Posts Tagged ‘work’

8 Ways to Increase Productivity

Friday, August 14th, 2009

I’m going to try something like a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, because it seems useless to go full-production when I have literally no readership at all. (If you read this, and you want a post every day, by all means say so and I’ll oblige.)

Everyone has those times where they just feel foggy and can’t get any work done. Here are some ideas to help:

  1. Speed-Reading: If you’re anything like most web professionals, you probably subscribe to and/or visit about a million blogs a day. Each of those blogs can have hundreds or thousands of words, and the comments are altogether often longer than the articles they talk about. To cut down the time, try some speed-reading techniques. By reading at 1000 WPM, you can cut down the time it takes to read fifty blogs to about an hour. At first, such intense concentration might drain you, but within a couple days you should find it much easier. Using the middle mouse button to auto-scroll can help, too, because it forces you to keep up, and makes it easier to learn.
  2. Focus: Often, the hardest part of getting anything done is starting. The problem with starting, though, is that it’s not something that’s only done once; you have to re-start every time your attention is pulled away. If you’re used to something like a Twitter client on the side, you can learn to ignore it while you work, but other things, such as constant email notifications, can seriously disrupt your workflow. You need to be able to spend a solid several minutes on things without being interrupted. If necessary, set your twitter/email/etc. to check for new updates every ten or twenty minutes, instead of every five.
  3. Use what you’ve Learned: No matter how much you read, you’re not going to have a very good idea of how things work. The best idea is to use what you’ve learned, either by teaching about the topic or by implementing the techniques you’ve been studying. You’ll quickly realize where the gaps in your knowledge are, and you can fill those in. Afterwards, you’ll end up knowing more about the topic than you would have.
  4. Don’t get Lazy: When you’ve finished speed-reading through your blogs and your emails and your social media, and you’ve written blogs posts and build some new functionality into your projects, and it’s only four hours into the morning, don’t allow yourself to peter off into an afternoon haze. Keep a list of things that need working on, and go through that one-by-one. If you really can’t work anymore, keep a list of things that you’ve been meaning to do, but which are more-or-less mundane: sprucing up old code, reading some pages you had bookmarked for a few months, doing some cleaning, or learning more about those other topic which interest you, but which you’ve never delved into.
  5. Manage Burn-out: Often times, you burn out in one area, as if you were exercising physically. Doing arm curls all day is going to hurt, and isn’t going to get you anywhere. Try engaging your other skills-areas: draw, position things, sort things, create logical arguments, or practice some math. All of these have important applications in the real world, and will help you develop skills in all those areas. Meanwhile, your mind will get an even work-out, and you’ll feel much more limber.
  6. Rest: yes, sometimes it’s necessary to just let go for a while. If you’re tired, you should sleep, so that you’ll be rested up in the morning. No matter how long you stay up, your body needs to sleep for half the time it’s been awake (on average), so you don’t actually gain anything by working when you’re tired. If you find your attention waning, try going for a walk; you can let your mind wander, with nothing else to do, and clear your head. If you get into a position where you aren’t doing anything, which is only really possible away from the computer and internet, you’ll find yourself realizing you know what you want to get done. You’ll have the inspiration to continue work on that project, if you set yourself to it.
  7. Early to Bed and Early to Rise… While it’s not necessarily true that getting up early in the morning is more refreshing, setting some schedules can help greatly. A cluttered schedule leads to a cluttered mind, and you can get so lost that you’ll forget meetings and not know what to do next. Schedules are good, as is change. If you need to, change a few things around so they work better. Witnessing the change between day and night can also change your mood, so experiment with working in the early morning or the late evening.
  8. Reset: This one sounds strange, and you’ll have to figure out how to do this on your own, but sometimes your life is so muddled you need to re-set things so everything fits. Spend a few days keeping awake until it’s impossible to keep your eyes open, and you might realize that your body is pushing you to sleep at a specific time in the day. Try going on a diet, and see how different foods make you feel. Try making a day very physical to see if that refreshes you. By trying everything, you’re bound to find something that helps. Everyone has different needs, and it’s up to you to find out what they are. If you fulfill those needs, you may find your productivity increasing by a tremendous amount!

Hopefully, this list helps you feel better and more energetic about your day. You often don’t need to do anything strenuous, but set some goals and make a commitment, and you’ll find some things get easier.