I'm trying out a new psychological trick to be more productive.
Instead of envisioning Maslow's hierarchy of needs as a pyramid, what if self-actualization looked more like a tiered bucket system?
Imagine that self-actualization is a large barrel that is filled each day.
Above the barrel are smaller buckets. There is a tiny bucket for basic needs, and that includes food, water, and sleep. There is a small bucket for psychological needs, such as social connection with friends and family, regardless of virtual or physical. Lastly, there's a medium-sized bucket for activities that bring about a sense of accomplishment.
Each of these smaller buckets, when full, spills over to fill the barrel of self-actualization.
Some days, like yesterday's Christmas party, my self-actualization barrel was filled by the buckets for basic and psychological needs. Because it was a day filled with family, friends, and gluttony, I certainly filled each bucket multiple-times.
Other days, like during finals, my barrel was filled solely by my medium-sized activities bucket, since I definitely lacked sufficient sleep and a social life.
Ideally, I'd like to fill each day's barrel with all three buckets: for basic needs, psychological needs, and accomplishment-filling needs. There will be some days where I can't fill all the buckets and end up using only the small buckets (if I spend too much time being hedonistic), but that's okay.