Thursday, March 10, 2016

7 Quick Hacks To Improve Your Productivity

7 Simple Hacks To Better Your Productivity

How do you become more productive?  Is it something that is undefinable or is there a way to improve your productivity?

There are all types of definitions on productivity and various metrics on determining what makes someone more productivity. For example, in Chron magazine, they define the concept of productivity through the metrics of employee output divided by the hours taken to accomplish that specific metric.

1 - Do What You Can Complete The Fastest: 

A task like taking the trash out should only take a couple minutes.  Get it done as early as possible.  The point is to get it done so that it doesn't interfere with your workflow later. Additionally, as discussed on the Simple Programmer blog, doing the easiest tasks first gets small, incremental gains accomplished and gives you momentum toward accomplishing more difficult tasks.

2 - Stop Multi-Tasking:

Concentration and focus are twin engines toward accomplishment.  The idea that we are more productive juggling different tasks is just plain wrong.  Try reading a book while talking about a topic completely disconnected from the material you're reading.  It's an impossible task.  Our brains can't handle that type of input/output effectively, it takes an extra-level of concentration and while you may be able to masterfully handle one of these tasks, you can't master both.

3 - Tackle The Most Difficult First:

There's an article on Lifehacker that details the importance of tackling the most difficult tasks first. In it, the discussion is about knowledge acquisition and how when we first set out to learn something, we read about the details until we grasp them.  Slowly mastery of the subject grows, but the emphasis is on the idea that to learn the concepts on a meta-level, you first need to take on more challenging tasks to learn.  Second, with a finite amount of will power and energy to devote to any particular task, doing the most difficult tasks first will allow you to complete more tasks overall.  Why? Because getting the difficult ones out of the way first, we devote large amounts of energy to them, so that when we get to simpler tasks, we are utilizing an appropriate amounts of will power to those tasks.

4 - Break Large Important Tasks Into Small Ones:

Every marathoner knows that in order to train for a marathon, you have to segment your training into smaller, more manageable distances.  The reasons for this are two-fold: First, it's extremely taxing to run the distances, and Second, the amount of time needed to recover is built-in to this training concepts. You need to think big, act small to better your productivity output.

5 - Use The Pomodoro Technique:

The Pomodoro Technique is a tactic that the person utilizing it sets a timer for a short amount of time, typically 20 minutes.  During the length of time allowed, the person works as intensely as they can and at the conclusion of the timer, they take a short break, typically 5 minutes, from the tasks. This is the 80/20 rule broken into time.

6 - Pace Yourself - Set A Time Limit And Take A Break:

Even as you implement a technique like the Pomodoro one discussed above, research is proving that more productive work is done after an immediate break or vacation. The reason for this is the recovery time allows you to regain energy stores much like an athlete or author.  For the athlete, they know that they have to break down their training into cycles and phase those with proper recovery time.  Ideally recovery needs to be 6x the work load, i.e. 2 hours of work, 12 hours of recovery. Every author knows that while they don't want to break the momentum of their writing, they also need time to think and relax from what the work they were doing previously.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine discusses the importance of breaks influencing productivity. The New York Times emphasized the point even more in their article titled "Relax, You'll Be More Productive!"

One way to recuperate and speed up your recovery time is simple: Get More SLEEP

7 - Don't Believe The Myth Of Hyper-Productivity:

We all have limitations. Limitations can exist in our physical endurance, mental willpower, finances, genetics, even sociability. We also only have the same amount of hours as everyone else.  24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That doesn't mean that you can be productive the entire time.  It's a falsehood, one that is perpetuated by the stereotype of the "Puritan Work Ethic."