Complementary Productivity

Saturday is my day to market, bake, and clean the apartment. In many ways, it’s my favorite part of the week: I get tangible results, time outside at the market, and I get to move around instead of sitting at a desk. Spending the day on real, concrete physical tasks balances all the theoretical work I do during the week–kneading bread and cracking eggs is the perfect antidote to endless cite-checking and bluebooking.

Most importantly, it also allows me to take a break without sacrificing productivity. Most breaks – slurping margaritas on the beach, mindless web surfing, gossip magazines – are a break from productivity. Doing something different on your day off – reading Dickens for a carpenter, baking bread for a lawyer – is a shift to a different kind of productivity.

In my experience, the difference between engaging in one kind of productivity at the exclusion of all else and engaging in different, complementary kinds of productivity during the week is like the difference between monocrop agriculture and polyculture. The former depletes the soil and poisons the water. The latter nourishes the soil, filters the water, grows a complete meal, and supports all sorts of life forms.

You might have guessed already, but I definitely recommend the polyculture approach.

Here’s what I did on Saturday:

Walked to the farmers market on the other side of the park (one mile each way). Bought apples, eggs, vegetables, and honey.

Walked to the grocery store (half mile each way). Bought grits, cheese, citrus fruits, and cleaning supplies.

Baked oatmeal bread (recipe tomorrow).

Baked whole-wheat banana muffins with almonds and raisins (recipe tomorrow).

Swept and swiffered the kitchen floors.

Dusted the cabinets and removed mysterious bits of grime from the counters and stove top.

Cleaned the bathroom.

Met a prospective subletter.

Here’s what’s I’m doing Monday:

Turned in a draft of my thesis.

Constitutional Law, Natural Resources Law, and Evidence

Correcting footnotes for the journal

Correcting footnotes for a professor

Mediating a case in small claims court

See? Complementary productivity!

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One Response to Complementary Productivity

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I thought you would also discuss the complementarity of some of these Saturday activities: while you are out at the market the bread is doing its first rise, while you are cleaning the bath the bread is doing its final rise, and while you pay the weekly bills the bread is baking….multitasking with a tasty outcome!

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