June 3, 2019

What habit that you've built that makes you work more effectively?

Vincent Liao @vinliao

Maybe we all can learn a thing or two from sharing our habits that makes us work more effectively. I'll start with mine. One of the best habit that I built was separating working time and eating time. I would work in the morning, and I usually just take some coffee/latte. I break my fast on afternoon and that's the time where I stop working and relax.

Having a hard separation between my "focus time" and my "relax time" makes me work hard and play hard. When it's working time, I put all my effort in doing what I need to do and when it's relax time, I put all the work down and rest.

What's the habit that makes you work more effectively?

  1. 6

    I do Pomodoro. When a Pomodoro start, I focus on whatever I want to focus. I don't like to fool myself, and doing something else while my pomodoro is running feels like it.

    I use Productivity Challenge Timer for Android, it's a good and simple app for Pomodoro with a cool ranking system.

    Otherwise I do a lot of exercise, which gives me a lot of energy to go through what I want to do.

    I meditate as well, to control the strongest feeling which can drive me out of the zone.

    I like to keep my energy level pretty consistent throughout the day, that's why I only drink tea. No coffee, no alcohol, no cigarette. I eat very rarely industrial sugar as well (but I'm addicted to fruits and dates).

    I feel very, very good like that!

  2. 5

    I always try to fight lack fo focus and distractions while working, and these 3 habits have helped me a lot in this regard:

    • I don't use the smartphone from 8 to 6 - I found that also a quick check on Twitter costs me 15 minutes of focus.
    • I take a 5-min break every hour, so I avoid multiple "unplanned" breaks especially when the work gets tough.
    • I put down a list of daily tasks every morning - I'm unable to work efficiently without a strict plan.

    Habits are very personal anyway.

  3. 4

    It's simple but: headphones and music. I particularly like The Social Network's soundtrack for working. I always start working without music and wonder why I am distracted and it's like a whole new productive world when I remember to "wire in."

  4. 3

    I have realized that accomplishing a big goal requires to treat it as a marathon rather than a sprint. Earlier i used to work on a project till I burn out because I get stuck on a problem for too long. Instead, now i work for limited hours per day on a particular goal and just sleep on it until next day. I just try to do little each day, so that I do not burn out, and if I am stuck, a fresh mind allows me to look at the problem with a new perspective.

    1. 2

      That is very true.
      I also get stuck during those few working hours and just taking a walk, taking a shower, taking a nap or working out resets me and then I can go again.

  5. 3

    schedule social media time
    work 1.5-2h in the morning uninterrupted.

    1. 1

      How much social media do you allow yourself to use in a day?

      1. 1

        I try not to go over 1h per day, which can be split into 4x15 min breaks.
        However, this also depends on your daily job. If you are a social media manager or influencer you will probably spend more time on social media as you are constantly tempted by what you see online.

        1. 2

          So you spread out the 15 min social media usage throughout the day to reward yourself? That sounds interesting! I should probably try replacing my current model of using social media which is using it in a big chunk of time.

  6. 2

    I try to take notes on everything that I do, especially when researching or learning something new. I keep a log for every project that I work on. Periodically flushing the contents of my brain into a text file helps me focus on whatever it is I'm doing right now. It also helps me "switch context" back into a project I was working on before when I need to - all I have to do is read a dozen lines of the log to re-orient myself and pick up where I left off. Been doing it for many years now - the only way to work.

    1. 1

      Yes! I also do really like to write down an idea instead of just "thinking" about it. Dumping it on paper (or on your laptop) is a great way to externalize your thought so that it can be revisited and I can rethink about it.

  7. 2

    I'm tidying up my desk/office in the morning before work. Works for me :)

  8. 1

    Such a great discussion going on, here are my 2 cents.
    I've picked a few habits over the years that fit nicely together, I'll go from theoretical to practical.

    • Keeping a productivity log (journal) - At the end of each day I record my productivity levels, my energy levels and my happiness levels for that day, and if there are major variations from the norm I try to record why that is. Then at the end of the week I review those and figure out what I need to do more of and what I need to do less of, I try to notice patterns, positive and negative.
    • Planning my tasks the night before - I pick all my tasks from the day from all my different projects the night before and categorize them into Urgent, Important and Extra. Next morning I can go straight into execution mode.
    • Pomodoro cycles - While in execution mode I use pomodoros but before each one I answer few questions to get ready like: How will I get started, How will I deal with blockers, How will I know it's done.

    I always wanted to have all of these features in one place to improve my consistency in using all of them.
    Instead of having to use 3 different apps for manage the journal, the projects, the master list and pomodoros I decided to build an app that has them all. The result is LifeHQ - https://lifehqapp.com
    It combines the three modules I mentioned above plus a Habit tracker, Daily mission and few more.

    1. 1

      That's interesting Kolev! How do you actually gauge how productive you are in a day though? I find it really difficult to quantify my productivity and I usually just write "I am very productive today because xyz" or "I am not productive today from 11pm onwards because abc happened."

      Is there any technique that you use to correctly gauge your productivity, energy, and happiness level?

      1. 1

        For productivity it's quite simple, did I complete all tasks I planned for today vs how much did I procrastinate on Youtube, Reddit etc.

        For energy I go by feel, it's nothing special, usually correlates with physical activity and healthy eating and good sleep.

        For happiness or mood, I like to keep it simple and think about wether I was in the moment today or was I getting bogged down by expectations and things I can't control. But just this process of reflecting on these situations at night makes me better at recognizing them the next day.

        The main benefit from all of these is the reflection process itself, just thinking about how the day went and how you handled the situations makes it easier to recognize them in the future and respond better.

        1. 1

          Yes, definitely agree on the benefits of writing out a journal. I write down my journal on with pen and paper at the end of every day and it's been working out great for me. Thanks for sharing your method on how to measure productivity, it's way better than my "i feel pretty productive today" way of measuring things!

  9. 1

    Start :)

    If I don't start immediatelly and open other crap around the Internets, sometimes even the entire day goes to the toilet.

    If I just start with anything, everything seems to pick up from there.

    A helpful hint for this strategy: have your first thing for today already defined from the day before.

    Hope it helps.

    1. 1

      So you plan everything the night before instead of planning it in the morning?

      1. 1

        Well, sometimes.
        More importantly, I know what I will start with tomorrow. Having the rest of the day planned is good too.

  10. 1

    I’ve become a big fan of using the Pomodoro technique. I use the Focus app across all my Apple products (Mac, iPad, iPhone, Watch).

    Typically, I try to create my list of tasks for the next day, so that I hit the ground running the next morning.

    15 mins of meditation, listening to music while working, and sticking to Pomodoro has helped me to become 1,000% more effective.

    1. 1

      Hi, what 'Focus app' ?

      1. 1

        It's an app that helps with the Pomodoro technique. I can set the duration of my work sessions and short/long breaks.