In the last weeks I read two different books. The one is “The Productivity Project” by Chris Baliley and the other ist “The Procrastination Equation” by Piers Steel. Also I did some developing work and studied a lot, because I had exams. I want to share with you now, what I have learned from reading the books and my general experience in the last months and years about productivity and procrastination.
The Productivity Project
If I should summarize the book in one sentence I would say: You can accomplish more if you mange your time, attention and energy effective. These are basically the three components, which Chris Bailey describes are the key for productivity. It is not all about time, because if you have a lot of time but if your focus is low because you are tired, then you will not work productive. You need energy, so enough sleep and breaks for keeping your concentration at work high. And of course your attention on the task must be high. If you are low motivated and the distraction around you is high you will not work productive and tend to procrastination.
The Procrastination equation
- Motivation is the opposite of procrastination.
- Value is defined by the reward and the value you get out of the task, e.g. enjoyment at doing passionate things or money for work
- Expectancy is defined by your mentally: How high do you think will you succeed at the task?
- Impulsiveness is defined by your ability to focus on the task.
- Delay is defined by the deadline of the task.
A high value (more money, more fun) and a high expectancy (you think you can do the task without much effort), low impulsiveness (e.g. a calm environment like a library) and low delay (a near deadline) will help you increase your motivation and decrease the probability to procrastinate.
Connection between productivity and procrastination
I think there is a deep connection between productivity and procrastination. If you are able to eliminate procrastination by self motivation and therefore increasing value and expectancy and also creating near deadlines and calm working environments your attention to the task will increase in many ways. And attention is one of the key components of productivity. There are many practical way to increase your attention and focus and tasks which I use:
- Listening to music. Works for me sometimes for some tasks, that’s something I think everyone needs to figure out for themselves.
- Getting rid of distracting notification and temptations by tools which blocks certain internet sites for the time you are working
- Working in a working environment with low distraction: libraries, university
- Creating distance between your smartphone. The temptation is big to look on your smartphone during a work or study session. By putting your smartphone locally away you lower the risk.
Next there is time management. The are thousand of tools for planning you to do lists out there. My favor is currently todoist. It is simple, works and my smartphone and desktop. It helps me to create an overview about my tasks which I have to do regularly but also it reminds me about task which I have to do only one time, so in general it is a great way to keep control over the task I have to do. On every Sunday I plan my tasks look and at my task for the next week and organize and balance them. That leads to minimal working effort during the next days in the week and therefore I spend very little time at time management and concentrate more about getting the tasks done. On the specifics day I just planning when I will do what.
Keep your energy level up
If you are exhausted you will no work effectively. You will have low motivation and tend to procrastinate and you concentration will be low. Therefore it is very important to keep you energy level high. As Chris Bailey said in “The Productivity Project” often times you can decide when to wake up, but you can decide when to go to bed. I experienced a little bit with how much sleep I need and I come with the solution that the average 8 hours per night works for me well. Further taking regular breaks are very important to keep your energy level over the day high. You cannot work many hours without breaks at the same concentration level. For a long time I used the Pomodoro technique for projects and learning sessions which seems hard for me, but in the last months I recognized that longer working sessions are better for me to keep on the flow. There is the 52-17 rule, which seems pretty random but researchers found out, that when your work for 52 minutes and then take a 17 minutes break you will work most efficiently. I try to apply the rule as best as I can, but I do not use a timer for certain task e.g. studying where I have certain topics and tasks to do, which I want first finish even when I take some minutes longer, but this works better for me then keeping straight on the 52-17 rule. Least but not last doing sports is also one way to keep my energy level high. I do 2-3 times sport per week, this helps me to keep physically fit and this also helps my mentally work. It is proved that our brain can work better and more creative if we do sport, so that is also one reason more beside many other to stick on a regular workout plan, beside that I also play basketball regularly.
I love to deal with productivity and trying to defeat the temptations to procrastinate. Productivity exists out of three component: Time, attention and energy. If you all keep them you will be able to work creative, except when you procrastinate. Procrastination is science and you can do something against the temptations to procrastinate.
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