The Problem with Productivity

Why is it that strengths are so often also weaknesses (and, of course, vice versa)? Three days in to Spinning Plates, and its strengths and weaknesses are being revealed, with a great deal of overlap between the two.

One of its main strengths is that it seems to work even when I’m tired. Yesterday I was positively zombiesque, after a busy day the day before – aka ereyesterday or nudiustertian (I am not even making this up) – followed by a dramatic if somewhat sleep-deprived night involving blood, screaming and three speeding police cars, albeit all in separate incidents. (The police cars were together; the blood and screaming each came separately.)

Periorbital darkness
Come midday, I told myself I would try to do something, at least. By the end of the afternoon I’d spun six of my seven plates (exercise being the unsurprising exception). I was still rather droopy, but I’d done the things I needed to do – one at a time. Not much downside there, right?

But the Spinning Plates method’s other main strength – well, that’s another story. I get things done and no part of my life gets wildly out of control. Sounds good, yes? Yes, but…

But as productive as this method is, it’s no magic bullet. Its very productivity is its Achilles’ heel. Because the faster one gets things done, the faster one needs to figure out what to do next.

Taken to extremes, one can end up like Gromit in The Wrong Trousers, racing along on a model train while feverishly laying track before the wheels. Where one is going begins to matter rather less than that one continues to go there at the same speed. One can so easily end up seizing at the next available Thing To Do instead of targeting the job which it would be most beneficial to have done.

Exercise Treadmill Convey Motion
Going nowhere – fast!
Flexibility needs to be built in. Today, for example, I was going to spray our citrus trees for scale (rot their pestilential little insecty hearts). But the spray will wash off in the rain, and the forecast says rain until the weekend. So I have to think of some other yardwork task to carry out. (In the rain. Erk.) And some kind of exercise that can be done indoors. (Energetic duster-wielding dance to the strains of ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’? The materials are to hand…)

In essence, what I need is an eighth macro-plate – or possibly multiple-plate-carrying tray: the Plate (or Tray) of Strategic Thinking. And since seven plates look odd laid out on a tray, better add a nice cup of tea.

There’s no point in charging ever onward if one is going nowhere. There’s a reason it’s “on your mark, get set, go!” and “ready, aim, fire!” rather than just “go!” and “fire!”

Budapest I., lány puskával. Fortepan 18039
Consider the difference between a stormtrooper and Echo Sackett. Both have targets, but only one troubles to actually aim at the target before firing. Makes all the difference. Miss Sackett gets fresh meat for dinner; the Stormtrooper falls to their enemies or their psycho boss’s lethal performance reviews.

You can, if you wish, create an upgraded Combined Metaphor Sackett Spinning Plates Method in which plates are spun into the air, aimed at and then shot to pieces in the manner of clay pigeons, but be warned: metaphor hybridization is an uncertain process and you proceed at your own risk. Think First.


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