Top 10 Productivity Killers

Fast Company has run the results of something or other that got them a top ten list of the things that get in your way at work, as chosen by annoyed people at work. None of the ten are going to startle you but as you recognise many of them, see what you think of the suggested solutions.

Here’s one of the ten:

Cure: Surround yourself with productive people

Much like laughter, productivity can be infectious, says [Rosemary] Haefner [chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder]. Stay away from people who like to waste time; they will drain your energy. Instead, align yourself with the company go-getters.

“Watching how others make themselves productive can inspire us to act similarly,” she writes.

Your Top 10 Productivity Killers and How to Fix Them – Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company (30 June 2015)

Read the full piece.

It’ll just take a minute…

There’s some smart and simple advice from productivity writer Grace Marshall: get a stopwatch. Well, if you have a phone, you have a stopwatch, but get it and use it. Time what you do.

Time your distractions
Next time you tell yourself you’re just going to have 5 minutes on Facebook – set a stop watch and see how long you actually spend. It may only take 5 minutes to post your update, but if you start scrolling, clicking and exploring links, how long is that actually taking?

Test those two minute jobs

We all have things we perpetually underestimate. What are yours? For me it’s the bitty jobs. The things I think will only take two minutes (e.g. email file) but actually take anything from 5 minutes (connect to server, wait, find file, type email, press send) to 15 (oh wait, that’s the wrong format, fix that, change the date, add that other bit of information, save it to PDF, check it looks alright, now type the email and send it…) Next time you tackle your simple, mundane or bitty jobs, use a stopwatch and see what you discover.

Stop the clock – Grace Marshall, (undated but probably 9 March 2015)

I think by excerpting this bit I make it sound like a time and motion study but in her full piece, Marshall is relaxed and persuasive about how it’s a small thing that helps a lot.

Music for concentrating by

This isn’t for me. I work to music a lot. A lot. If I’m writing something with pace I might use iTunes Radio’s Eighties Hits station. But usually I have various playlists and selections and albums and artists and I play them on whims. Also on headphones. Whims can be loud.

Actually, that’s the thing: usually if I need pace and energy then I’ll turn the volume up. Once or twice recently I’ve found I have to turn it down instead or occasionally stop it completely. (You cannot listen to Kate Bush in the background. Cannot. You listen to her properly. No choice.)

I think I’m lucky in that I hear lyrics, I hear the human singing voice, as just another instrument. Only when I’m working, that is. If I’m listening properly, lyrics are crucial. I wouldn’t enjoy Dar Williams so much if her lyrics weren’t so gorgeous. But when I’m working, I can have Meredith Brooks blasting out and it invigorates me, it doesn’t distract me.

Apparently it’s more normal for people need instrumentals. Normal enough that I just found this 45-minute video for you. Presumably you don’t watch the video, you just listen to the sound – like you do when the only YouTube copy of a rare track is one set to fan-made photography and badly transcribed lyrics. See if it does any good for you.

What happens when you switch off your smartphone

I mean, seriously switch it off. Keep it as a phone instead of the entire world in your pocket and knocking at your door. Spoiler 1: it works out just fine.

Spoiler 2: I’m not going to find out for myself.

I’m fine with reading about it in a happy piece from someone who has now clearly achieved the kind of zen utopian state we can all aspire to just so long as we never get there:

In 2012, I realized I had a problem.

My iPhone made me twitchy. I could feel it in my pocket, calling me, like the Ring called Bilbo Baggins. It distracted me from my kids. It distracted me from my wife. It distracted me anytime, anywhere. I just didn’t have the willpower to ignore email and Twitter and Instagram and the whole world wide web. Infinity in my pocket was too much.

I wanted to get control, but I didn’t want to give up my iPhone altogether. I loved having Google Maps and Uber and Find Friends and an amazing camera.

So I decided to try an experiment. I disabled Safari. I deleted my mail account. I uninstalled every app I couldn’t handle. I thought I’d try it for a week.

My year with a distraction-free iPhone (and how to start your own experiment) – Jake Knapp, Medium (31 August 2014)

Find out what exactly happened and how to do it yourself, if necessary.

Windows: block distractions with FocalFilter

I can’t tell you if this is any good but its function is handy and its price is free so if you’re a distracted Windows user, take a look and let me know what you think, would you?

From the official site:

Focus Better and Get More Done

FocalFilter is a free productivity tool that helps you focus by temporarily blocking distracting websites. After the block timer runs out, your websites are available for you to view again.

1. Run FocalFilter.
2. You choose which websites to block.
3. Set how long they should blocked for.
4. Get more work done.

FocalFilter official site