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.