The levels attempt to capture that in a deep field, “people would have varying levels of understanding according to their level of mastery. While people at adjacent levels are able to judge relative competence, there is also a fog of comprehension effect where people separated by multiple levels have difficulty relating to each other.”
I don’t understand either of those communities well enough to describe their scales for you. So I’ll just drop a chart of the levels from ERE and then get on with my nascent thought about productivity.
So in productivity Level 1, or maybe it should be level 0, is someone with no systems who is completely reactive and probably unreliable. Their understanding of productivity is that they work when they are told to work or when something is urgent (the trash is overflowing or there is no food in the fridge).
But let’s say level 2 is someone who uses simple productivity tools like a todo list but isn’t to the point of feeling any sense of control. They have too much to do and either they accept permanent feelings of overwhelm or, just as likely, things don’t get done.
Level 3 is a person who uses productivity tools and tactics to get more done, but who doesn’t avoid the stress of feeling busy. They have optimized for quantity of work.
Level 4 understands that some work is more valuable than other work. This level is characterized by having an ability to say no based on knowing the relative importance of various projects.
Level 5 starts to understand the difference between productivity and being busy. Free time becomes a factor in evaluating the relative value of projects. Delegation is a major skill here.
Level 6 looks beyond the self. Impact on the world is factored into evaluating the value of projects.
Levels 7 & 8 are a mystery to me because I’m too many levels below them.
That’s my first pass. Like I said, it’s a nascent thought. There are a couple of things that stand out to me as missing from the above.
One is flow. That’s the understanding that there is value in the process of productivity not just the output. The concept of flow comes from happiness research. So how you work could be a goal in itself.
Another is the meaninglessness of output. There are probably lessons from Zen, which is beyond my expertise. I’m thinking about desire as the root of suffering. How much of output is driven by desire. So probably one of the higher levels is about de-emphasizing output.