Our sense of being productive usually comes from measuring quantity or quality of a task. That doesn't always help, though. Here's a better approach: train your mind to equate starting a task with feeling productive.
Photo by Andrew Hurley
Redditor theNicky explains the idea:
Try to re-train your sense of success to come from starting. Don't worry at all about how much time you put in. Don't set any expectations. Just start. If you start and stop, no worries. Take a break and try starting again. Every time you start is an opportunity to get in the zone so give yourself as many opportunities as possible.
I use a similar approach to my work, after having learned lessons the hard way. When I was focused, my productivity skyrocketed and I started using that as the unit to measure my output. If I wasn't writing as many articles or earning as much money, it meant I wasn't being as productive as I could be. It's a cycle of increasingly difficult benchmarks and lots of beating yourself up, to a point where you get paralysed into inaction when the benchmark is too high and you have no chance of meeting it.
Over the past few months, I changed my approach to "Just start, that's good enough." More often than not, once I start, I maintain momentum and finish, whereas earlier I wouldn't start because it seemed futile compared to the high peak I had to climb.
So think of the act of starting as the measurement of being productive. If you have work to do and you start, you're having a productive day; if you aren't starting, it's not a productive day.
Dealing With Productivity Momentum [Reddit]