How To Hack Productivity - The Engineering Way!

The IT industry is known for high pressure and constant change. It is hard to keep up with things at the best of times, so it's important for us to be as productive as possible, especially when the pressure is on!

I have spent a lot of time over the years researching and trying out different productivity methods and hacks, and at this stage have an encyclopaedic knowledge of hacks, some good, some bad, some that work awesomely for me, and terrible for others, and vice versa. The trick seems to be to expose yourself to as much knowledge as possible, then take from it *what suits you* and your way of working.  There are a lot of myths surrounding productivity, and when I decided to research it, I did so with the usual engineers' logical enquiring mind. I was interested to learn new things but was also cautious to ensure that what I was trying had a basis in science and wasn’t simply the ‘trick of the day’ that was un-tested (no fake news here Mr. Trump!).

Like any good engineering project, when you start to evaluate the problem of productivity, you find that it starts to break down into different sections or parts. If you do even one thing from each section, you can make a very positive impact on your productivity. Here are a very few of the areas I have looked at, and some of the things you can do to improve productivity in them,

  • A large part of being productive is having lower stress. It seems that due to our evolutionary past, we are predisposed to being more relaxed when surrounded by, and even looking at nature (in a photo/picture even works!). The Japanese have perfected this to an art and encourage a thing called ‘Forest bathing’, where folks are encouraged to take a walk in a forest/nature on a regular basis to increase calm. Unless you live and work on the edge of nature, sometimes it can be difficult to get this degree of exposure to nature. However, research has shown that even if you look at images of nature and green forests/plants etc you can receive calming benefits, thus improving productivity.
  • One of the biggest productivity killers is interruptions. You know when you are working away and very focused and someone comes to your desk and boom, your concentration is broken and it's hard to get into the flow again. In addition, when someone comes to your desk or sends you a ‘super important can’t possibly wait’ email, it's distracting, however, you don’t really have the time to deal with these interruptions now because you are busy on other stuff. It turns out that a lot of the time when you are interrupted by folk with ‘urgent urgent urgent’ things, they aren’t looking for you to stop what you are doing, your productive work. They are looking for an acknowledgment that their issue is important, and you can assist them with it in some way. Instead of stopping what you are doing to switch to their super important thing, simply acknowledge that their issue is important (to them) and give them a time by which you will look at their issue … note I didn’t say *solve* their issue, because in many cases it's better to assign the task to someone more appropriate or to help the person fix the issue themselves (and learn!). I have found that saying “I appreciate your ‘thing’ is important to you and promise I will look at it in X time” works very well and allows me to manage my interruptions rather than being controlled by them.
  • Procrastination is the deadly mortal enemy of productivity. If you keep putting things off, you will never get anything done, and ultimately not feel very positive about yourself. When we procrastinate, we fool ourselves as to why we don’t have to do ‘the thing#’ now, and why it's ok to push it off until a later time. The truth is that often time runs out for assorted reasons, and we end up under pressure and not doing an excellent job because we are late starting. There are two great tricks I have found to beat procrastination. The first is to plan for failure. This means when you start a project, think of reasons you may come up with to procrastinate, and decide upfront, how you are going to deal with these ‘blockers’. If you work out beforehand how you will push-through the negativity associated with procrastination you are in a better position to dissuade yourself from doing it when it rears its ugly little head. The second way is to have a pay-off. Make an agreement with yourself that if you *are* going to procrastinate, then you must pay for that luxury! … you must give yourself a penalty to trade against the procrastination. For example, should you stay in and study, or go visiting with friends? … if you decide to go visit, then you must commit to not go visiting the next two times you are asked. Very simplistic examples but you get the idea.

I have put together an online course called ‘Productivity hacks’. I would like to offer you as members of the CSharp Corner free access to the course, so have created a voucher that you can use to access the course for free. I can only give out a limited amount of free passes, so going to leave the coupon open for about two weeks then close it – please free to share it with your friends until then!

The link to the course is below, and the voucher code is - CSHARPCORNERFRIENDS

Please Click here for the course.

Now, go get productive!

Allen.

PS: If you like the course, I will add a lot more useful content … it's only the tip of the iceberg. 😊