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Issue #32

Productivity (In Theory)

John Loeppky

January 11, 2024

A stopwatch on a blue background. At the top of the stopwatch it says “Deadline” in red.
Slow, slow, slow/Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

Will Planning Always Be this Difficult?

In a recent video, productivity YouTuber Rachelle in Theory, shared a really interesting insight. Her channel, which revolves around planning of various types, also talks about neurodivergence a lot. In this video she started off by saying, “Truly productive people aren’t actually getting more done, they’re just getting the right things done.”

To which I immediately yelped, from my couch, coffee in hand, “If I’m lost, how do I figure out what the right things are?!” Her version of prioritizing starts with asking three questions: does this need to be done? Does this task need to be done by me? And, does it need to happen right now?” She goes into much further detail, including how you can align your task configuration with your morals and values, but these three questions are really helpful to ask ourselves.

I’ve talked previously in this newsletter about limiting the number of tasks you’ve chosen for yourself and, at first glance, this might seem at odds with Rachelle’s technique here. However, I think, even if you’ve only chosen one key thing to do today, there is still a ton of prioritization that is going to end up happening as a result. Let’s take my list from yesterday’s CRPL:

  • Get out of bed
  • Make breakfast
  • Toilet dogs (preferably not in a snow storm)
  • Work for an hour on book proposal
  • Make Dinner
  • Rest throughout

When we’re cripping productivity we have to work towards understanding that, even when we feel like we’ve got our shit figured out, it’s going to be really hard to get to the point where even simple tasks are automated. Productivity in a disabled body and mind requires a lot of thought that goes beyond the sort of automatic choices laid out in productivity books like Atomic Habits

So, looking at this list with that in mind, here’s what the list can turn into very easily:

  • Get out of bed

What changes if I’m sleeping in the bed versus on the couch?
Do I need to get the dogs out right away? 
Do I need to stretch once I get up?

  • Make Breakfast

What am I eating?
Do I need to make something that I can eat sitting in my wheelchair or do I need to transfer? 
How long will this take? 
Should I read while I’m eating? 

  • Toilet Dogs

Do I need help? 
Am I going to have to bribe the puppy to come inside?
What happens if they refuse to come in? 

  • Book Proposal

Which section?
Do I work from bed or my desk?
How do I protect this time from other responsibilities?

  • Make Dinner

What do we eat? 
Will I need help? 
When should I serve it? 

Overwhelmed yet? Don't worry, you don't have to be.

The point is that, like any high school math problem, there are just going to be more requisite steps in a disabled productivity thought pattern than there will be in your standard non-disabled one. And that’s okay, but it does mean we need systems to help us navigate them. Some of these tasks have been decided, if not carried out, by others. I subscribe to Hello Fresh so that I don’t have to pick what food I’m eating and how I need to cook it. My agent, in a pinch, can tell me which section of the book proposal I should be focusing on, and I am at the stage where I’m assuming the puppy will need bribery and corruption of some sort to come back in the house quickly. 

You’ll notice that a lot of the highly thought-heavy tasks have to do with the body and/or independence/interdependence. I am at a stage where I can make choices surrounding whether I need to stretch or transfer, fairly intuitively. However, life wasn’t always like that. Similarly, whether I need help can differ minute to minute or hour to hour. 

So, here’s your challenge for the day. Take your tasks from yesterday—just a few, not all of them—and sort out which ones you’ve put on crip autopilot and which ones still require intense thought or planning. My guess is that that second group is where an increased focus on the systems you don’t yet have in their best state could do you good. 

Until tomorrow,


PS: Can you do me a favour and share today's newsletter? It would mean a lot

Want to Support More Disability-led Writing?

I've decided to shift CRPL to a 5 times a week newsletter about productivity as I am fascinated by the topic, am in the early stage of writing a book about it, and want to have a place to think, and write, and create work about this vital area of thinking. Click below to join the daily newsletter and/or to help financially support this project.