How can I be more productive? It’s a question on everyone’s mind. Most current ideas about productivity involve changing everything you do, using the latest smartphone app, or outsourcing your administrative tasks.
While there is certainly value in some of those ideas, most people can start by examining what they already know about themselves. This introspection will help target how you can be the most productive.
Each person will be different, but when I try to focus my efforts, I look at these three factors:
Time: Night owl? Early bird? Afternoon delight? (Well, maybe not that last one.) I am more focused at night, and often my strokes of creativity happen well after dark. Knowing this, I plan my workday and sleep schedule to use that to my advantage. I try to schedule time for specific work into my calendar so I know I’ll have the dedicated time to focus on specific work.
Environment: Library quiet? Or coffee shop background noise? Music, or not? Bright lights or the sole glow (not Soul Glo) of a computer screen? My go-to is bright lights and music. I go crazy in library quiet (the result of growing up with five siblings!), and can’t focus with the activity of a coffee shop. When I perform administrative tasks, I listen to podcasts. When I’m responding to emails or writing, I prefer upbeat music with lyrics. Right now, I’m listening to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “A Jackknife to a Swan“. When I really need to focus, I play some calm jazz or classical music with no lyrics.
Idea Generation: Shower, driving, or pillow? These are three locations or activities that seem to get my creative juices bubbling. We can’t control when an idea strikes, but we can make sure we don’t lose the idea. I use pneumonic devices to remember ideas that hit me in the shower. I use the voice recorder app on my phone while driving. And I keep my phone and a notepad and pen on my nightstand to quickly jot down any idea that comes right before bed.
By understanding how these factors support or limit your own productivity, you’ll be able to maximize your capacity to do creative, focused, and shareable work.
What did I miss? What helps you be more productive?
Album Cover Art courtesy of www.bosstonesmusic.com