Being productive all the time is not just difficult, it might actually burn you out, but that being said lack of productivity for an extended period of time is dangerous too because it gives the mind an excuse to start looking at all the negative things happening in the world, especially with the global pandemic going on.
So how does one stay productive consistently? I find that the only way to be productive is through feedback. To be productive you need to receive a small but noticeable reward for attempting to be productive. If that did not make any sense, let me try and explain it with an example.
I wanted to write a piece of content today because I have not written anything in a long period of time. Once this piece is out there on a few social media platforms, I might see a small but noticeable spike in the traffic to my blog which I can confirm from my good friend google analytics. This little spike in traffic is my tiny reward which will kick start a feedback loop.
Now there is higher likelihood that I will try and write some more content next week because I still remember the feeling of that reward and I want to feel it again, but the difference now is that I have built a tolerance for this reward and the only way I would feel satisfied is if I receive a higher reward which in this case might translate to a higher spike in google analytics.
To receive a higher reward I am now motivated to write better quality content which reaches a wider group of audience and what gets even better is if people start engaging with me after reading my post and wish to dwell further into the subject.
If I can keep this up every week while slightly increasing the quantum of work but also the quantum of reward, eventually it becomes a habit that I can no longer ignore.
I build software, so for me the feedback loop translates to building a small software module that does one particular task, run a few tests on it to see if it functions like it should and this will kick start the feedback loop. I feel rewarded that I built one tiny part of a large project which works perfectly and is ready to be integrated with the rest of the project.
Incremental steps can then be added by combining different modules with each other and making them work together. The loop becomes much stronger once there is an actual visual component to look at and interact with because at this point you have basically created something tangible and the reward you get from that lasts much longer than the smaller rewards.
It is entirely possible that I put out this piece of content today and nobody cares. Maybe I do not see any spike in google analytics at all. But the very fact that I managed to write something today and share it a few people who are at the very least likely to give it a read creates a feeling of accomplishment which serves as a small reward to kick start the feedback loop.
Sometimes the reward is not as great as expected but as long as it is not zero, the loop is strong enough to get you going.