These tips are all about anticipating your needs and putting yourself in the best position you possibly can for success every day. After months of sitting in the same position at the same desk, repeating the same actions I definitely started to get a feel of all the little triggers and distractions in their world. A couple of things I learned…
- Note the circumstances you are most productive and feel most productive — learn them, and actively replicate the circumstances that lead to them.
- Some productivity tactics can actually take more time and brainpower than you realize.
- The simple act of consolidating your work can save more time in your day than almost any performance technique or work hack.
1 — Increase the amount of “not wrong” events in your day
With every proactive decision, increase your chance of having a good day by 1%
DO: Actively put yourself in the best possible position you can every day.
I started to realize that the beginning of the day is very important for me and if a couple of things go right — or “not wrong” — there’s a good chance I’ll be in a good mood and ready to work rather than in a bad one and ready to give up and crawl into bed. For example, if I clean up my desk the night before — put all the notepads, sticky notes, and various colored pens and pencils strewn about, away — there’s less of a chance that the next morning when I try to set my morning coffee down I don’t spill it all over said papers and make a mess.
Kind of random, I know. But it definitely happens, and I’d rather anticipate the potential blockers (no matter how small) to me having a good day from the beginning and prevent them. Every time I do, I have a 1% more chance in having another amazing day. Why not?
DON’T: Doubt your ability to push the scale in your favor, toward more positive events in your life.
2 — Minimize the number of choices you need to make
Don’t let productivity tactics become another distraction
DO: Music playlists instead of self streaming songs
Gain all the benefits of listening to music without distraction. When you're busy or thinking through problems, you are making a thousand tiny micro-decisions and hundreds more substantial ones throughout the day (even the hour). The last thing you need is to make additional ones, even for things as simple as the music you’re listening to. I do understand, however, that for some types of work you need to have “good” background music to stay productive or focused.
One free, distraction-free listening experience, I’d recommend is Youtube playlists. A surprising number of Youtuber’s who make music playlists actually don’t monetize their videos on purpose to avoid ads interrupting their viewer’s experience. You could also download an ad blocker on your browser.
With these playlists, you can still get the “energy” or “vibe” you need to work without all the switching artists and flipping through an app literally designed for discovery and interaction.
DON’T: Get sucked into time sinks.
3 — Continuously consolidate your thoughts and ideas
Put all your thoughts in ONE place
DO: Create a master document to brain dump into for every project or to do.
72% of people get creative ideas in the shower — Kaufman
If you’re one of those people who gets their best ideas in the shower, on a walk, while cooking, etc. OR you’re a major multitasker please make it a point to have an easily accessible master document. Add every single idea, thought, or subject you find interesting for whatever you’re working on.
I swear to you, this has saved me SO much time! I have the habit of just opening the notes app on my phone when I get a random spark of an idea. Now, I try to resist the urge and add it to a cloud document that I can access from any device. This takes the same amount of time, but now I won’t forget about it and it’s in a place I don’t have to spend time transferring it out of later (adding another task to my to-do).
This also applies if you’re working in a group, where everyone has different tasks or ideas they’re responsible for. The main points of all those brainstorms, side chats with different group members, etc. should be added to this document AT the time you talk about them. Don’t wait to do it later, or say you’re going to at the end of the project. In my experience, it just causes more stress and makes you busier than you ever were before.
Be active and don’t be afraid of a little mess. The master document might not be the prettiest, but at least all your work is present and accounted for. You can now focus on the project itself, instead of organizing it.
DON’T: Spend your brainpower finding that good idea rather than using it.