Getting things done


in Daily updates, Oxford

Puddles on Church Walk

What motivates people? I am not speculating about long-term planning here, but about the kind of decisions at the margin that shape the course of individual days: the points where a symmetry collapses in favour of making that the last time you hit the snooze button or that the last chapter you read before you go biking.

Individually, such decisions can be put down to context and to whim. Because they aggregate into productive or unproductive days, which in turn aggregate into weeks and months, understanding how to manipulate marginal decisions seems like a path for improving efficiency. Setting up efficient systems of reward and punishment, accompanied by personal prohibitions on really wasteful activities, seems like a good idea. With all the things that I can feel looming over me, I am feeling the need to do better at getting things done. After all, I need to brush up on two unfamiliar subjects, as well as finishing the fish paper editing, by next Thursday. Then, I have a package of tasks to finish for Dr. Hurrell before August 3rd.

An obvious productivity booster is to ban myself from blogging, but I think that would actually be counterproductive. The blog really helps me keep track of projects and ideas. A ban from reading other peoples’ blogs (I track 116, including many that are updated more than ten times a day) might be far more sensible.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. July 23, 2006 at 6:05 pm

This is an unusually good photo of the day.

Ben July 24, 2006 at 4:48 pm

I find lack of a computer has cut distractions, though it also stops me doing some much needed writing…

Milan July 24, 2006 at 7:44 pm


I have been keeping mine generally disconnected from the internet as a mechanism to reduce procrastinatory potential.

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