My Best Advice On Productivity

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s so many gadgets out there to help you be productive, such as software, apps, planners, and systems. But to be honest with you, I’ve found that I tend to use the gadgets as a way of re-shuffling my stuff rather than doing it (it’s a fun way to procrastinate).

Yet productivity is incredibly simple. All it comes down to simply knowing what needs to get done and then…doing it.

Knowing What Needs To Get Done.

It’s counter-intuitive, but knowing what needs to get done at any given moment can get a little complex. Read Getting Things Done by David Allen and you’ll know what I mean. So to keep it simple, just do what my wife does and make a list of everything that needs to get done. I recommend creating the list either the night before or in the morning. Pen/paper works great for most, but if you’re a techy, there’s some great apps out there. I use Nozbe as it integrates with the Getting Things Done system fairly well.

Doing The Work

Have you ever noticed how your work will usually expand to fill the time that you give it? This is called Parkinson’s Law. In other words, you can spend 4 hours cleaning the house on Saturday morning, or you can get the same amount of work done in an hour if you have guests coming over.

Productivity has very little to do with time and everything to do with Focus & Energy. Here’s what I do:

1. Use a Timer

EggTimer is what I use (it’s on right now). This forces me to focus and it keeps my energy level high as I know I only have a specific amount of time to finish what I’m working on.

2. Remove All Distractions

This one is a challenge for me. I work from home, have two kids under the age of two, and my office doesn’t have a door. My solution was to purchase a set of Bose Noise Canceling Headphones. I highly recommend this idea especially if you work in a cubicle or open office environment.

Since music usually distracts me, I’ll listen to rain sounds (www.rainymood.com) or coffee shop background noise (www.coffitivity.com). When I’m just doing tasks and not creating, I’ll sometimes listen to music, but will find 2-3 songs that don’t distract me and just put them on repeat (currently it’s U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Soy” by the Gipsy Kings).

3. Protect Your Energy

You simply cannot be productive if you’re exhausted. Here’s some tips to keep your energy level high:

  • Cut out sugar: Sugar will kill productivity. It’s a great burst of fast energy but it will leave you extremely tired and you’ll feel the need for more sugar to get your energy back.
  • Drink more water: Stay away from energy drinks. Coffee is fine but don’t load it with sugar.
  • Exercise frequently (20-30 minutes 5 times a week will do wonders for your energy level).
  • Get enough sleep. It’s interesting to note that in Genesis, the day began the night before (“And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”) If you go to bed late you’ll ruin your day.

I trust that these tips will equip you to be more productive. Let me know in the comments if you have other helpful tips that have worked for you!

-Wesley

P.S. Get back to work! :)