Apalla #31 – Productivity, Part 1

As you might have been able to read, this new series is on productivity. We’ll split this one over two episodes: working and scheduling. We’ll do working first, since it’s a more general skill as compared to scheduling. 

Defined simply, productivity is the amount of meaningful work you do per unit of time. Because of this, when we look at working, we want to maximize this ratio.

We can do this two ways. One way is to expand the amount of time we’re doing work. This could involve using small moments where you’d traditionally be unproductive, and making them productive. For example, if you take an Uber to work, you can use the time in the Uber to catch up on emails or read a book. 

Another way is to increase the quality of the work that you’re already doing. Notice that, in my original definition, I said meaningful work and not just work. While checking your email or reading a book could be meaningful, it does not have a 100% chance to be so. So, in this alternate method, we make sure that the work we do is meaningful. A good example of this is to set times of specific focus to develop high quality work, either through using a pomodoro timer (to set specific times of work and rest) or by minimizing outside distractions (such as phone notifications or social media).

I have two more miscellaneous tips to end us off. One has to do with improving quality. A wise man once said to carve a stone until it is perfect. But a wiser man said to carve many stones and find what is perfect. Typically, the rule of work is quantity over quality — this seems perhaps a bit contradictory, but take in mind that every time you make something you can review your own performance and then apply those qualities to the next iteration. In most cases, this is a more efficient way to do things!

My last tip for you when it comes to working has to do with fatigue and brain stimulation. Typically when we aren’t productive, it’s because our brain is fatigued (i.e. unstimulated) and we either don’t want to work or we put out schlock to get it over with. I’ve tried a few different methods of staving this off, and by far the one that works best for me is rotation — that is, going through a small set of distinctly different tasks over a set time period to “keep things interesting”. I recommend setting up three different things you need to get done, setting a pomodoro timer, and then after every rest switching to the next task up in your rotation of three.

Well, that’s all for part one. Like I mentioned, next episode will be all about scheduling! Stay tuned!

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