I gotta say, I’ve been a horrible doer the past week. I realized I was sitting in front of my computer, using my smartphone to chat with my friends, then get motivated to work on the computer, wasting time on Facebook, answering some calls, and finally finding out it’s lunch time. I can’t describe how frustrated I was when I looked back and measured my productivity that day. A few days ago I stumbled upon this article, that made me think again about being productive and left me with some important insights.
If you’re like me, I guess you’ve found yourself in an unproductive phase once or twice. I hope you would find my conclusions and tips helpful.
Divide and rule
First thing is dividing the stimulations. I thought I can handle more than one source of attention, but actually it’s just making me being bad at many things at the same time, instead of doing something good. No phone and computer, and no talking while working. Music is an exception, but it’s a risk too, so pick your tunes right (Remember?).
Let your friends know
We all have our best friends chat group, in which we chatter nonstop for the whole day (at least I know I have). Groups, as well as regular personal chats, are totally fun, but they slow you down during your work. You should be able to tell your friends you’ll become less active and vital, because during work hours you need to focus on working. I’m sure they’ll understand. Of course, in addition to telling your friends you’re working, you should actually work.
Let go of your smartphone!!!
For the past several years phones became smarter and people became dumber. Instead of using our phones to help us accomplish day to day tasks, we let our phones distract us during our tasks. There are days that I’m checking my phone once every few minutes. This really gets me out of focus. It doesn’t matter how well I work while I’m holding my phone, I’m performing better without it. Nothing bad will happen if my phone will be faced down or turned off for a while.
If you’re having trouble leaving your phone alone, there are apps like Forest, that encourages you to not use your phone for a long period of time by planting a virtual tree. In order to make the tree grow, you need to not use your phone for a certain amount of time. After you grew your tree, you can plant other trees and have a forest. That’s actually really fun and the app’s gamification makes it really fun to (not) participate.
Digital era made us impatient. Everything is instant now and we can’t wait for anything. That makes us stressed and that really hurts our ability to concentrate and give attention. In order to fight this, I started photographing with an analog SLR camera. No previews, no instant results and a lot to learn. That really teaches me about patience. Also, I’ve noticed writing something in a physical notebook helps me focus on it more than writing it in my computer or my phone. I think the reason for that is the simple fact that a paper does not have WiFi connection. No matter how fancy or advanced my notebook is, I can’t answer a text or receive a push notification on my piece of paper, and that keeps me focused. I’m in control and no update is going to take it from me. I also think physical writing takes more effort, and thus you’ll respect the result a little more than a digital result.
I know, sounds like a total cliché, but even if you’re the hardest worker you have to know when to stop and breath. Take a break and go for a walk, call your best friend or just chill. Make sure you’re not taking a one-hour break every 15 minutes though (guilty). A good principle for work-to-break ratio is the Pomodoro technique, that generally says you should work for 25 minutes continuously and undistracted, and then take a short break(3–5 minutes).
I’ve heard too many people (including myself) saying they have ADHD, and I think it’s the result of the world being too instant. If we want to be productive we need to stop, take a step back, disconnect from our instant distractions, and focus on our main goal – studying, working, painting, whatever. These are just some insights I had for the past week. If you find these methods effective, or if you have any alternatives, please let me know in the comments!