March 17, 2021•382 words
Reading time: 2 min
What is the fastest rate I can work and write at?
Looking back at my history of self-initiated projects and assigned papers*, my fastest rate of working and writing tends to come to me when there's deadline pressure.
Deadlines are how we can unlock exorbitantly high rates of productivity.
I suggested that humans losing the ultimate deadline, life and health may not actually decrease the overall productivity of humanity (in terms of GDP per capita, one measure of productivity).
But here I am affirming that deadlines do drive productivity.
This seems contradictory, but I reckon life and health expectancy is an externally-imposed deadline. An extrinsic motivator. This is comparable to the deadline pressure I referred to earlier- they were externally imposed on me.
Even without externally imposed deadlines, we could self-impose deadlines, which are arguably provides intrinsic motivation. We impose it because we want to do what we are doing, and to finish what we are doing in a timely manner. This type of intrinsic motivation could be why even without external deadlines, we can still be productive.
*Collecting / recalling some data...
9,000 words (the length of half of a dissertation?) in 10 days (with 3 days of break in the middle to sort out something that happened in a relationship, so 7 days), finished the day of the deadline.
2,000 words in 5-6 hours, the day of the deadline.
1,200 words in a day, a day before the deadline.
1,00 words in 1.5 hours, a day before the deadline.
500 words in 1.5 hours, 2 weeks before a deadline.
My rate of writing does seem to rise the closer I am to deadlines. May collect more data on this in the future; keep you posted if I get more.
Some cautions: These are estimations. Correlations are not necessarily causes. It could be that I remember these particular cases because they are highly memorable from how amazed I am at what I did (see survivorship bias); there could be plenty of other examples that do not follow the correlation that I do not remember because they were not noteworthy.