As a business owner and freelancer, I can’t afford to waste my time. I have always been a hard worker but now that I work for myself, I’ve become fanatical about productivity. I’m constantly reading books about increasing productivity and coming up with new ways to make sure I get the most out of every day. Here are a few weird productivity tips that I’ve tried recently with great success… I haven’t tried the naked one yet but I will as soon as we get our blinds fixed… we have an inward-facing balcony and my neighbours don’t really need to be feasting on my tatas as they leave for work in the morning.
1. Give Up
It seems really counterproductive to stop doing the thing that you’re supposed to be doing but if you walk away and give your brain some space, it can turn an 8-hour task into a 15-minute task. It doesn’t matter how urgently you have to get the task done: if you’re sitting at your computer, stressed up to your eyeballs to the point of not getting any work done, you need to give up. For now at least.
2. Get naked
Rumour has it Victor Hugo would write naked. He would arrange for his valet to take his clothes and Hugo would be forced to stay in his office until the valet returned with his clothes. Why not give it a try? I can’t think of anything that would make me finish an article quicker than someone confiscating my clothes. Note: This one is probably best for people who work from home or have a private office with a lock and very reliable blinds.
3. Ditch your desk
Apparently Agatha Christie never owned a desk and would just write wherever she happened to be. If you work in an office, try using an empty room down the hall or spending the day working in another department. Mix it up. It can be really uninspiring working at the same desk all the time.
4. Police yourself
If bingeing on social media is your default procrastination behavior you need to get serious about policing yourself. Get a blocking program like Self Control. Programs like this will block your access to Facebook, Twitter, Google, and selected sites so you can get some work done without being tempted to distract yourself with blogs or your favourite Facebook pages.
5. Ditch your chair
Earnest Hemingway reportedly wrote standing up, as he said that it made him think more clearly. If you can, ditch your chair and work standing up, or try sitting on a fitness ball instead of a chair. Just get moving and mix it up a little.
6. Have a shower
Woody Allen swears that he gets the best ideas in the shower and will periodically have several showers in one day. If you’re feeling stumped, jump in the shower. I’ve tried this and it’s actually brilliant. Make sure you have a waterproof notepad and pen in there too.
7. Be extremely disciplined
Steven King writes 2000 words every single day of the year no matter what. This takes about 5 hours. Try setting yourself a very rigid daily challenge and stick to it for a week. King has written 55 novels so he might just be on the right track with this one.
8. Embrace the cone of silence
Create a visual cue for your co-workers so they know not to disturb you. It might be wearing headphones, hanging a sign on your office door, or literally wearing a conical hat on your head that says ‘Cone of Silence‘. So much of our productivity is lost to co-workers so be strong and be that weirdo who wears a stupid hat and gets twice as much work done as everyone else. Nobody will be laughing at you when you get promoted or finish your novel months before it’s due.
9. Don’t ever answer your phone
How many times have you gratefully lunged for your ringing phone when you’re halfway through a grueling task, welcoming the distraction? Stop doing this immediately. If you’re too reachable, you will rarely make it for an hour at a time without being disturbed. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb for most of the day. It will stop you from picking up your phone every time it flashes when someone has liked your latest Instagram post.