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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?

A Slightly More Cautious Take On Modafinil

"My Experiences With Modafinil" was a popular post that kicked off discussion. Here's a friend's take, who is feeling optimistic about it but also slightly more cautious:

I've just noticed the pattern, abnormally high productivity is inevitably followed by a funk for me. Three reasonable explanations come to mind.

* Important to recognize, it could just be a relative shift bias, where the high productivity makes my return to normal feel worse than it is.

* Could be a resource scarcity brought on by burning hot, in which case good nutrition and supplements should be able to make a good dent in it.

* Could be "damage" or "disorganization" caused by burning hot. If this is a real thing, I wouldn't be surprised if our brains have built in mechanisms to kill or cool down the engines while we repair. Overriding this mode is probably safe most of the time if the mechanism is conservative enough, but using neuroactive drugs to try to override completely on a regular basis seems dangerous to me.

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