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The biology of productivity?

I’ve been reading the book, “Why we get fat” by Gary Taubes. If you’re interested in understanding the relationship between eating and getting fat, then you must read the book. It could change your life.

The revelation of the book is that some common dietary beliefs are, as demonstrated by science & biology, complete inverted. And that got me thinking about possible parallels in other areas, such as productivity.

Turning what we thought, upside down.

In a nutshell, the message of the book is that fat is accumulated in the body through a meticulous regulation system controlled by insulin. We get fat when this regulation system is thrown off balance, which happens when we consume sugars — both simple (sweets), and complex (breads, pastas, starchy vegetables like potatoes, etc.)

(As an aside, the book provides the scientific basis from which the Paleo diet arose. I’ve been on the Paleo diet for 1.5 years, and have never been leaner, stronger or felt better in my life.)

What’s truly striking in the book, is the scientific demonstration of the complete inversion of a common belief that we get fat because we overeat:

We do not get fat because we overeat; we overeat because we’re getting fat.

Eating sugars and carbs causes our insulin system to promote the accumulation of fat in our bodies, which, in turn, drives us to eat more. It’s not the number of calories; it’s the source. This is a very powerful and important notion.

The biology of productivity?

It’s humbling to be presented with the reality that something that seemed so common-sense — that we get fat because we overeat — is incorrect. This got me thinking whether there are other areas in life where some of our common-sense assumptions could be wrong.

Take productivity, for example. Many of us often feel we’re not productive, because we’re unmotivated. I wonder whether any parallels to diet could be found?

I wonder whether, in fact, we’re actually unmotivated because we’re not working. What causes us to not to work? Procrastination? What helps us procrastinate? Interruptions? My feeling is that there could be a relation between motivation, productivity, procrastination and interruption. In my case, it certainly feels like interruptions are the sink needed by procrastination.

To remain lean, we need to prevent excess sugar levels in our blood, in order to avoid excess insulin production. Preventing excess insulin production keeps the body primarily using fatty acids for fuel, preventing triglyceride fats from being stored (making us fat).

Perhaps a parallel in productivity is that to remain motivated (lean), we need to work (use fat for our fuel). To maintain productive work, we need to prevent procrastination (the insulin that promotes fat storage, instead of making productive use of it), and to prevent procrastination, we need to avoid interruptions (the sugar that regulates the procrastination).

Perhaps it’s that simple. Then again, perhaps I’m completely off my rocker!

Published inProductivity

One Comment

  1. Kari Kari

    Hi Matt!

    I completeley agree your toughts. I get so much more done when I can concentrate a longer period without interruptions. It is so different feeling when I give a spinning or some other training class and fully concentrate to give my informations to people who are concentrated too. If there come too big interruptions during the class, there comes a feeling that we need to start all over again. This happends also when I was a DJ and the evening was going well and then suddenly I played wrong song. The feelings went down and I must start to build feelings back again.
    And now with all this multitasking it is too easy to loose concentration and start do something else than it was meant. Hmmm… but now I got some ideas to handle better some interruptions.



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