four months. But according to modern science, ADHD cannot be cured. So for now, I’ll keep using my productivity apps to help me. Also, I’ll start lots of things and eventually I’ll finish them.


See, I finished this email :)