12 October 2006

Productivity: what's been working

I thought I would summarize a few productivity strategies that have been working for me so far.

Getting up and going to sleep at the same time every day. This principle is the bedrock of my schedule. I like to get up at 5:30 am, go to the gym at 6 am, and be at work by 9 am. But if I get up at 5:30 am, I have to be in bed by 9:30 pm. I've been much less consistent in going to bed on time than waking up on time. I really like the fact that from 5:30 am - 10 am, the world is quiet. No emails or problems to deal with until the rest of the world wakes up. However, one problem with this strategy is that sometimes I don't get enough sleep during the week. I may experiment with a sleep-in holiday on Saturday mornings.

Going to the gym at least four times a week. Going to the gym just helps me feel relaxed and energized so I can begin my work day fresh. Also, I feel like it's a good way to set the tone for the day. If I can get up early and go to the gym in the morning, I can do anything. A workout done is an accomplishment I can be proud of.

Recording timecards. This procedure keeps me honest. I look at the timecard and see "wow, I did really well today" or "gee, today was not good." As I fill out the timecard during the day, I'm aware of when I'm working and goofing off. I use timecards with the following format. Take a 3" x 5" index card and write the date at the top. With the card oriented vertically, I write down times in half hour blocks ("5:30", "6:00", "6:30,"..."12:00", "12:30",..."9:00"). Then periodically during the day (especially when I have interstitial time), I fill out the card.

Keeping a blog. It's useful for both work and personal reasons. Writing things up helps me reflect on my progress in work. I also like writing up trip reports (like hockey camp) so that I have a diary-like report of important events in my life. Some of my friends have become regular readers of my blog, so it's a good way to keep in touch (but unfortunately, a one-way method unless the other person has a blog, too.)

Applying GTD principles in my email account and online calendar. I've written about these ideas before in my blog, so I won't go over it again.

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