Productive Unproductivity – That’s A Thing, Right?

You know you want to read this just to find out what Mary did.

Today felt like a rather unproductive day.

Note: that’s not a complaint.

Some days just aren’t meant to be productive. At least, not productive in the sense that we all measure our time against. For me that means that I didn’t finish writing any papers today. In fact, I barely wrote anything. I did very little that could be called serious mathematics or statistics. I didn’t write a single line of code. I had far fewer meetings than I normally would have.

So what the hell did I do all day?

Good question.

I started my day answering only the most important of my emails – which numbered in the few instead of the many – and then moved on to other things. Things that included organizing my office, organizing my notes and papers, and researching programs for tracking time across multiple projects (thank you Dr. Beth for your insight and recommendation).

I also spent a good chunk of my day reading one of the two textbooks required for the course I’m teaching in the fall. Since I’ve never taught the course before, I’m trying to get things über organized well in advance. But let me be clear – I was only reading.

When I arrived home, I felt slightly guilty. Today was payday and all I could think was that I was paid even though I did nothing that I could label as productive. That is – I couldn’t justify my pay cheque with today’s sad excuse for work.

Fortunately, I came to my senses.

Not all of my work is going to be productive in the traditional sense.

Not all of my work is going to generate a paper, or a report, or guidance for a grad student, or a grant, or any other of the standard metrics that are associated with productive faculty members.

In short – not all of my work is going to generate academic results. At least, not immediately.

Anyway, I guess the point of this rant is that I have to accept that some days, well, some days are just meant for non-academic pursuits (like cleaning my desk), but these are necessary to clear my mind and set up an appropriate space for serious mathematical and statistical study.

Or, if you prefer, it prevents cockroaches from moving into my office.

I’m good with either explanation.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Beth says:

    I totally want to know how Mary “satisfied her customers”. *snicker*

    1. dangillis says:

      Me too. I’m about a fifth of the way through the book and nothing has been revealed yet. I’ll keep you posted.

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