My March Productivity Challenge has been a failure. I was going to write an excuse, that it’s been a hectic month, I started a new freelance job, left my service job, finished my community arts course… But in all honesty, I just didn’t push myself enough to achieve my productivity goals for March
But its not all bad. I did start using some tools to help me be realistic with how I spend my time. I got a diary like Conni explains in her blog Freelance Muscle and and I note down how I spend my work day from when I get up to when I go to bed. I set aside time on monday to plan my week and saturday to reflect on it. Rescue Time has also been a great tool. It’s a program that tracks how you use your time on your computer and categories it into groups like Learning and Entertainment and gives you a daily productivity pulse. Some of mine have been high, 80%+ some shockingly low, 34%. It’s been a great wake up call and has made me start evaluating just how much I get distracted when I work online.
Secondly I realised that I was trying to tackle too many challenges at once. Sleep earlier, 90 minute focus routines, better email routines…. So I was relying on willpower and remembering what my challenge actually was. Which didn’t work. Everything else seemed to be more important. So I’m going to focus on building one new habit at a time as Scott H. Young advises.
Productivity Challenge April
So this April I am going to combine my Making Challenge and my Productivity Challenge.
Making challenge- I will write 500 words a day on a topic have some knowledge about. Inspired by James Greig’s How to write every day for a 30 days. I will write a blog post every day for the 30 days of April. I chose 500 words, because it’s an achievable amount of words to write daily.
Productivity challenge- I will do a 60 minute focus block everyday writing my 500 words. My aim is to do it in the morning, with the internet switched of and full screen to take away any distractions. It means I will have to prepare before hand, so no surfing the internet to read articles.
I’ve set up my word count spreadsheet using James Greig’s template, so you can keep up with my progress, which will help hold me accountable.
One of the trickiest things that I’m discovering about being self employed is taking time off. I remember the reply after comenting to a freelance computer specialist at my cousins party, that it must be great having all that freedom. His answer was that it means you cant take a holiday because you wont get paid. I understand that feeling now. But this weekend I took a short four days break in Scotlands beautiful Highlands and it was amazing.
I hadnt realised how much I needed a break. It is hard to take time off when your getting paid is dependent on you working. There is a great post by Seth Godin on this.
We had three days up north in the beautiful Highlands and Isle of Skye with the most glorious weather. It made me realise I need to start taking more breaks, setting boundaries between work and the rest of my life. Working from home can blur this. Work continues in the evenings and weekends. But just having time away, no computer, little internet really cleared my head. I got back to work this week with my energy, motivations and smile up again. 🙂
Here’s some great advice on the power of creative sabbaticals from Stefan Sagmeister on TED.
Let me know if you have any tips for taking breaks 🙂
As I said in my previous post I’ve started to make progress in my productivity but I’ve also realise that it’s me that’s making myself so busy. So for March my Productivity Challenge is to set up a better way to increase my focus when working and email routine.
To be honest my February Productivity Challenge has been a mixed bag. I have made some progress but perhaps not as much as I would have liked.
- Getting up by 7.30 now instead of 8/8.30 like I used too. I took the tips from Zenhabits.net, and started slowly, getting up 15 mins earlier each week and it’s worked.
- I have also been starting work by earlier, perhaps it’s because I’ve been working from home lately. We just got an office space and I’m going to keep on with this.
- Made an ideal schedule and working towards it
- Working in 90 minute focus sessions I feel like my productivity has dramatically increased because of this, but I still get distracted by my phone or the Internet.
- I’ve started planning my week on monday and making a to do list in the morning before I start working.
- My focus still isn’t great as I said earlier I get distracted every time I go online and go on random tangents.
- Still need to set boundaries work still goes on till the night and I’ve realised it’s because I make myself busy. I need to start setting limits, work time, home time, e.t.c, if not I’ll just burn out.
- I’ve not been very good at unplugging/ taking proper breaks between the 90 minute bursts, instead of checking my emails.
- I need to start sleeping early using the same technique of small habits. I’ll start by going to bed 15 minutes early this week.
My productivity challenge for February is to create my ideal schedule and start working towards it. This is gonna be difficult, so I’ve tried to preempt the hardest parts
1. Getting up early
This is difficult. Nothing seems that important at 7 in the morning. But as Bg Fogg says, I am starting small. I’m aiming to get up by 8 o’clock every weekday this week.
2. Focusing while working
Whenever I sit down to work, I try to multi task, but end up surfing the internet (I have a problem with having too many tabs open). Taking inspiration from Tabless Thursday, I’m going to start by having no more than 6 tabs open at any one time. Maybe one day I’ll achieve 1 browser tab pinnacle. I’m also going to start with a 90 minute focus block, on my most difficult task for the day.
3. Setting realistic expectations
I don’t know if it’s over optimism, but I seem to have a problem with setting too many things to do. I seem to start the day with a list of 20 things, and then end up disappointed because I can’t finish them all. To combat this I will start the day by writing my list on a post-it note. If it doesn’t fit, then I know I’m being way too ambitious.