28 September 2011

How to Be Productive

Blindingly Obvious Truths

This is how to be productive. Most of these things are absurdly, staggeringly obvious. That’s kinda my style. Anyway, since not very many of us are the kind that get shit done, we apparently need to be reminded every once in a while. Pin this to your wall—pin it to all of your walls—and look at it to give yourself a mental kick in the ass when you know you should be working.

Get out of bed.

If, like me, you have delayed sleep phase syndrome, then fix it. If it’s hard to get up when the sun comes up, then your sleep schedule is probably not healthy, and it is negatively affecting your productivity. We are a diurnal species. Deal with it.

Be healthy.

It ought to go without saying that you need good diet and exercise habits to be healthy. What you may not realise is that health is happiness, and for many of us, happiness is productivity. (I can’t say all, because surely there are some dark tormented programmers out there whose work is fueled by the darkness and torment in their dark tormented souls of tormentful darkfulness. Or something.)

For instance, when my blood sugar is low, I hate the world—then I eat a sandwich and everything’s fine. If you feel like hell all the time, your body is probably trying to tell you something. Sleep right, eat well, exercise occasionally, spend time with friends, find a mate, and mate with them often.

Work on one thing.

Multitasking is doing many things at once—badly. Innumerable studies have shown that multitaskers are just fooling themselves into believing they’re improving their productivity. You can be a true “jack of all trades” if you work on one thing at a time. Don’t distract yourself from what you’re working on with thoughts of what you’re not working on. It’s an endless cycle of self-subversion that can only be broken with focus.

If I want to write a blarticle, I just do it. If I need to do homework, I just—well, okay, first I complain a lot, but then I just do it. I didn’t post a vlog entry for months, and then I said “no, this will not do” and made something. It was shitty. It doesn’t matter. I did it.

Work till you’re done.

Have a project that needs finishing? Don’t waste your valuable time making small changes. Get your hands dirty and implement that feature you want. No one else is going to do it, and you have the time. It probably won’t even be as hard as you think. If it seems guaranteed to be difficult, you might be fixating on a difficult solution when there is a much simpler one. Reflect.

When you’re done, stop.

You must take time to relax and play. If you work hard, you earn the right to relax hard. You will feel the profound satisfaction that comes from creating something through your own focused efforts, and your sleep will be easy and deep.

Now go, and do.