Michael Ashcroft

March 25, 2021

Revenge Productivity — and navigating its absence

You know that experience where you had a long day at work so you stay up way later than you probably should? It has a name — “Revenge Bedtime Procrastination”, based on the Chinese 報復性熬夜 (Bàofù xìng áoyè).

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is an attempt to exert control over one part of life (the night) given the absence of control over another (the day).

I am coining its opposite: Revenge Productivity.

I have been a free agent for coming up on two months now. I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect my motivation for creative output to plummet. I hoped that, given all my extra free time and headspace once liberated from the concerns of work, I would be much more creative.


It’s taken me a while to figure out, but I think I get it now. I was creatively productive around the edges of a full time job that I didn’t enjoy all that much because I had so little time and headspace to commit to my own stuff.

I was so prolific and focused in the mornings, lunchtimes, evenings and weekends as a kind of ‘fuck you’ to the imposition of the job in my life. I was motivated by Revenge Productivity.

And then the job went away.

I didn’t realise that, even though I had a removed a major source of creative friction from my life, I had also lost a key source of motivation, however warped. What I’m navigating now is how to create new, more resilient and intrinsic sources of motivation.

I’m glad I’ve seen this. In retrospect this was inevitable — now I get to explore how to be creative in this new frame.

My janky Youtube setup in my old flat — after work mode