Everyone knows time is very scarce and valuable resource, as we can always get more money but we can’t have more time. An hour we spent can’t be experienced for a second time.
That being said, naturally anyone has desire to get stuff done in shortest amount of time possible. It doesn’t matter whether one is enjoying his/her work or not, doesn’t matter also whether that person is perfectionist or pragmatic. Why? let’s put it this way: Joe is a perfectionist digital product designer with vision, it’s not on his terms to release an app with half-assed motion design. He wants every motions in his app to have purposes. Which one do you think he will choose if he is given options to choose whether the desired motion completed in 1 day or 2 days? We’re talking about the same result here with different time needed to complete. Ofcourse Joe will chose the first option whenever possible, he might then discover that the motion he designed initially was too confusing for user in practice, so some adjustments are needed which also take some additional times to complete. If that’s the case, then 1 day difference in result will impact the performance of final result completions in significant way because of that compounding effect.
Productivity is simply a person’s ability to complete an important task with desired result in shortest amount of time possible. We can say, the faster a person complete a job correctly, the more productive he/she is. Obviously most of the time, people don’t usually have only one task a day, it can be dozens or more. So we should bring quantity into equation. Then we can say: The bigger quantity, the bigger quality, plus the smaller amount of time for the tasks to be completed means the more productive somebody is.
Now we agreed that everyone wants to be productive. So now, how to consistently being productive? Here I’ll give you some tips based on my experience that may or may not applied to you. But I know, some of them are universal and should be applied to everyone. Here we go
Classic Paretto Principle
Believe it or not, Paretto Principle does matter, where 80% of your result comes from 20% of your overall efforts. If you think about it, what moves you forward whether in a job, life, education, relationship or anything is actually 20% of things you do, more or less. As a programmer naturaly I know many programming languages, I build many software either professionally or as a hobby. But if I deep dive to it, thing that put most money into my pocket in a form of a salary might actually just my PHP knowledge. The one old school language that everyone is bullying at, while in reality, internet is still mostly built with it (most sites still use PHP as their backend). I intrigued to write about it sometimes, programming languages war, tech stack war, etc. But now we’re talking about productivity. Another example is when I’m playing with my kid, I’m pretty sure that most of his childhood memory with me will be anytime he experienced something new in his life while having me on his side. It maybe smallest thing like figuring out how a marbles can be popped out to one side of a pipe when we rolled it from another side, or something bigger like discovering a sea first time in his life. Anything else might be easily forgotten and he won’t be able to recall it from his memory later on when he becomes an adult.
Dont Multitask Multitask ONLY when you know your limit
I’m sure you’ve heard it somewhere: “avoid multitasking if you want to be productive”. I’d say it’s simply not true because it’s just oversimplification. I would say we can multitask up to the point where we can’t, I mean to where our brain power and bandwidth don’t allow us to do multitasking anymore. If you’re a mathematician, can you come up with your original equation while listening to the podcast? I mean listening to a podcast, not having it as a background sound that you’re not aware what’s being discussed. Or if you’re a programmer, can you implement optimization algorithm that’s unique to your problem from scratch without any lib / framework while listening to a history channel to a point where you can retell that history afterwards? I’m sure most of us can’t do that. But, if thing you do is just a data entry or reformating some data from one document to another, then just go ahead with your another task at hand. So, know your limit where you must focus only on a single task, or better yet just avoid multitask from the very beginning and have peace in mind.
Your golden time
Everyone for sure has their own golden time for productivity. As a fulltime remote software developer working from home, daily household chores are inevitable. I also have to set my time some hours to play with my kid, either in afternoon or evening. So when the time comes to only do work, I make myself sure I’m fully on working mode, because that’s my golden time. Otherwise if that ever slips, it’s hard to make up for it later. Another example is when you want to make some hours in the evening to do focus work, whether it’s writing article, writing lib or software as a hobby, or just learning in depth about difficult topic. When the scheduled time comes and you have nothing else to do, no obligations no distractions, it would be dumb to trash it away your golden chance to do it because what you do instead is doing doom scroll on social media, watching endless motivational videos on youtube, or taking cheap dopamine like video games. So make sure to value your golden time, maximize it, since golden time is basically a time itself, it will never come back.
Step out and question your approach frequently
You know when you’re too focused to solve some difficult problem for too long, your path in a brain becomes too narrow on a certain topic you’re trying to solve, I can’t explain it in more scientific terms since I’m not a neuroscientist. But the point is, sometimes we need a break when we encounter a dead end in our effort to solve a problem. Because when we do, our neuron path will go back to previous route and find another solution by trying to relate it to other path created by our previous experiences. That explains why most of the time people find the solution while doing walk or visiting some random places. You need to step out a little bit to find inspiration when you stuck at something, to becomes much more productive later on.
That’s it, several tips that might be useful or applicable for anyone read this post. I sincerely believe that life itself is a sequence of experiment we need to do to improve it, by taking what’s working and discard what’s not working. And productivity itself is always an evolving topic where the method always comes and go as technology, tools or even our view about life changes.