Scarcity in Time Creates more Productivity

A few months ago, my son was born. He really brings a lot of joy to our life. But, as every new parent might tell you, carrying about a small one is really exhausting and time-consuming. In the first few weeks, I wasn’t able to get anything done besides the things that absolutely had to be done. I didn’t have time for my hobbies or for my side projects. Since then, things changed. A lot! I noticed that the time scarcity that I’m experiencing right now is actually improving my productivity. Why is that so?

What Has Improved?

Last year, I decided to blog regularly. I wanted to blog twice a month. This did sound achievable and would return enough positive feedback to keep me going. Or, so I thought. I managed to follow this goal for only two months or so. Then life happened and I couldn’t write as much anymore and my motivation to pursue this goal vanished as well.

Another thing I was working on was a small web app to create a small side hustle. Again, I managed to start the project and get something done but then my motivation dropped and I found less and less time to continue, until I stopped working on this project at all.

One month after the birth of my son I managed to start my writing schedule again and this time I didn’t stop. I also don’t have the big motivation drop that I experienced the first time I tried. The same is true for the web app. I resumed my work on it and I’m making progress. Slowly but it continues and the motivation is still here.

How my attitude has changed

After I noticed this change I researched a little bit on the topic of scarcity. Generally speaking, this topic is mostly researched in economic studies, which is quite logical since in economics one of the most important things is to know how to handle limited resources. One of these resources is time. Which is special, in, that it can’t be saved up or converted to in any way. Also, every single one has the same amount of it per day.

Something I did that boosted my productivity a lot was that I concisely prioritized the important things above all else and decided that I will spend way less time procrastinating. I have four things which I consider to be of the highest priority and everything else has to be planned around this. I don’t work on all of these points every single day, but I am working every week on them. One of these important tasks is that I want to work a little bit on my writing or web app. The other things consume way more time since they are more important and also, per se, more time-consuming, like spending time with my boy and with my wife.

To improve my writing skills I spend fifteen minutes a few days a week writing or researching about a topic. This is by no means much, but it is starting to become a habit and it adds up very very quickly. I try to spend this time in one block so that I don’t have to context switch and can stay focused.

I was already using the Pomodore technice for work sometimes and noticed that it really helps to stay focused and get into a flow in these intervals. For my current situation I can’t spend more time blocks with writing but blocking the time still increased my output a lot.

Another productivity booster was day theming. Day theming means that you are not mixing the tasks you are working on. For me, that means that one day I’m writing for my blog and the other day I continue to build my web app. Why is this beneficial? The mindset during writing a blog, even a technical one, is quite different from programming. By separating the tasks we are reducing the mental strain for doing so and more energy is available for the current work.

Does this mean that I stopped procrastinating at all? Of course not! There are days where I don’t sit down to work on the task of the day. Life happens and this will continue to be so. But because I changed my general attitude toward my projects and am way more aware of the situation I have more energy in working on them. Also, since I researched a little bit on this topic I improved my time management event further.