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Is the problem that dislikable work feels more productive?

Patrick McKenzie writes in "The Hardest Adjustment to Self Employment"

I wanted to have AR in beta six weeks ago. Between consulting, vacation, and BCC, I haven’t made almost any forward progress on engineering.

I know that to be true for AR because code isn’t getting written, but I always think it to be true for BCC. It turns out that I am smoking something: I ran a shell script to compare my productivity (commits, A/B tests, etc) prior and post quitting. I thought it would show me spinning my wheels. Turns out I am getting more done than ever. ... Sales are up, too. Why doesn’t it feel this way?

I've been thinking about this since I read it this morning. Could it be that work you dislike and are being mandated to do feels more productive? I did about six hours of great work today, but most of it was talking to people I enjoy talking to and learn a lot from and playing around in Google analytics. I felt like I got nothing done until I looked at my list at the end of the day - tons of good stuff checked off.

One of the greatest things about working for yourself is that you can focus on what you want to do, and often that's work-that-feels-like-play-but-also-pays-you. Isn't that magnificent? Work that doesn't feel like working that's highly productive? Just, it's easy not to feel productive afterwards, since it felt like playing all day... what do you think?


On Zen Papa

Disappointment when I don't meet some goal or ideal is a frequent issue for me. I didn't used to notice how much I'd beat myself up over falling short in a lot of ways until I started working on self-compassion. When I started meditating with that in mind I immediately felt like a weight had been lifted that I didn't know I had. It seemed a tad counter intuitive since I expect some degree of self criticism to produce results - it doesn't. When I catch myself getting down because I didn't do something I expected myself to, my reaction is more to avoid it than to deal with it. But if I notice it and work on feeling self-compassion, I start to feel good enough to do something about it. http://www.self-compassion.org/guided-self-compassion-meditations-mp3.html has some guided meditations that I found helpful.

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