By Otti Hart
Things can definitely feel a bit weird at the moment under the current state of the pandemic, with remote working enforced worldwide and self-isolation taking its toll. So what better time to focus on nurturing a skill that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
Here’s some tips to help you supercharge your productivity so you’re ending every day with the warm glow of victory!
First things first, intention
Get into the habit of working with intention. Master channelling your planning and analytical skills, before your inner machine-mode to get you speeding through your carefully prioritized tasks.
Psychologically, true intention will give your work purpose and allow you to enjoy it more so you are organically motivated to accomplish those tasks.
According to the 3rd Rule of Conscious Discipline, ‘The Power of Attention’,
“What you focus on, you get more of.”
Practical ways of doing this include starting the day with a well considered plan before jumping into any tasks. Think of what the larger goals you’re working towards are, and then how your short term goals fit into this. It can help you to jot this down in case you lose sight of these later.
With this in mind you can map out, prioritise and set your mind fully on your tasks for the day. Whenever you feel like you’re swerving off course, go back to those long term and short term goals to remind yourself of the bright shining direction that your work is headed in.
According to Juliet Adams’ “Intention Matters”, when your brain has intention considered, it harnesses:
- Attention networks
- Default mode network
- Working memory
- Emotion regulation
- Reward circuits
- Habit formation
Working with intention doesn’t mean your work must align with all your values, but you should identify with the end goal of those tasks in some way so that it is meaningful and rewarding to you.
You will complete your tasks more intelligently with a holistic understanding of them.
"Our intention creates our reality."
Incorporate simple rituals into your work to help you focus on the one task at hand. You may notice how this also intertwines with the first point on intention.
"Whatever (ritual) it is, do it with the intention of creating respect for what you’re about to begin."
Harvard Business Review
For example, allocate a daily ritual to conquer all your emails in one focused swoosh. Choose an email playlist, radio show, cuppa tea, glass of sparkling water, whatever it is that you want to accompany your email victory with and incorporate it into your email routine every time. This will help you stick with these emails and not get distracted. Note, emails will undoubtedly bring other tasks with them. You should have your overall projects and tasks written down when you’ve planned your day so jot down any extra things that come up as you read through your emails.
Another simple ritual you can apply is a few mindful breaths before and after every task or work time slot to start and end your focus.
"Each time we pause, notice, and offer respect for an activity, it reminds us to appreciate and focus on what we’re about to do. And by elevating each activity, we’ll take it more seriously. We’ll get more pleasure from it."
Harvard Business Review
Some developers like to focus on strictly working to time pressure, such as 45 minute chunks of work that they gradually move through over a day with breaks during the intervals. This gives them a sense of achievement once they’ve clocked off afterwards. Others prefer to analyze the goals they want to accomplish in a day, and finish work only once they’ve completed these whether this is at 4pm or 2am.
Remember, maximizing your productivity is about knowing what works for you.
This might mean striking a happy balance between the two where you decide what tasks you will accomplish throughout the day and allocate time periods for these tasks. If you know you can only concentrate for 35 minutes, then break your tasks into chunks. There are zillions of online time management apps out there - from complex visualization ones such as forestapp.cc to simple timers. These can be great for ensuring you stick to your goals.
If you’re one of those robots that can chug away for 3 hours until a task is completed and this is what makes you happy then by all means work with this. Just remember to stay hydrated and eat enough so your brain is charged and you’re not totally exhausted for the next task.
Make sure you’re working to a schedule that motivates you over the long term.
For more tips on structuring your day see our feature on Working Remotely: 3 Winning Ways to Stay Focused.
Say no to meetings!
Imagine, you’re in the middle of a tight coding task, you haven’t quite finished but you can feel the solution coming to light, but suddenly your laptop beeps and you have a meeting in 10 minutes you need to prepare for. Before you know it you’ve forgotten where you are, the meeting ends and you spend the next 20 minutes catching up on your train of thought. Need we say much more, meetings completely destroy momentum. One of a developer’s biggest problems with productivity is not being able to say no to meetings! Instead of breaking up momentum with meetings, block out a few hours in your calendar every day that are dedicated to focused uninterrupted work.
Enjoy implementing these into your daily routines, and reaping the benefits of meaningful work. As always we’d love to hear about your experiences and any topics you'd love to know more about so feel free to reach out to us at the contact link here.