Micro Actions and Macro States
The below is probably super obvious to some people, but having just realized it recently, I think it’s a pretty cool framework to view productivity and getting things done:
So when we look at how productive we are in general, we tend to take a very macro, or “high up”, overview–we’re looking at how much time we spend on reading good books, or how often we browse Reddit, on average. The point is that we often make judgments about how well we’re doing by looking at long-term trends.
But our long-term trends, the patterns we label as “productivity” are nothing but the sum of lots of little decisions we make that, on average, end up producing such a trend.
Which means that as long as you focus on doing well in the moment, productivity will automatically arise as an epiphenomenon of your focused work!
For me, this takes a lot off my shoulders, as I no longer need to worry if I’m contributing to a long-term trend of “doing well”. I can turn my attention to just excelling at my next action and what I’m doing right now, instead of all the things that need to go right today in order for today to contribute to the streak of days that I refer to as the concept of “productivity”.
In short, macro states (like productivity) arise as a result of micro actions (what you do “in the moment”), so if you’re doing well on the micro level, you’ll be seeing macro results, without having to worry about optimizing directly for them!