“How do you get so much done?”

Nina Wieretiło
12 min readFeb 14, 2022

“Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.” — Alan Watts, British philosopher

A close friend of mine has recently told me that I totally should become a productivity guru, give people advice on social media, preach productivity as if it was my second name. Indeed, I am able to get quite a lot of stuff done in short amounts of time. Yet I believe that productivity is horribly overrated. How so? It does not really mean much beyond its application in the field of economics (where it has a clear, meaningful definition), it is overused by self-development gurus (khem, khem), and it can easily get us “walking circles” — as in “she is able to do a lot of stuff quickly because she is very productive, that is, because she can do a lot of stuff quickly” (most commonly used definition of high productivity is producing high output using low inputs, that is achieving much with low input of resources, such as time).

I can already see my closest friends smirking. Nina, also known as Productivity Nin(j)a, talking about how productivity is bollocks. Jokes on you, Nin(j)a. Indeed, I used to be very proud about how productive I can be.

How did I notice that I am? Even when I started studying at Oxford, which is said to be the place with some of the smartest people in the world, it often seemed like my colleagues are miles behind in terms of how much output (e.g. essays) they can squeeze out of the same amount of input (time, lecturers’ help).