'Gotta be more productive' might as well be the official mantra of the modern person. You see these type of articles everywhere. Facebook, Medium, and all types of news and business oriented websites are flooded with tips and tricks with how to increase productivity. Is there someone wrong with us all? It could start to seem this way, given the ubiquity of self-help articles for procrastinators. Some folks have even managed to make their careers out of our understanding of the collective laze.
It’s also totally normal. Sorry.
So now that we know it’s totally okay to be bad at productivity, lets take a brief look at some innovative ways to be more productive in this new year of 2017.
Over recent years this method has gained some traction in the blogosphere and beyond, which makes sense as it’s a simple concept and surprisingly effective. Here is the best overview I have come across, the author also includes a link to their own downloadable ebook – which is nice and accessible too.
The basics of the pomodoro method are as follows: Work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, make a checkmark on a piece of paper (or through an app, there are many out there) – rinse and repeat, until you’ve hit four pomodoros (four blocks of 25), then take a 20 minute break. That is the essence of the pomodoro method – it’s about breaking up your work to give yourself little breaks, but more crucially, it’s about giving yourself pockets of time to focus within.
Really? Yes, you’re working too much and it’s crushing your productivity. The pomodoro method outlined above is perfect for thinking about this constructively. We all know in our deepest heart that it’s impossible to be fully dialed in for 8+ hours per day – no matter what we’re doing, it’s just too much. Our brain isn’t designed that way. However, what we can all do is focus for 20% of that time – or around 90 minutes, to put it another way. If you can work with total concentration for 20% of your day – approximately 3.6 pomodoros, you can still make great progress on your goals and priorities.
Don’t confuse this for work
The workplace is full of distractions, some that your co-workers inflict upon you and some of your own doing. There are some tasks that are a part of work life, and everyday life, really, which aren’t advancing you towards your goals. So now is the time to start thinking about work differently.
Here’s a short list of tasks that don’t count as work:
- Internet browsing
- Gossiping with co-workers
- Social media (even if your job requires it, you know what I mean…)
- Texting or phone-time with friends
These are all normal parts of life, they help us break up the day and relax, socialize, build relationships and keep ourselves happy – but they don’t count as work. Email is the most difficult for most to accept as non-work, in my anecdotal experience, as it’s often used for vital communications and needs to be taken care of to ensure smooth operations – this is often true. However, email is also one of those tasks that just needs to be done, in the same way you need to eat food or go to the bathroom. It’s an ever-present task. It’s important to think about these tasks as they are because it’s easy to sink too much of your precious brain-focus time per day on something that might not contribute much to advancing your goals and priorities.