Is it me or all productivity articles are the same?
Swallow the frogs first thing in the morning. Check emails twice a day only. Write your to-do list for the next day the night before.
It’s the ABC of productivity. The basics you need to master before you can move to the next level.
I’m not kidding. You can drink 3 green juices a day to keep your energy up, learn to type 10x faster to get more writing done and turn off all notifications from your phone so you won’t be sucked into the Facebook (or is it Instagram, these days?) hole every 5 minutes but if you use the extra time you gained to work on the wrong things, you won’t achieve your goals.
Don’t run before you can walk. Master the basics of productivity first.
But what if you’ve already done all that and are ready to go to the next level? That’s when it gets weird.
You know what they say… the real breakthroughs happen when you think outside the box. So here are 3 unusual productivity tips that’ll make you go “What the…?” but really work.
Try them if you don’t believe me. 😉
1. The Tomato Technique
Have you ever noticed that the more time you have to finish a task the longer it takes you to do it?
I remember when I used to write the blog for an American beauty brand. They’d post a new article every Monday so they asked me to file in a new draft by Sunday evening at the latest.
I’ve been writing about beauty for 10 years now so I know the topic like the back of my hand. Unless I need quotes from derms or brand founders, I can write, edit and format an entire article in less than 5 hours. So why did I ALWAYS start writing it on Sunday morning?!
I knew I had plenty of time to do it. It wasn’t urgent until the deadline loomed dangerously close.
It’s Parkinson’s law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
So don’t give yourself much time to finish it in the first place. And that’s where the tomatoes come in.
The Italian word for tomato is “pomodoro.” The Pomodoro technique breaks down your workday into 25 minute chuks separated by 5 minute breaks.
Here’s how it works: you pick a task, like writing an article. You set a timer for 25 minutes and get down to writing. Once time is up, you take a quick 5 minute break.
Lather, rinse, repeat until the task is done. If it usually takes 8 hours to write an article, with the Pomodoro technique, you’ll get it done in 4.
P.S. You can make your work segments longer than 25 minutes. Just don’t make them too long. Your brain needs time to rest or you’ll get too overwhelmed and tired quickly. And then you’re back at square one.
P.P.S. If you’re old-fashioned like me and prefer paper planners, get yourself the Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change. It divides each task into 5 Pomodoro breaks so you can keep track of exactly how much time you’re spending on it.
2. Optimize Your Workspace
June was the worst month at school. My desk was just near the big, full-wall window. The blistering sun hit me right in the face. Its heat made me sweat buckets, even if I wasn’t moving.
An hour later, I was so drowsy, I could barely keep my eyes open. I tried to pay attention to what the teacher was saying but her words made no sense to me anymore.
Not exactly an environment conducive to learning.
You may have the best intentions but if your environment is working against you, you won’t get much done.
I’m not just talking about the mess on your desk. Clearing that up helps, but it’s not the only way you can optimize your environment. Here are a few more ideas:
- Adjust the temperature so the room is never too hot or too cold
- Add more natural light or switch to bulbs that produce a softer light
- Block out noises (get a white noise machine, if you must)
- Get a comfortable chair
- Make sure you have all your files, tools and everything you need at hand (and that they’re easy to find!)
3. Replace Your Technology
Buying an iPhone was the best thing I ever did.
I didn’t want to. I agonized over it for months. Like, do I really want to spend £700 on a phone?! I could go on holiday in Thailand for that money. Or buy 4 pairs of Charlotte Olympia shoes (at a sample sale). It seemed such stupid money to spend on a phone.
Except… I had spent way more on phones in the past. Oh, I’d go for a cheap Samsung or Nokia and pride myself on how thrifty I was.
I’d start downloading my social media apps, take a few photos and… “What do you mean I’m running out of space and need to delete something?”
I’d get that nagging error every single day. It was all the more annoying because my phone was loaded with Google apps I never used but couldn’t delete (thanks, Google!).
And the speed… 6 months later my phone was crawling more slowly than a snail. Forget about taking new photos. Even uploading a new one on Instagram took 10 bloody minutes.
And why the heck did my phone keep crashing all the time?!
I couldn’t work like this. Every single task was taking at least 10 minutes longer than it should have, making me waste valuable time and destroying my sanity.
I knew that if I got another Android phone, I would be in the same place within a year. I had been there before. I had spent a small fortune changing my phone every few months. So, an iPhone it was. I never looked back.
These days, I don’t skimp on technology. After the iPhone, I invested in a Macbook Pro and bought a new camera as well.
If you have a computer that’s constantly rebooting, a phone that keeps freezing or a piece of technology that’s terribly slow/outdated/beyond repair, replace it.
It may cost you a pretty penny at the beginning, but you’ll make that money 10x once you have tools that work with you, not against you.
Over to you, now. What unusual productivity tips work well for you? Share them in the comments below.