Wednesday, 10 October 2012

My Secret To Productivity: Trains

I don’t want to alarm anyone but today’s post is brought to you from the web app version of Write or Die (tagline: "putting the prod in productivity"). This ingenious application is a way of suspending the sword of Damocles over your own head, as the site describes:
Write or Die is a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences.
Productivity in action
In order to try it out I’ve given myself the target of writing 500 words in the next 20 minutes and I’ve set it on the punishment level labelled "Kamikaze". According to the app if I stray over my self-allotted time I’ll find all of my hard work starting to delete itself and an audible punishment. Better get on with it then.

Although Write or Die is one way of focusing the mind, the modern worker really has no choice but to accept that distraction is part of office life. It’s one of the ironies of the workplace that often they’re not terribly conducive places to work. Between telephones (mobile and landline), faxes, emails, the internet, more email and colleagues it’s a wonder that anything gets done at all.

Almost as if to prove the point I’ve just had to take a phone call which has left me with five minutes before the Kamikaze punishment is unleashed…

Now I like a good interruption as much as the next butterfly-minded future-orientated CEO. But after a while that leads to my desk looking, as our cleaner tells me, like a deep litter bedding system for a small rodent. So what to do with all that "stuff"?

For me one of the most productive places to work is on the train. It’s one of the many things that I’ll miss about leaving the National Housing Federation. Once on the train,I would colonise a table and spread the six inch high bundle of papers removed from my desk the previous night across one side. My mission was that I had to have read and worked through all of the papers by the time I got to London. My own two hour spring clean. If running is essential for clearing the mind and allowing fresh thoughts to percolate, then a train journey is perfect for pushing aside thought and allowing laser-focused productivity.

What methods do you have for increasing your own productivity? I'm happy to share any brain hacks that you have discovered. I wouldn’t suggest you try the Kamikaze setting of Write or Die – I won't spoil it but I will tell you that it’s not a pleasant conclusion…

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