What a productivity app developer does when not productive

Take a read of this on Reddit. Those very words – actually, that very word
Reddit – should tell that it won’t be an easy read. Not because of anything actually harsh or hard in the piece, but because it’s on Reddit. Looks very ugly but it’s worth it for pieces like this:

Lately, I’ve been stressed out and find myself caught in a bad, unproductive cycle: I’m tired so I can’t work. But I’m stressed out so I can’t sleep. I wake up tired, only to realize I’m going to waste another day. This has been going on for some x weeks — maybe more.

This isn’t normal for me: I write productivity apps, and I (like to think) I really know my stuff. If you ask me about a common problem about productivity, I probably know how to solve it because I’ve probably suffered from it in the past.

I’m writing this down because I need to follow my own advice. Maybe you need to hear it too. If you don’t need this now, that’s fine. We go through phases in life. I probably didn’t need to hear this 6 months ago.

If you’re stressed out and got caught in a unproductive cycle, here’s something that might help. (self.productivity) – Reddit (20 September 2014)

Read the short but full piece on Reddit.

Don’t just have a production meeting, have a strategy one

Previously… I’ve recommended that you take yourself off with a coffee and an iPad and work through what BBC News would call a production meeting for one.

It still stands. Even working for yourself, taking a set time to work out specific things you need to do is well worth it. But today I spent about four hours on a much richer, deeper and more serious meeting with my wife Angela Gallagher.

She called it a strategy meeting. Everything we do together, all our business plans, every project we have on separately, we got them all out on the table and we worked through each one.

It was exhausting.

And you should see the pile of OmniFocus tasks I’ve got to do now.

But, wow, it was worth it.

Make a quiet spot in your day

I love newsrooms, I love production offices, I utterly adore popping in to schools where 100 bored kids and 3 stressed-out teachers expect me to perform in some useful way. I love being busy, busy, busy. But I do get more done when I am alone.

Actually, this is becoming a theme day. I write the most and I think I write my best when I get up at 5am in the morning – and today is the 250th day I’ve done that.  Plus I’ve mentioned before that there is a single quiet moment for me on Christmas Eve that I look forward to. And now I read this in Psychology Today:

Creating pockets of solitude is a powerful way to refuel and energize your life. Make it a priority. Build it in. You’ll feel better and more equipped to manage the challenges of your day.

5 Ways to Find Quiet in a Chaotic Day – Polly Campbell, Psychology Today (10 December 2013)

That’s an article in the site’s Imperfect Spirituality section and, just as an aside, isn’t the internet great? I’m not a spiritual person, I have no faith, I wouldn’t have looked in this section at all. Wouldn’t have occurred to me that I’d find anything there of interest. But a noodling Google search as I felt for this issue that’s been on my mind today, led to this. I like it.

…My ability to be well in this world is dependent on a certain amount of solitude. It’s where I find my balance.

It’s good for all of us: Solitude is the root of innovation and creativity. It is restorative. Quiet time eases stress and promotes relaxation and concentration. Often it fosters greater appreciation for others and enhances social relationships. It also delivers a dose of perspective and helps us become better problem solvers.

Campbell talks a little about the benefits but then acknowledges how hard it is to get this type of quiet time and gives plenty of advice about it. Examples:

There are only two (and-a-half) rules: Be alone. Be quiet. And here’s the half – be still at least part of the time. A quiet walk, gardening alone in the silence, cooking alone without music or the television are all powerful ways to access your alone time. But it’s also important to just stop doing, to be still and to notice what comes up.

Here are five other tips that can help you carve out a few moments of quiet in your day:

1. Plan for it. Ask for it. My husband is always willing to help me find time because he knows now that most times, an hour or two to myself each week (more if you can get it) keeps me from becoming a raging, crazy woman.

2. Make it a priority. Like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, 10 minutes of quiet time a day packs health benefits that will contribute to your peace and well-being. This is not a luxury. It is part of taking care of your body and cultivating your spirit and it’s just as important as eating vegetables and working out.

Read the full piece for much more.