The average employee does somewhere between 1.5 to 5 hours af actual work per day, depending on whose survey you trust. Let's say people do three hours of actual focused work. That's sixty hours of actual work per month.
If you're in a boring job and you're content to dick around and waste time, that's fine. But if your future actually depends on your output, you need to do better.
For the past six weeks I've averaged over ten hours a day of quality work, seven days a week. This is the longest period of time I've sustained this high a level of productivity, and I've found that the method of achieving it is extremely simple. Here's my method.
1. Clear every possible distraction.
Put your cell phone into airplane mode and put it behind you somewhere, out of reach. Close your email program, IM program, and anything else that can possibly give you a notification.
Remove everything from your field of vision that is not work related, except for a glass of water or tea. That means that all non-work windows on your laptop should be closed, and that there shouldn't be anything on your desk.
If you want to listen to music, put on classical.
2. Plan Properly
Make a list of work that should take you about 20 hours to do. I've found that one of the biggest things that derails me is trying to figure out what I should do next. I end up surfing around my project trying to find little things to tweak. Instead, spend fifteen or twenty minutes outlining everything you can think of that could be done. Ten hours isn't enough, because you will be working very efficiently and will probably get way more done than you're expecting.
Eat one meal right before working. You'll need to eat another meal during the ten hours, so prepare it beforehand. This might sound stupid, but I'm always amazed at how much time it takes for me to figure out what to eat, go buy it or prepare it, consume it, and then clean up. Now I try to have a couple sandwiches ready and I eat them while I work. When I'm done I put the plate out of sight and keep working.
Work hard for ten hours. I actually think that ten hours is conservative and a low amount of time to work. There are many days where I work 12 or 14 hours. If you have a project that can benefit from lots of work and you aren't putting that work in, then you aren't actually serious about your project.
If you need a break, sit back, close your eyes, and think about your project. Or sit and listen to your classical music for a song or two. Or just be hardcore about things and push yourself to keep working.
When I take breaks, I do other work. I've been programming for seven hours now, so I took a break to write this post. In a minute I'm going to save it and get back to programming.
The more experience I build and the more work I actually put in, the more drawn I am to the conclusion that it's stupid to be anything but hard core about your work. Nothing is going to become a big success without a huge amount of work. Either put it in and give yourself a shot at success, or stop kidding yourself and go have fun. The middle route of working in a haphhazard fashion deprives you of any real chance at success as well as the chance to have fun.
Photo is a cool wall in Shanghai. I can never figure out what to use for the picture for posts like this.
I'm hoping to have SETT running on this blog within a month or so.
I'm sorry but I believe there's more to life than productivity.
"If you're in a boring job and you're content to dick around and waste time, that's fine. But if your future actually depends on your output, you need to do better." Tynan already answered that so please don't bring the morale down of the people who want to make something out of themselves. Thank you.
Hmm I have an on-going war with my productivity. It's challenging since I work from home and have a lot of flexibility on what I work on, but I am can also be constantly interrupted at any moment. I think on some subconscious level, I hate doing projects during my job hours just because of the possibility of disruption.
I also read this recently which was pretty enlightening:
She also recommends definitely having some outline plan of what you're going to do. And I noticed just having a numbered checklist of what to do every day really helps. No brain processing power needed to figure out, Should I do X or Y first?
Hey man thanks for that link. . I do music and magic and I have been trying to find an ideal work schedule to be highly productive( and actually making tangible changes) daily. I have been writing a progress journal of what works when i make my music and last week i started doing one for magic. . . one thing though is that the persistence in keeping up with this ish is tough . .glad to see some peeps out there who are successful writing about what I am going through somewhere where i am..
This post is really helpful and a good motivation for me and I shall show it to my friends and I know they will definitely agree!!
[url=http://maps.google.com/maps/place?q=BBEX+Marketing&hl=en&cid=11284026263053911262]SEO company boca raton[/url]
Have you guys checked out the comment section of the http://atroundtable.com/blogging site. It's very interactive and very good to carry out a dialog
The premise of GTD is trying to keep a mental to-do list has such a high cognitive overhead it ruins productivity. They say, if you have an idea for another important thing to do, if it takes less than a couple minutes, do it immediately, otherwise capture it (write it down, voice record it, whatever your system) in your inbox and immediately get back on task.
Whenever I'm trying to focus on a project, I always have ideas for other stuff to do - offshoots of the work in front of me, or completely unrelated.
Does this happen to you? How do you deal with it? Do you quickly write down or voice record these thoughts for later investigation, or do you have the discipline to cast them aside, trusting that they will reappear if important?
If you haven't read Csikszentmihalyi (sp?) stuff on Flow, he's the eminent academic on this stuff. The Getting Things Done guys get it, too.
For me a huge part of it is simply caring about what I'm working on. I think most people in salaried jobs just frankly don't care that much about the work they're doing - they don't feel a strong imperative to get it done. For creative professionals (really, anyone not doing totally straightforward assembly-line work) the usual external incentives don't work (see Dan Pink's stuff on this.)
For me, something interesting I haven't really explored as much as I'd like is the idea of, uh, proximal voluntarism? That's a terrible name for it, but the fact is, EVERYTHING I do in life is "voluntary" in the sense that I could choose not to do it. I have ultimate control of my life in the sense that I can end it at any time, so everything I do is voluntary.
But everything doesn't FEEL voluntary. It doesn't feel like I'm making a voluntary choice when I go into work on a day when I'm in a terrible mood or really just want to go daydreaming. It's a consequence of a voluntary commitment I made, but it was a while ago.
If you frame day-to-day life as the fulfillment of a variety of ongoing commitments, and the occasional decision to accept a new commitment, then I think the sense that a commitment is voluntary fades - at least, for me it does - the further you get from the commitment point.
If it's something I'm still constantly thrilled about, then I guess it doesn't count, but for example a couple years into college, it felt like a totally oppressive burden, despite my constant conscious knowledge that it was a decision I'd made, and I could make the choice to leave. The weight of consistency, time invested, expectations of others, and my own personal fear and habituation combine to form what I'd call "inertia", the inertia that kept me there.
It certainly wasn't the degree, because I left without one - but I left after the appointed four years. Leaving earlier would have constituted an event. People would have asked why I was "dropping out." Leaving after the full four years but, uh, not actually having a degree, I'm not considered a dropout. But I also spent more of my time there than I wish I had. Inertia.
I think there's huge value in trying to structure my life in ways that keep those decision points close, so I am constantly reaffirming the choices and refreshing that sense that "Yes, this is a voluntary thing I am choosing every day to do."
Maybe some of that is just exercising the choice regularly to keep it fresh in my mind - Yes, I can do this, because I prove it to myself all the time.
I'm sitting at my desk in my RV. It's nice out, but the RV is in direct sunlight, so it's hot inside. The fan is on maximum speed, which cools me down a little bit at the cost of it being really loud. Two seconds ago I checked my email. I also checked my email ten seconds ago. Thirty seconds ago I thought about how I should make lunch, even though I've already eaten lunch. In other words, my mind is doing everything it can to avoid writing.
I'm not really in the mood to work, but I'm even less inclined to write. When my mind is in programming mode, I find it very difficult to switch from talking-to-computers mode to talking-to-humans mode. Last week, as you may have noticed, I didn't post anything. I slapped together a post, read it over, decided it was really crappy, and just skipped the week.
Now I'm writing, though, and I'll tell you why.
I'd like to introduce a secondary project I'm working on, which is a health one. I've been living a relatively sedentary lifestyle as of late. I haven't been shoveling down ice cream and hiding in my apartment, but I have been spending much more time sitting than I used to. The weather is very cold here in Zhengzhou, so my old habit of going on periodic walks has fallen off. Also, going out to get groceries or food has been hard to summon energy for as that requires bundling up and braving the cold. This has had the positive effect of keeping me from eating out all of the time (which my wallet thanks me for), but in search of convenience I replaced that food with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Only PB&J, with a banana or apple here and there, is hardly a balanced or healthy diet. My one saving grace up to this point has been my teaching job, which keeps me up and active and supplies me with more variety in my diet at breakfast. Nonetheless, the time has come for me to make some changes to eat better and get more active. Here is my plan to become healthier over the next six weeks. I figure action is better than conversation so I actually started this little up two weeks ago. I'm currently in week 3, but I thought I'd share my plan in its entirety.
Week 1: Start cooking for myself Quite a while back I had a friend who was a body-builder. "90% of your workout takes place before you ever go to the gym," was his mantra. Your exercise and health are built on what you consume, so this first week focused on getting my diet back into shape. The primary rule for this period was no PB&J. This has helped me seek variety in my diet and break me out of my existing rut. Also at the beginning of this week I set a goal to cook for myself at least once and shoot for at least one hand made meal every week. This target was incredibly easily me, which was the point of setting the target so low. I've picked up two extremely simple recipes that have become new staples and replaced PB&J entirely. I couldn't be happier with how this side of things has been going. Multiple times over the last week and this one I have had either an egg and tomato dish, which I picked up from local cuisine, or a cauliflower lower mash pulled from the 4-hour chef. So, right out the gate I'm getting more, complete protein and veggies not to mention healthier carbs. My only issue here in week 3 is that I'm craving even more variety and so need to figure out another simple staple dish. Quite the good problem to have since I'm looking for variety in my diet ;)
Week 2: Shaking the dust off Week 2 was all based off of the Zenhabits approach to exercise. Zenhabits is all about starting small, fitness is a part of life that is helped by this more than anything. The blog's writer Leo Babauta suggests doing a simple set of an exercise at random intervals through the day. The idea is to do them whenever they pop into your head. Been sitting for a while? Do ten squats. Just get up? Do ten pushups, etc. Following suit, this week has been dedicated to seeing little opportunities to get my blood pumping and doing so. As I've found myself in a marathon session in front of my computer, I've jumped up and done ten squats or ten pushups. Just yesterday I did twenty squats and forty pushups, all scattered throughout the day in bite-sized portions. Judging by how my arms felt this morning I'm doing a little more than breaking even when weighed against all of the hours of sitting in my off-time.
Week 3-6 The blitz The first two weeks were designed to laying the ground work for the main event of this project, which is a physical blitz. This will take the form of one of those get-fit-quick video series in the vein of the Insanity program. I have always wondered if these things really work, and if my run-through this morning is any indicator, they make for quite the workout. I have always had more interest in functional fitness (such as that which builds stamina) over aesthetic fitness (that which makes you cut), but I am very curious to see how the program makes me feel by the time I reach the end. The exercises only take around half hour a day for 4 weeks, so the exercise won't dominate all of my time. I'll simply follow a workout schedule and enjoy the ride through a workout regimen I don't have to think about too hard. After starting today I'm excited to see where this monkey-see, mokey-do method of exercise gets me.
After the blitz After this little blitz of mine I'll attempt to take my running habit back up. The weather here in sunny Zhengzhou is at its lowest here in January, so by next month it should be more bearable to workout outside. I'm very interested to see how the video series effects my stamina as well as my muscle tone, so trying to go for a long jog after a day's break will do a great job of that. With taking my endurance training back up I'll set some targets, goals, time frames, etc. but for now it's time to blitz my way back into running shape!