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Monthly Archives: December 2009

I am most productive when I am interested in the work I’m doing.

I am most productive when I have a due date, and there is a real person expecting my results on that date, and especially if I know that the client of my efforts will be in a difficult position if I don’t deliver – in other words, the deadline is not an arbitrary.

I am most productive when I get out of the perfectionist mindset and into the just-get-it-done mindset.  This tends to happen on every project as the deadline looms.  I need to get better at making the switch sooner.  Some people have the just-get-it-done mindset by default.  These people amaze me, they are maximally productive by habit.
 
When I have not been productive, I feel:

  • anger at myself, for sliding back into the same bad habits again
  • dread, over having to tell the boss/client that it’s going to be late, and having to make excuses
  • fear, of contacting stakeholders for further information, because now they will realize that I’m just starting the work
  • despair, that I’ll ever get my life going in the direction I want it to go

 
Tactics that rarely incent me to work harder:

  • meticulous planning
  • obsessing over the consequences of non-performance
  • deadlines set far in the future
  • setting personal rewards for completing work on time

 
How about you?  Anything to add?

-J

You know, we like to think of ourselves as these beings of pure intelligence that happen to ride around in fleshy bodies.  But the truth is, we ARE our bodies, and our bodies have a huge influence over our mental states. *

What have I done so far today?  I could list 15 things I’ve accomplished, but they can all be stated as “sitting at the computer and…”.   As far as my body is concerned, I’ve been sitting still for hours.  No wonder I start to get bored, restless, have trouble concentrating, can’t force myself to work anymore, want to do something fun!  And if I do take a break to email a friend or watch some movie trailers, in other words still “sitting at the computer and…”, NO WONDER I still don’t feel like working afterwards!

Physical action is so important to feeling good, happy and willing to work!  Paradoxically, even getting up from the computer to take out the garbage and empty the dishwasher can lift my mood.  Walking to the store and back can replenish my mental energies enough to allow me to finish up a work task that was depressing me, before.

Get up and move, keep your body happy and your mind will follow.

-J

———

*this also explains why it’s so hard to avoid temptation.  A craving is more than just your mental desire for something (junk food, drugs, sex), a craving is your body’s way of MAKING you do something that it thinks it needs!  That’s why dieting doesn’t work.  That’s why you can’t talk teens into not having sex.  For every craving, there are good and bad ways to respond — but you WILL respond, eventually.  The body always wins.

Hello. My name’s Johnny and I’m a procrastinator.

(“Hello Johnny.”)

It has been a week since I worked on my top priority.

At first, I had a lot of little things to get done.  Important things.  I was just going to get them out of the way, and then I would get right onto priority #1, the Big Project for the Big Client.  But after a few days, I have to admit, I was looking for little things to do, anything that seemed productive and would let me put off that Big Project a little longer.  Oh, and I’d forgotten to look ahead in my calendar, forgotten that I’d booked Friday off for my son’s birthday.

Now it’s a week later, the Big Project is due ASAP and I’ve barely started.  Not only that but, perhaps predictably, other urgent high-priority things are popping up.  I’m behind the eight ball now.

I’m gonna go re-start that Big Project right now.  I know that the hardest part is getting started, that once I have some momentum the Big Project won’t seem so big.  With luck, I can get it finished before anyone starts screaming for my head.

And I’ll never, never procrastinate again.

Thank-you.

(*applause*)