Last week, I worked diligently to put 8 expert productivity tips to the test to see which would make me most productive.
Wednesday, I listened to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and got 8 hours of sleep. Thursday I stayed off all my personal social media accounts in light of Tara Hunt (The Whuffie Factor author and Buyosphere co-founder) and Steve Pavlina’s (Personal Development for Smart People author) recommendation.
I recorded my results and tracked what tip helped keep me the most productive. This is what I found:
Moving Forward Monday
On Monday I followed Jeffrey Hayzlett’s tip to stay focused and immediately do tasks that would take 90 seconds or less.
Result: Keeping this tip at the back of my mind created that “moving forward” mentality.
My productivity issues always arise in the limbo period between one task to the next, and Hayzlett’s advice was perfect for that.
The Good: This tip was excellent at closing the idle time between tasks.
Content Creation Tuesday
My goal for Tuesday was to harness former Microsoft Chief Steven Sinofsky’s observation that “…being part of an amazing team and making things people are passionate about help [to be productive].”
To test this advice, I was going to work on content creation (the part of my job I’m most passionate about) all day.
Result: Other critical, time-sensitive tasks came up that day so I couldn’t spend the whole day working passionately.
Sinofsky is right—you are productive when engaging in your passion. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Psychology Professor) calls this finding your “flow”.
The Issue: You can’t be in your “flow” all day …that’s why it’s so exciting when you’re in it. Harnessing passion makes you productive, but you can’t just decide to be passionate about every task you have to do, so Sinofsky’s insight doesn’t solve that problem.
(Here, Career blogger, Penelope Trunk lends her contrarian voice to the issue of passion and doing what you love.)
Rested and Inspired Wednesday
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo thought the key to productivity was to “get enough sleep.” So Tuesday night I torn myself away Portlandia, and went to bed at 11pm to get the recommended 8 hours.
I paired Costolo’s advice with the cool idea from LifeOptimizer’s Donald Latumahina to read life stories of great people to feel inspired to get the most out of the day.
Result: Since I usually average 6 hours of sleep/night, I noticed the extra two as soon as I got up. I self-medicate with coffee, so I didn’t notice a difference in grogginess after that; but with extra sleep I found myself more patients to deal with tasks like responding to emails, updating spreadsheets, and transcribing calls.
I loved Latumahina’s advice, but got a bit carried away reading about people’s lives. Put a time limit on your daily inspiration reading to get the most out of that tip.
Two responders told me (in a very nice way) to get off all my social media accounts to get stuff done. So, I followed Tara Hunt and Steve Pavlina’s advice and stopped all recreational social media use on Thursday.
Result: Tara, Steve—you were right! The problem with social media is that one small check sends you on a rabbit trial of different links and people to creep, turning what’s meant to be a one minute break into a 15 minute distraction.
The Good: I took care of smaller tasks during those social media windows. Overall, I was able to check several things off my to-do list revealing just how much time is lost on social media sites.
Marc and Angel (Marc and Angel’s Hack Life) and Elizabeth Harrin’s (PM4Girls) advice basically said to get on with it! We all know what we are supposed to be doing, so rather than hem and haw—just do it!
Result: There could not be a better strategy for dealing with Fridays. Rather than fantasize about the weekend, I kept a list of what needed to be done, and worked systematically to check them off one by one.
The Good: To my surprise, I ended up working through lunch and staying for an extra hour—on a Friday— just because I was so focused to, as Harrin said, “just get on with it.” Interestingly, this focus also kept me off my social media accounts…it didn’t even cross my mind to check. Double win!
The Productivity Challenge Winners
That brings The Productivity Challenge to a close. Thanks again to the experts for the tips, and a special thanks to my winners, for giving me advice that got me in line.
Bronze: Jeffrey Hayzlett
Silver: Tara Hunt and Steve Pavlina
Gold: Marc and Angel, and Elizabeth Harrin
Those pieces of advice worked best for me, but I found them all worthwhile. What is your number one productivity tip? Leave your comments below.
Image Credit, Dell’s Official Flickr Page, Flickr