I'm not sure why I'm so productive all of a sudden, but I've got a few theories.
Maybe I'm just high from overexposure to social situations (curse you, friends and local bloggers!), or maybe my brain is trying to cope with my cash flow problems by occupying me with free work. I've also re-discovered the addictive computer game Jardinains, which has the side benefit of mindless fun.
Normally, I'm most productive when I'm overrun with things to do and I develop a new scheme for tracking them. I tend to change schemes every six months or so. But very few of the items I've completed recently are the type of project that would ever make it onto any to-do list. Maybe the absence of a tracking scheme is the new tracking scheme, and I'm just getting through the things on that non-list.
Then there's the fact that none of these tasks were particularly important. Usually I don't get things done because there's some important deadline looming for a big project and I spend all my time procrastinating and agonizing over the fact that I'm not doing it. I might procrastinate by accomplishing a less important task, but doing so comes with the guilt that I'm spending productive energy by not doing the top item. I don't have any major time-sensitive projects coming due soon, so my current productivity burst isn't from that kind of pressure. Though things have been crazy busy at work...
I've also been really tired during the day this week. Really, really tired, like how you get when you barely slept the previous night. But I've been getting solid nights of sleep. Maybe this fatigue means there's something else happening, like a hormonal or vitamin imbalance that is a common cause for the fatigue and the productivity.
But I really think it has to do with my breakup with e-mail. There would be nights when I'd come home from work, check my e-mail, and by the time I've finished, it's too late to eat dinner and sometimes even too late to get a full night of sleep. A couple nights like that in a row can leave me very undernourished, which causes all sorts of troubles.
Lately, I've approached my e-mail inbox with a very light touch. Last week I had pushed aside a few long e-mails (e.g. links to reports) to read on the weekend, and on the weekend I barely checked my e-mail at all. I'll ignore group discussions for a couple days, then read up on the entire subject all at once. Most of the time, problems have already been resolved, and anything I'd have said was already said by somebody else. If I do have to contribute, it's minimal--a couple suggestions to add to the discussion, or an acknowledgement. All that's left is to categorize the thread and archive it. Once I get my inbox back to a certain number of unread messages (currently at
Why is this so important? Because I'm a packrat, and an information-hoarder. My Gmail account is my memory; it documents everything I need to do, and everything I've done. It is a reference library of schedules, meeting agendas and minutes, correspondence, committee work, arguments, contact information, et cetera. If I'm trying to remember what happened on a certain date, my first stop is Gmail. If I vaguely recall talking with somebody about something, I search my Gmail for that discussion to recall it. If someone phones me up to ask me to do something, I tell them to e-mail me a reminder, or else I'll probably forget. Most message threads have a half dozen or so different labels on them, so that I can filter them accordingly. My Gmail archive (currently at 35% capacity) goes back to 2005 when I got my Gmail account, and even earlier now that I've uploaded via imap all the messages from my previous inbox.
So for me to say I've become apathetic about e-mail is kinda like the Bishop saying he's no longer into the whole God thing (or whatever it is Bishops do..moving diagonally?): it's a radical paradigm shift. For me to be spontaneously productive (and paradoxically tired at the same time) is even stranger.
I guess I could waste my time trying to figure it out. Or maybe it'll pass. In the meantime, if it works, why bother asking why?