Yarn Along – Something New, and the Productivity Project

Every Wednesday I participate in “Yarn Along”, a link-up run by Ginny over at Small Things where we share what we are knitting and reading this week. You can click the Yarn Along image at the end of this post to see the whole link-up. You can also find Yarn Along photos on Instagram (#yarnalong) and Flickr.


I recently started a “memory shawl” to use up a chunk of the yarn I bought in Scotland during my 2012 backpacking trip. One skein into the shawl I realized I likely wouldn’t wear it, since some of the wool was too scratchy to wear near my neck. The Garter Squish blanket pattern caught my eye, but I didn’t have enough “souvenir” yarn in the right weight to pull it off. Instead, I took inspiration from the pattern and cast on roughly the width of a large pillow to make a “memory pillow cover”. The plan is to knit a large rectangle that is twice as long as it is wide, and then sew it into a square and stuff a pillow form inside. I may have to sew a liner, since the gauge is coming out quite loose. I erred on the large size since I can take in any extra fabric or pad the pillow form if necessary. I have no idea if I have the right amount of yarn for this project or if I’m going to like the end result, but that is part of the fun. It is also very gratifying to see how quickly the knitting grows on such large needles!

I discovered Chris Bailey’s blog awhile ago, and immediately put his book The Productivity Project on hold at the library. It finally came available right before I left for Christmas break. Bailey spent a year doing experiments on himself to determine what changes actually made him more productive. He also lives in the same city as me (Ottawa, Canada), which made the book immediately more intriguing. I’ve enjoyed the odd reference to places in Ottawa that I know and love.

I used to be very interested in productivity, but over time I found that led to an internal pressure to work, and produce, as much as possible. Exploring simple living has helped me pull back from that. I find simple living and productivity to be complementary ideas, since both emphasize working smarter, not harder. Bailey comes at productivity from the same “work smarter” perspective. His book is full of straightforward advice on how to increase your productivity, including some less intuitive aspects. He advocates for taking breaks, limiting your work hours and disconnecting from your smartphone because all of those things make you more productive. Of course, they also have the side benefit of improving your quality of life. I’m enjoying this more “holistic” look at productivity, although I doubt Bailey would ever describe it as such. Some of the content is a repetition of the existing productivity wisdom, but there were a few new ideas that I have found valuable. Having all these ideas boiled down into one book is helpful, and Bailey’s personal evidence from his productivity experiments are convincing. This would certainly be a good read for anyone looking for an introduction into productivity best practices, or anyone looking for a few new tips to up their game.

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