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How to Stay Productive When the World Is on Fire

Technology and productivity

We all have tools in our pockets to help us.

  • For example, consider using your phone's built-in alarm for taking breaks, or giving yourself a reminder to eat lunch, or taking a screen break to reduce eyestrain.
  • If you find it challenging to work, consider a productivity method like the Pomodoro technique, where you work deeply for about 25 minutes, then take a short break. Repeat four of the cycles, then take a 30-minute break before starting again. There are many Pomodoro apps to help you.
  • Don't forget to use the same technology to turn off notifications and distractions while you're working.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Stay Productive When the World Is on Fire

How to Stay Productive When the World Is on Fire

https://www.wired.com/story/productivity-tips-coronavirus-work-from-home/

wired.com

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Key Ideas

Taking breaks is key to better productivity

The harder and longer you work, the less productive overall you'll be. Research confirms that taking breaks before you're mentally exhausted is essential for productivity.

When you take time for a break, get up and stretch, get water, go for a 5- to 10-minute walk outside into some nature. If you don't plan your breaks, you'll end up taking unintentional breaks like surfing the internet because your brain is searching for relief. You'll end up needing a much longer break to recover.

Setting healthy boundaries

Set your personal boundaries, so you have dedicated time to take care of yourself, your family or household, and your professional responsibilities. You won't be any good to your family if you regularly jump up to respond to work.

The key to success is deciding on expectations, then communicating those to others. You need to get clear in your mind what hours you will be attending to your work. Perhaps dedicate a space in your home as the "office," letting everyone know that you need privacy. Decide when you are "on" and when you are "off."

Technology and productivity

We all have tools in our pockets to help us.

  • For example, consider using your phone's built-in alarm for taking breaks, or giving yourself a reminder to eat lunch, or taking a screen break to reduce eyestrain.
  • If you find it challenging to work, consider a productivity method like the Pomodoro technique, where you work deeply for about 25 minutes, then take a short break. Repeat four of the cycles, then take a 30-minute break before starting again. There are many Pomodoro apps to help you.
  • Don't forget to use the same technology to turn off notifications and distractions while you're working.

Assess your media intake

Be less informed about the business outside your door. There is a point where bad news can wait.

It's essential to take a step back and think about what it means to stay informed. Consider only viewing trusted news sources instead of scrolling through social media. Try to create a list of positive headlines. When something good happens, take specific note of it.

Don't value yourself by your productivity

The goal is to get the things you have to get done finished and spend more time on things that you want to do.

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Flexibility with remote work
Flexibility with remote work

Usually, working from home is about flexibility. Every single person will have a different schedule, which will make them more productive.

Early risers and night owls
  • Early risers may work from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., take a break to get kids sorted for school, then start work again at 8:30 a.m and be finished by 2:30 p.m.
  • Some may sleep in and only start working around 10 a.m. They may stop at 3 p.m. and work again between 10 p.m and 1 a.m. when the house is quiet.

It's not always a matter of early versus late. Some people work longer hours on some days to give themselves a break on other days. It's all a matter of fitting work into your lifestyle and when you're most productive.

Batching for productivity

Batching is a common productivity strategy - group similar tasks together so your brain doesn't tire with too much context switching.

For example, to break your day into three-to four-hour work sessions with two- to three-hour breaks or naps in between. That way, you can focus on specific tasks during each session.

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Make planning a habit
Make planning a habit

Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.

Start by setting the alarm for you...

Align your to-do list with goals
  1. Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can't add "Get in shape" to your daily to-do list, but you can add "spend 30 minutes on my bike."
  2. Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
  3. Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.
Have one daily priority

Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven't crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we planned.

A balm against hectic days that pass without progress is to choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar. If you struggle to select your top priority, ask yourself, when you look back on your day, what do you want the highlight to be? That's your priority.

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Breaks keep us from getting bored

The human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days.

The fix for this unfocused condition is simple—all we need is a brief interruption (aka a break) to ge...

Breaks and brain connections

Our brains have two modes:

  • focused mode, which we use when we’re doing things like learning something new, writing or working) and 
  • diffuse mode, which is our more relaxed, daydreamy mode when we’re not thinking so hard.

The mind solves its stickiest problems while daydreaming—something you may have experienced while driving or taking a shower.

Breaks help us reevaluate our goals

When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. 

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