A reader, Noah, wrote me this -
I want to conduct an Experiment on personal productivity. I believe that if I had to show/tell people what I did each day I'd be more productive. Would you mind me sending you an e-mail with the same subject line everyday (You could automatically filter it to spam if you wanted). You don't have to read or respond, but I think knowing that you COULD read them would be hugely motivating. Again, this is just an experiment so I don't know how well it will work.
Let me know your thoughts!
All the Best,
I think this sounds like a lot of fun, and offered to start a thread on here as well. Noah will hopefully be updating us in the comments as the experiment progresses. This is quite cool. I'm excited to see what happens.
I've spent a lot of the last few days planning, so I don't have much to say I got done.
I haven't done much time tracking lately, but I can talk about the context switching. I've been using it for 4 days now, and it has made me HUGELY more productive. I must be rewiring my brain to know that I only work on my macbook and only surf on the ubuntu machine.
I didn't notice this until I started doing this, but what I'd do is work until I got stuck. Then I'd open up cnn, HN, or something like that and start surfing and never really get back to work. Now I keep working through that, because I'm in a context.
I think this first step makes other productivity hacks much more useful!
I spent most of today traveling around and generally out and about. Not much on the productivity side, but I wanted to introduce two ideas.
1. Context. I've set up two laptops in my office. One laptop is strictly for work, the other is for play. When I start to work on the play one, I move over to the work one and vice versa. The idea behind this is that there will develop a mental break that says, "When I sit on this computer, I work" and hopefully that will help prevent distractions.
2. I've created three groups that an activity can fall in. The first one is high impact, and I want this to be 60% of my time. The next is maintenance, planning, reading books, etc. That should account for 25% time. The last is 15% time and for me is basically messing around on the internet consumes 90% of this time. I'm sure other minor things could consume this time. This is a result of trying to plan out every 10 minute and then 30 minute block of time during the day and failing horribly at it. I think If I know what I want my day to look like, it shouldn't matter what order my day comes in.
Today was pretty unproductive. I did write quite a bit ~1000 words, and really fleshed out the first chapter and the forward. Obviously, there's more words to be written, but I know where I'm headed. I worked on cleaning up my downloads folder, desktop and general areas of clutter on my computer and on my desk. Not super productive, but not a complete loss.
An interesting observation though: If I'm aiming for 70% success, that's 109 days a year that I'm not productive. That's a lot! I wonder what the implications are of this? Most people probably fail to be productive 100 days a year?
Today I did the following:
1. Installed Git and XAMP, configured and downloaded repos, worked on setting up development environment for front end of website.
2. 2 hour Skype chat on virtual office infrastructure, figured out what to do for each category and figured out where to go from there.
3. Worked through first chapter of ebook and outlined storyline and narrative. Collected important facts, dates, names. Ready to write tomorrow morning.
It feels unproductive. If I can execute on 1 and 3 tomorrow, I think I'll feel like today was worth it.
Here's what all I got done today:
1. Walked someone through setting up virtualbox on their mac over skype
2. Evaluated software for our startups 'virtual office'
3. Worked on clients website and fixed a bunch of small annoying minor issues
4. Published new massive 2000+ word blog post. Had Ramit Sethi (new york times best selling author) book mark it.
5. Restarted ebook writing by deleting everything because I wasn't happy with how how well the different parts connected. Found more sources to tie everything together, worked on outline, and found more topics to research.
All in all, I'd say it was a more productive day than if I didn't have to type up what all I did. I think I could have been even more productive. I'll be back tomorrow with another update!
You could also try out http://www.stickk.com/ :-)
I haven't tried it myself, but that is a site that is created especially for that sort of thing.
Over the summer I was working for a small green-technology startup. I was working from home so I had to email my boss at the end of each working day with what I'd done. That accountability was really good in motivating me to maintain productivity.
Mike Radivis just asked asked some good questions on "Chase Meaning, Not Happiness" -
How do you measure meaning if not in terms of happiness? Aren't things that create more happiness for a longer time for a larger number of individuals better than those things who lack those qualities but are proclaimed to be personal achievements anyway? Does the scope of happiness make happiness meaningful to you or not? What are achievements good for if they aren't good at facilitating happiness? Imagine you wouldn't experience any pleasant or unpleasant emotions and would have to decide rationally what to pursue (assuming that is possible at all). Then what you want to do with your life? (Another way to formulate this question maybe would be to ask what's your grand strategy in that situation.)
I'm quite interested in your answers. I like that your blog posts are so outspoken. It's just that the message of this post is hard for me to grasp, as I'm pretty much utilitarian in my thinking.
Good questions. I'll go through it line by line.
How do you measure meaning if not in terms of happiness?
I woke up last night to the pinging sound metal makes on hard wood. As I began to wake up fully, the pinging continued. Sound repeating over and over. Finally, I turned my head and saw my son Noah standing next to my bed. He was tapping against the side of the end table with the edge of a large knife, like a tuning fork. Somehow he knew I was awake because he turned and looked at me. It was the longest he had looked at me all day, and the only time he had done so voluntarily. He took the knife and pointed at me. My boy...his eyes were absent. He wasn't there at all.
“Noah,” I said firmly.“Put down the knife.”
He didn't respond at first, just stood there, rocking. But finally he spoke, his voice hollow. Without pitch. He looked at me and said “You aren't supposed to be awake. Go back to sleep.” He gently placed the knife down on the end table and left the room, disappearing around the corner as I heard him head back up the stairs. Margaret was awake now and was looking at me. Waiting for me to explain. I told her to stay where she was as I grabbed the knife and headed up the stairs.
When I reached the room where my two kids were staying I stopped and listened at the door. All I could hear was the gentle snore of my daughter. I opened the door as quietly as I could. Bit by bit. When I looked inside Noah was in his bed. He seemed to be sleeping as well...I know Noah sleep walks. But I had been told it had gotten better. As I walked downstairs only one thought kept running through my mind. This was my fault. If they hadn't come to visit he would be okay.
Went to the kitchen and turned on the light. It hurt my eyes. Found the knife block and placed the knife back. I tried not to think too much when I found another two knives placed side by side on the counter. One was long and thin. It was a filet knife. The other was simply smaller than the other ones. And though I tried not to think about it the thought came anyway. My son hadn't simply grabbed a knife in his sleep. He had considered his options, and settled on the one.