Mock up of a dashboard.

10 Productivity Tips

The key to productivity is staying motivated and focusing on important tasks. Motivation tips give energy boosts. Focus tips help solve problems. These tips seem small, but add up over time.

Motivation

Why Though?

Many times people know what they must do, and how they can achieve it, but without a good story, people can't be bothered to try. To make a task enjoyable find a practical benefit.

I think one reason mathematics is boring to many people is because they do not have practical examples of why it is useful. What is math? A way to count. How do we do math? Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and so on. Why is it useful? It is the ultimate min-max tool, so think of what you love in life, and see if math can help maximize that lifestyle.

Hype Phrases

If you can't find a compelling why or the task must be done regardless how you feel, then make up a compelling reason. Keep track of your average performance and internally praise yourself when performing above average.

Say we can only 10 push ups.

Ridiculous, cheezy, or dumb phrases are superior, because exaggeration is funny. Failing is also funny, because then you can say, "Best in the world my ass".

Bet Against Yourself

Take 1 risk a month and note the failure or success. It should not take more than 2 days. A risk can be something like posting on a forum or reaching out a distant or random person. Pick risks where the outcome is uncertain.

Both our cynical and aspirational side want to help. The cynical version wants to protect against failure. While the aspiring side wants to grow limitlessly. We get a sense of our limits. A person who performs near their limits is better than one who does not.

When I applied to a game studio. I included a pitch video in the cover letter. It was suppose to be funny. I flashed a dildo briefly. I didn't get the job. Find the limit and work backwards. We love fools for trying more than perfect people who make no mistakes.

Don't Trash Talk

Trash talking can involve downplaying someone's achievements, jealousy, or bullying. Trash talking is a gateway to depression. Even if we keep our trash talking to ourselves, it still pulls us to negative thoughts. What starts off as a minute of trash talking can have us day dreaming negative thoughts for 10 more minutes. If this happens 3 times a day, we wasted 30 minutes on self loathing.

I do not read or watch mainstream news, because they mostly highlight negative events. I stopped playing competitive games, because I was tired of people trash talking each other. I skip ad trailers for horror movies. Negative emotions de-motivate and block action. The faster we recover from a bad experience, the faster we can focus on what we love.

One way get into zen mode is to visit Reddit. The news on the first page are generally funny, but don't venture off too much or it will be unproductive. If you do not like Reddit, find a funny website to visit. The comedy will rub off, instilling internal positivity.

Focus

Reading Is Fastest

The average person reads at 200 words a minute. When listening, our learning is limited to how fast people can speak.People speak at around 100 - 150 words a minute. Reading tutorials also allows us to skim, then skip sections.

Journal

Keeping a journal about problems allows us to reference it latter. We can then see our state of mind, what mistakes we made, and how to improve. When I get an occurring problem, I write about what steps I am using to solve the problem, and try to figure out a streamlined process. The benefit of keeping a journal is that it is research work disguised as fun.

Warm Up

The idea is to do a task that is very easy, hoping it will put us in the zone. When I do pull-ups, many times I am not in the mood for it. To get around this, I do 1 pull-up, then walk around for a few minutes, before finally returning to pull ups. When I was less experienced, I would have to use this warm up technique multiple times to get into the zone.

Copy Paste

This is a low effort warm up. There are millions of internet users. If you have a problem, someone probably has a solution. Copy their answer, study how it works, reproduce the answer from memory, then try a similar problem and figure it out without help. Experts can also use this technique to collect many solutions, and decide which one is the best.

Half Day

Say you broke a problem down to its simplest form. A good productivity trick is to solve the problem again. If you can only do 10 push ups, do 10 in the morning, and 10 in the evening. If you can only tolerate sending one marketing email a day, send one in the morning and one in the evening. The long delay makes it feel like a completely new day. Since the tasks are small, it won't even feel like work, but you still get the benefits of self improving.

Bundle Objectives

Industry specific news websites will often highlight good tutorials, new tools, or efficient processes. I don't have time to try them out, but I will make a list of them, and note why they may be useful. After a month or so, I will notice some of the recommendations may have a central topic in common. I figure out a way combine those related recommendations into one task, this way I get the benefit of all those objectives by doing one task.

References