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Productivity Hits 100: Some Productivity Secrets I've Learned

Tuesday June 22, 2021

So today the Productivity tag on the blog hit 100 articles. I’m pretty happy about that. If you are interested in being more productive, there’s probably something on that list that will help you out.

Writing about productivity is pretty easy for me, because personally, my psychology is continually showing me future-stuff that needs things done about it. It’s the contingency planner psychology, and I’m stuck with it.

For example, a thought comes in: “Hey, it’s been a rainy month so far, and this means the locks around the house will probably start to corrode like they did before, and that totally sucked, so probably get the WD-40 and spray them out.” So you make a plan to find the WD-40, or to buy electronic locks, or whatever.

There’s a constant stream of this stuff, and it feels good to be able to address at least some of that in a timely manner. You can’t do it all, but you can do some—and there’s the trick! Which items do you do, and how much, and how well? And how do you generally do a good enough job at keeping up with this stuff? Is there a system that can be used, to make everything a little bit easier?

Upon reflection, a few secrets:

First, one big secret of productivity systems is that you gotta have a next thing. Something else to try. Your current system has a countdown timer attached, in a way. It won’t work forever.

Maybe you’ll come back to it again someday, but sometime soon, your current system will probably start to feel much less effective.

This is why I designed my own system, Task BATL, to be modular and theory-based, rather than monolithic and routine-based. You can rearrange it and the way it works. You can use it backwards and make it look more like play than work, and sometimes that’s what you need…

So my Second secret is that productivity has a deep and dark shadow. There is a yin to its yang, so to speak.

If you want to be productive, you need to master this shadow. You need to be able to be lazy, motionless, and relatively unaffected by time pressure.

This is always easier at some times than others, but I find it works best when you’ve got something to watch, or listen to, or feel (like floating in a pool).

Doing this builds up important energy capacity that you’ll need later, when you are checking things off your list left and right.

Finally, my Third productivity secret is that productivity should be relatively shallow, if it is going to be frequent. You should establish a “maximum dive depth” on a project, and have an idea of just how much work you have to do.

If you find yourself getting deeper and deeper into a project, and the project will last for more than a day or so, make plans to pause your work ASAP. Use the rest of your energy to “put a handle on the work for next time” (write down what you were doing, and how to pick up the work again), before you burn out!

Ideally, you’ll be able to make plans to pause your work before you get started. I find this (bonus tip) is really helpful in a lot of cases.

Speaking of which…that’s enough blogging for today. Take care everybody! :-)

Filed in: Productivity /115/ | Control /103/

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