My friend Eliot has started a project to measure his work habits, and is searching for conclusions in the data he collects. And because Eliot is a statistics major, he’s been able to draw some of those conclusions–or at least sketch some hunches.

One such hunch is the idea that productivity begets productivity. That is, you’re more productive when you feel productive, when you’re confident in your productivity. And when you don’t feel productive, it’s hard to get yourself out of that rut.

That seemed like a reasonable supposition to me, so I decided to apply it to my own life. I started using Github to manage the coursework for one of my classes.

Now, I probably should have been using git anyways, but I decided to put everything up on a (private!) repository for one main reason–Github graphs. I wanted to see a visualization of just how much work I’d done.

It became incredibly satisfying to see changes to these graphs, no matter how small they were, as I progressed through projects for this course. Sometimes I’d catch myself spending a couple extra minutes here or there admiring the graphs–and while it could be argued that I was wasting my time on this, I realized that my assignments for the course were being turned in earlier and more completely. Seeing the graphs on Github made me more confident in my productivity, and so I found that I was being more productive–at least in that course.

So as far as I’m concerned, Eliot is right: Productivity begets productivity.

There is a downside to this, of course: My productivity in another course, which I can’t sync with Github, plummeted.

This has raised some more questions: How will I measure my productivity in non-programming courses? How will I measure my productivity in frustrating theory courses where I might spend more time just ruminating than anything else?

If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments, or over Twitter. Now, back to work.

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