You know I’d always read stuff like – “how to instantly improve efficiency and productivity”, “productivity article: 10 hacks” and I’d think – wow – how much people think about productivity! And then I’d get back to work and change nothing in my life.
But since the last few days, an interesting 'improve efficiency and productivity' strategy struck me and I implemented it right away – and- it has resulted in me doing lots of work and feeling much better than before.
Essentially this is it:
Work while you work.
Take Conscious breaks.
Let’s start with work while you work. Basically, this means doing ONLY work when you work.
You might have heard of this ‘n’ times and all but practically do you really, really do it? I definitely didn’t a few days ago. While I was working, I’d wander off and check email. I’d wander off and check my Orkut scraps. Or open my twitter account. Or do a random Google search. Or take calls. Or check email again. Or Eat.
In the last few days however, I did not check email. I did not open my twitter account when I worked. I ONLY worked. It involved a special effort, but I put that special effort and ONLY worked. Result – I got a LOT of more work done in the same time and felt much better after I’d completed a portion of the work!
That’s work while you work.
It means 2 things. One, when you start working – you decide in your mind, what portion of your work you are going to complete before you take a break. And you take a break only after you have finished that task – not when you feel like taking one. For instance, when I set out to write my fear poem, I decided to take a break after I’d written the first draft for it. So I knew – this is what I am going to do before I take a break. That’s the first thing about a conscious break – you know when you’ll take it.
The second thing is – when you take a break – you just take a break! You forget work. You chill! You do whatever you feel like doing in that moment! Do you feel like watching the first part of a movie, watch it! Or reading a book? Read it! Or eating and reading a blog as you eat? Do that then. Check mail if you feel like it. Tweet if you like. Talk to someone if you like it. Whatever you feel like in the moment! Of course you have a time limit in your mind – I’ll take a break for the next 30 minutes or 40 minutes – whatever it is. But till then, unwind!
What’s taking conscious breaks?
Let’s look at it this way. What do you normally do? If you are like I was – you mix up your work and breaks. You might work for a while, and then check email – maybe reply to it, call up someone, get back to work again, catch up a snack, get back to work again etc. So the point is – you never really worked on full throttle – you were never hundred percent efficient. And how could you be, when your attention was not one pointed? And, you didn’t take awesome fun breaks either. The breaks were just fillers - the I-have-to-get-back-to-work thought was there even when taking a break. Result? Work and productivity are NOT awesome because of mediocre attention. You don’t feel refreshed and recharged after the break. And overall – after a lot of “work-time” you feel okayish, not really satisfied.
On the other hand, when you ONLY work while you work and kick off everything else, switch off your phone, Don’t CHECK or reply to mail, don’t tweet – JUST work, you’re giving your 100 percent to work. So work is awesome. Then, you take a break ONLY when you finish a certain chunk of work – so you know in your mind that you HAVE completed a portion of what you wanted to – that you have been productive. That feels good. Then you ENJOY the break – do whatever you feel like doing – you betcha that feels good! And no work-still-left thingy ails you since you know you’ve been at your best today. And after the break you feel refreshed and energized and get roaring back to work.
Here’s a table.
There you go. Why wouldn’t it improve efficiency and productivity?
Let’s say you’re studying for an examination. You’ve got 3 chapters to rip apart. So you think in your mind – I’ll complete the first chapter and then take a break. So you switch off your phone, disconnect the internet, close the door and focus like a laser beam. You’re half way through when you feel – come on, I need a break. But then you realize that you DID promise yourself an AWESOME break after you complete the first chapter. So you slog ON and complete your chapter. You feel like you’re on the top of the world! Its break time! Now you’re hungry. You eat. You call up your friend, login online, go out to shop, watch a TV show – good God – so many options! Half an hour is up. Oops, break time over. Back to focused work. You again switch off everything but work. And Focus like a….yeah laser beam.
And the break. Then work. No wonder then that you rock the exam. :)
The same can be true if you work in an office. You’ve got these tasks 1, 2 and 3 to finish. You decide to take a break after task 1 – tell everyone to get lost till you complete this task, switch off ALL distractions and FOCUS. THEN, after the task is up, you rock the office, have the entertainment of your life time for a stipulated time and then get ready – refreshed that you are – to rock your work again. Cool! Before you know, you’ve rocked your day!
I know! All this improve efficiency and productivity crap is simply put– Work while you Work. Play while you Play. And you and I know that’s the way to go.
However, do we really do it? Don’t we just mix it all up and experience a blur of okayish work and okayish play? I myself realized a few days ago that I sucked at working while I worked and playing while I played. And when I started really doing it, I got such stupendous work results and feeling-good results, that I came right here and blogged!
Why not try working AWESOME while you work for a day? And taking AWESOME breaks when you are not working – for a day? I mean, what’s wrong with doing it for ONE day? You can REALLY test it anyway right?
Trying to improve efficiency and productivity can be fun. :)
By the way here's another using
"dead moments" tip.
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