On a daily basis, we do things to feel good about ourselves, to feel valuable as people. I can see some broad categories, all clustered into “relationships” and “work/getting shit done.” The relationship node can encompass any sort of interaction with other people, and I see the work node as any form of action in life that could render you “busy” or “productive” or basically not doing something (like sleep or relaxation) that might make you feel guilty for NOT working. Yes, unfortunately that seems to be a common guilt for my generation.

Anyway, feeling value is largely a balance, we dip and get fed from both wells. I like to feel valued and good about myself by both social and academic accomplishments, both large and small. And when i say academic i mean “getting myself, or my cause, somewhere” not just school work. The main difference between these nodes lies in the level of perceived control.

For me, its a lot harder to predict, and be sure of, getting social fulfillment on a day to day basis, so I lean heavily on “getting shit done” to feel valued. Over time, this can become habitual, because it is certain. I am under control of what I get done, it is up to me. But anything that involves other people isn’t predictable like that – I can’t rely on it on a daily basis for feeling good. because even if I DO get fed from this social node, there is no guarantee that it will taste good, or satiate me at all.

So applying this further, to myself, if you look at my average day, it is “inhuman” (as my mom calls it, ty mom, I know I’m an alien, but methinks you might have something to do with that 😛 ) and productive to an extreme. How would someone else feel living a day of my life? Would it overwhelm someone else? I’m not sure. It’s a question I’ve always had about myself, and other people too. But I am leaning towards the idea that college is a “loaded” environment in this sense – and that my need for busy-ness will change as time and environment changes.

The important point is that feeding the work node keeps my valuation of myself at a steady level while other influences that aren’t under my control can come in. So on days that I get social boosts, the productiveness can go down a bit, and i still feel good. But I need the work node to be full on days when there is nothing. And of course long long spans of nothing aren’t good for me either, so I keep that in mind. But on the whole, other people aren’t in my control, and I just do what I can to be around other people, and it’s exciting when I get fed/feel good from a social interaction.

I’m thinking about this now because I’ve had social situations that haven’t fed me, (it was more disappointing when I thought that it might and then didn’t), and I’ve been heavily leaning on the “work” dynamic and being busy and productive to feel good, but it’s been long enough that my stores are running low. And in this case I’m learning to be like one of my friends who is abroad for the summer, and be the catalyst to pull people together to do something fun, on occasion – I might send out an initial “poke” to some friends to go out to dinner, or invite them to tag along for a shopping trip, or something like that. I’m never sure what will come of it, but it’s usually really fun, and fulfilling, at least for me, so I think it will shift me back into balance. That deserves a good 😀 !

Suggested Citation:
Sochat, Vanessa. "Why Productivity Feels Good." @vsoch (blog), 14 Jun 2008, https://vsoch.github.io/2008/why-productivity-feels-good/ (accessed 12 Jun 24).