Lately, I’ve realized that I have read a lot of material on two topics viz.
a. How to stop procrastinating
b. How to be productive
And I was wondering if it would make sense to share my progress with the world so that I get more inputs & suggestions from people who’re trying something similar. So here’s the plan: I will keep sharing life hacks, tricks, tools, utilities, apps, habits, daily regimes, factoids, scientific findings and everything in between on how to be more productive in life.
So here are the things I follow at present:
1. 5:00 AM to 6:00 AM – The holy hour
The one thing that’s common between successful people around the world is that all of them are early risers. It gives you enough time to headstart & plan the day instead of simply rushing to your office.It also gives you a moral edge of being at ‘work’ (working on yourself) while the rest of the world is still asleep.
2. The 20-20-20 morning regime
After trying out different regimes, I’m happily following Robin Sharma’s 20-20-20 morning routine.
Here’s what I do in 20-20-20
5:00 to 5:20 – Get up, brush, make tea, simple exercise & stretching
5:20 to 5:40 – Open my todo app and plan the day. (e.g. what’s the frog of the day)
5:40 to 6:00 – Read one or half chapter of a book (Currently reading Imagine -how creativity works. Wonderful book)
3. Pick a ToDo App
I’ve found this super useful. Instead of processing multiple threads in my mind, I jot down everything that’s to be done & set reminders. Again the rule I follow is to identify the most hard/tedious job at hand as the ‘frog of the day’. I eat the frog the first thing in the morning at work. After trying out multiple apps (that work seamlessly on mobile and desktop) from Any.Do to Wunderlist to Todoist, I finally found the one that suited me best: TickTick. Nice Android app and I like their desktop version too.
4. Keep track of your micro-thoughts
Micro-thoughts are the moments of insights that we think we’ll be able to recollect later but alas! that’s the biggest lie to tell to ourselves. You can never recollect a micro-thought. Take my word for it. So note it down. I use Evernote as my default note taking app. It’s on my phone, on my desktop as a Windows application and on my browser as a web clipper.
5. Check email only twice a day
This was a tough one and it was eating all my time without even me realizing. Never ever start your work day with email. I’ve formed a habit of reading emails at 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM and I’ve TickTick reminding me when to check the email.
6. Use Pomodoro technique at work
Earlier I used to work for hours at a stretch and gradually realized that post afternoon, I didn’t have enough mental energy to process anything that demanded attention or creativity. In short, my brain muscles were all tired and used up with the ruthless work marathon since the beginning of the day. Then I read about Pomodoro. In its classic form, you work for 25 minutes, then take a break of 5 minutes. Repeat.
I use Clearfocus Android app to work for 45 minutes and then take a break of 10 minutes. (I generally take a brisk stroll)
7. Stop thinking about what to wear everyday
Wear the same thing everyday. The logic behind wearing a uniform is simple: stop using your brain to make mundane decisions that are going to tax your brain. Steve Jobs, Mark Zukerberg and a lot of other successful people follow this regime. I decided to give it a try after years of “I have nothing to wear today” or “I have nothing neat/ironed/new to wear today” mornings. It works for me. I bought these 6 nice solid deep blue tshirts that are comfortable & keep switching. Trust me, it’s a headache off my list.
8. Getting shit done
I’ve found the only trick that works if you’re fighting procrastination: get shit done immediately. When I started with my todo app, tasks kept on piling up because I kept clicking ‘Snooze’. Don’t. If you’re supposed to buy a bulb but you forgot & now you’re comfortably sitting on your couch, don’t create a task on your todo; get up and go to the market, get shit done. I’ll be honest, I’m still trying this one very hard. But the kind of results I’m getting, I’m sure I’m going to stick to getting shit done.
9. Experimental: Report to yourself
At Storypick, since there’s no one asking me questions on my progress, I’m trying to play around with the idea of reporting to myself at the end of the day. After some quick search, I stumbled upon IDoneThis, which basically is an awesome team performance management tool. It has a free plan for individuals. So here’s how it works: It sends you an email at the end of every workday asking one simple question: What did you do today?
And I can just reply to it via email. This is the best part. More often than not, it dawns upon me that while replying to this simple question, there are days when I’m ashamed to cheat because I wasn’t as productive as I intended. It’s been a few days, so this is experimental.
Do let me know if you happen to try anything from this list. Do share your progress, tips, habits and productivity hacks.