Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Just a question of how is the best way to maintain at least an adequate level of productivity when one feel disillusioned with most aspects of daily life - a daily life that can't be changed (circumstances beyond control), at least for a while.

I find that the 'sayings' do not help in any way, and I have acceted for at least the remainder of this year - the status quo will remain, so how is it possible to keep the productivity momentum going?

share|improve this question
Can you explain what you mean by disillusionment - do you mean your job isn't giving you what you need? Or are you not achieving something in your daily life? Or something else? – Rory Alsop May 29 '13 at 10:57
It may seem silly and odd, but I feel that I am not contributing enough to society. All I seem to do is work (teaching), study (PhD atmospheric physics/skin cancer prevention) and sleep (not very well). – user5479 May 29 '13 at 11:10
It could be that you're suffering from depression and don't recognize it for what it is. If so you may need treatment. When feeling better you'll be able to take on productivity problems. – Gruber May 29 '13 at 11:57
No, I have been tested for that, I don't suffer from depression. Just looking for tips that would help keeping (or even improving) productivitity until I finish my PhD (end of year). – user5479 May 29 '13 at 12:00
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I have faced this for much of my career and the things that have helped me most are:

a. Set my own goals - separate, and higher, than what are being asked of me. Ask for input when I can from others (bosses, peers, etc.) and set them. If appropriate, share them, but really they are for my benefit.

b. Measure my progress on a. regularly. Daily, hourly, etc. so I stay interested and motivated.

I've found that most employers, and people in general, accept a lot less than most of us are able (and often willing) to give. And that's sort of depressing after a while. So setting your own standards for what you would call success can be so helpful.

Good luck!

share|improve this answer
That is very good advice and largely in line with my way of thinking. Essentially setting my own standard and seeking to improve on that - this is something I have been doing in my studies, but should definitely extend to my work. – user5479 May 30 '13 at 20:53
It can be so hard to do. I think most of us get caught up in meeting someone else's standard for success instead of setting our own. I fight that every day in work in different ways. There is a great book, short, too by Michael Lewis called "Coach" and the guy in it talks about this exact thing (real coach from when Michael Lewis was a kid). – matthewp May 31 '13 at 13:22
Yes, I have heard of this book - will definitely read it. – user5479 May 31 '13 at 13:40

Several ideas here but first and foremost is that you have to give yourself some down time to do something other than work and study. You will be better able to do both if you give yourself some break time. You can often actually get more accomplished in 40 hours than 80 because you aren't exhausted. Even when you are working on your studies, go outside if it is a nice day. Make a nice glass of lemonade. Put your feet up. Enjoy yourself while you study.

I would look at the Pomodoro technique of working a set time and then taking a break. This will help you focus on working whether you particularly want to or not and the breaks are clearly something you need.

Next you need to mentally focus on the postive in your life. Start a gratitude journal and write in it every day. There are things around you that you enjoy, you jjust aren;t noticing them. Even the PhD work is something to be grateful for because it will lead to other better things in your life after this temporary period of difficulty getting through it. Be grateful for your health, for your freinds and family, for flowers or ice cream, or that you finished that section of the dissertation that was really difficult. Be grateful for your students and what you learn from them. Be grateful for nice weather, etc. It will help you feel more positive to realize there is alot in your life right now to be grateful for.

share|improve this answer
Good points - I am thankful for the job that I have (it is a good workplace), and for the study (it is a great journey) - but my point is, I don't feel I am doing enough to be of assistance. – user5479 May 30 '13 at 1:29
I should mention that I simply do not have time to keep a journal, and hve found that this practice, while good for some, does nothing for me. – user5479 May 30 '13 at 9:46

I've always found my meditation practice useful for this. It can take time and practice to be able to quiet the everyday mind down, but when you do, it is like returning to some sort of inner oasis. Spending time in stillness is like stepping into the cool shade when the day is baking hot. It renews and refreshes.

Another ´tool´ that I have availed of for this is yoga. Particularly the inverted postures. (Make sure that you learn how to do these safely from a teacher.)

Spending an hour or longer in nature also is worth exploring. Go for a nice long hike alone or with a friend. Try not to talk too much if with a friend. And yes, the idea of having a gratitude journal is a definate. Give it five weeks before you decide if it has benefit for you or not.

share|improve this answer
Admittedly, I struggle with meditation and injury largely precludes me from yoga, but getting back to nature is something I try to do at least once a fortnight (walking tracks nearby) – user5479 May 30 '13 at 21:40
This book just came to mind. ( I haven´t read it, but I listened to an interview with the author a while back and it stayed with me. Maybe you need to up the 'joy´ factor in your Life? – Donal May 30 '13 at 21:55
The 'joy' factor is not the issue - it is my feeling that I am not contributing enough. – user5479 May 30 '13 at 22:00

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.