My name is Natalia Bielczyk. I have a passion for writing! In daily life I am a Founder, Director & Chairperson @ Stichting Solaris Onderzoek en Ontwikkeling, and an Owner @ Welcome Solutions. I am also just completing my PhD thesis within the Donders Graduate School, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


‘Productive’. A simple word, however the it bells in my ears like a threat. In Poland, no one around me was ever describing themselves as productive. Could be motivated or bored, could have a flow or not, but ‘productive’ was not in anyone’s personal vocabulary. In the Netherlands, I hear this expression quite often though, which might be due to the competitive nature of science in here. People around seem to be quite obsessed with the concept of productivity. And, every time I hear about it, I always start wondering: am I productive? What if not? Maybe it is counterproductive to even think about productivity? And so on and so on.

I finally decided to do something about this fear of productivity, and I just read a bestseller book ‘Getting things done’ by David Allen. Well, it all boils down to the ‘mind like water’ principle - the ability to generate power is proportional to the ability to relax. And, in order to relax, it is better to stick all the to-do list somewhere outside your head. The rules are quite intuitive once you read through them. Of course, you need to review your to-do lists (best if it was once a week) and, of course, you need to try to shorten these lists with respect to how much horsepower you have at the moment. That’s also why I only program in the mornings - I slow down in the afternoon, so that time is better for other activities such as phone calls and figuring out logistics.

Funny enough, I observe that most people in my office building are using Google schedule for scheduling their activities week by week, and I thought that maybe, this is the way to do it. For me, a bare schedule doesn't make sense though - better to make a brief list of must-to-attend events, and a list of must-to-do-tasks in between these events since the latter list is way longer, and the time it needs to accomplish any of the points is not truly known. So, currently my schedule consists of lists only, not of slots with tasks assigned to them.

I think one particular thing I can get out of the Allen’s book is: do weekly revision, with an iron consequence. It allows to shorten down the list easily once you notice at least a few quite quick tasks to run through. And also: do everything you can to let go of tasks stacked in the back of your head. A mental hygiene, so to speak.

All these exams

The truth