If given the choice not to sleep, most people would take it. If there was a button that would add more hours to the 24 hour-long day, most of us would push it.
But we have to sleep, and there are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day. So our goal should be to be as productive as possible within the time limits we’re given.
There are a lot of tips out there claiming to boost productivity, and in my quest to be superhuman I’ve given most of them a try over the years. Here are my favorites:
1. Work to your natural rhythms. All humans have Circadian rhythms that lead to points of high and low energy throughout the day. For most people, this means they are alert in the morning, get drowsy sometime in the afternoon, and get a second wind in the evening. Find yours and work accordingly.
2. Think back to previous successes. Remember a time in the past where you felt ‘in flow’. Emulate those circumstances.
3. Work in spurts. Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz worked in spurts of 33.33 minutes. I like to do a slightly more reasonable 30 minutes — others prefer a longer 45 or 60 minutes. Find out what works for you and stick to it. The key is to give yourself a break of 5 to 10 minutes in between outbursts and do something completely unrelated to your task.
4. Set reasonable goals. You’re not going to finish an entire book in a day. Set small, accomplishable goals that will keep you going forward but won’t overwhelm or exhaust you.
5. Carry a notebook (iPhone, iPad, recorder, etc.). Always have a way to write down your ideas when you’re not at your computer. It’s at these times when a Eureka moment is most likely to hit you, and you’ll want to have a way to remember it. Trust me, this will save you a lot of agonizing time later when you’re back at your computer trying to remember your brilliant idea.
6. Smile a lot. Studies show you’re more creative when you’re happy. And creativity leads to higher productivity. [Read more...]