MDD – Motivational Deficit Disorder

Last week, I had a bad bout of MDD — Motivational Deficit Disorder.

MDD is characterized by difficulty focusing, short attention span, and general lassitude.

Okay. I made up MDD. But I had all the symptoms.

I was present and accounted for in my office eight hours a day, but really, I didn’t get a whole lot done. I spent a lot of time checking email, reading the paper, wandering around the internet, and playing with my dog.

Once I started a task –my newsletter, insights, will go out in July as planned!– I was able to finish it, but boy-oh-boy it was hard to get started.

Now that I’ve recovered, I’m reflecting my week of MDD.

1) Any one who thinks car-in-parking-lot or butt-in-seat is a proxy measurement for productivity is fooling him/herself. It is entirely possible to be in the office and accomplish nothing. It’s even possible to look busy much of the time and get nothing worthwhile done.

If you want to know about productivity, measure results.

2) I suspect that one of the reasons I succumbed to MDD last week was lack of down time. I have been working steadily for weeks. I’ve had some big projects and pressing deadlines. The week before last I attended and presented at the IAF conference, which lasted through the weekend. So I didn’t even have the weekend off.

When people don’t have formal down time — weekends and vacations — they take downtime in situ, while logging butt-in-seat time in the office. It may look like someone is working extra hours but they probably aren’t getting as much done as they would working 40 hours a week with evenings and weekends off. (There’s also the matter of increased errors due to fatigue, which will reduce productivity further).

If you want productivity, ensure people are working at a sustainable pace and have adequate time off.

3) Most humans, even goal driven humans, occasionally succumb to MDD. That’s life. Individual productivity varies.