To those of you that have fallen into the monotony of Mondays manifesting into Sundays, from March turning into May in what feels like a week – this is for you. Here are some things that helped me break my day up, keep my sanity, and also get enough work done so I am not worried about closing the laptop. Hopefully, this will resonate with some people.
This blog will not do your work for you, and it also might not be for you (half of the readers exit to the left…). The idea is to help out where we can, and at the very least get a couple of shoulder-shuttering smirks. Don’t worry, nobody can see you awkwardly smile so enjoy it!!
I know a plethora of productivity tips came out a while ago telling people to; “find your Zen space”, and that “to best set up your day, you need a rigid schedule”. Oh yeah, and my favourite; “limit distractions”… Like WTF does that even mean? In an ideal world where we all have our own 6G facial recognition, sterilised, orthopaedic think tanks these tips may be possible. But if there are several equally energetic, and impatient, mini me’s running around the house it can be easier said than done. Not to mention that DIY Dublin is trying to give the construction site next door a run for their money.
“Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better.” (Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid, 1984)
First off yes, the Karate Kid is that old, and second of all thank you Mr. Miyagi for showing me the way. But in all seriousness, he has a point. You need a bit of balance – wholesome food and exercise really go a long way in helping your overall mood, energy levels and most importantly (for me) sleep. Work this out in your head.
I am not going to put my Joe Wicks hat on and tell you to leap out of your bed at 6am, quickly pluck your fresh fruit from your avocado-enriched fruit farm and turn it into a healthy MSG free Instagram sensation… besides, it’s not realistic and it’s probably been done before.
But here is a simple set of questions that will let you know when to exercise and what to eat:
· When do you have the most energy in the day? ……. That is when to exercise
· Can you pronounce the ingredients on the back?…… Then you probably should not eat a lot of it
This can really be helped by planning the week out before it starts. Figure out what you like to eat that is healthy. Have a couple options, and that’s food sorted.
To get your 30 minutes of exercise in, make sure you hold yourself accountable. Excuses do not work and it will make you feel more guilty. A good thing I do is get people in my family or friends to do it with me. This is positive peer pressure at its finest. It also takes away the ‘f$@k it I’m wrecked, so this family bargain buster is going to solve all my problems’. Trust me people, it results in pre food coma guilt and you generally feel crap the next day.
“Don’t worry Wilson, I’ll do all the paddling. You just hang on.” (Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), Cast Away, 2000)
So this is a pretty common one for a lot of people. The lack of human interaction can seem unbearable at times. Has anyone noticed that the usual 10 minute morning phone call has manifested into a lot more.. all of a sudden it’s midday.
This might be different for a lot of people. Some people will be feeling like they can’t wait to get away from overbearing and underwhelmed family members. On the opposite end of the scale, lonely Liam would chew his left arm off for some interaction. But one thing that we can all agree on is that it is hard to maintain work and social interaction with your colleagues. A simple chat now requires a ticketing system, calendly and perfect acoustics.. which a lot of the time veers off the point of the original topic which was…. Potatoes….yes, potatoes. Or was it lack of work interaction?
What we have done recently in nineDots is started a precious little thing called “waffle hour”. We are lucky that there are 5 of us so it makes it more accessible. But if you want to do it with your team it’s great. We aim to do it on a Thursday or Friday afternoon and the idea is not to talk about work. For those who are very organised and need things organised, having a topic to talk about beforehand can get people out of their shells. Invariably, like a book club, it usually ends up with a bunch of people talking about everything under the sun with one or 2 members enjoying the new found phenomenon of liquids being delivered to your door… Yes folks, Guinness has grown legs!
If this isn’t an option, picking a topic of memes and/ or Gifs to send over Slack can result in a lot of laughs. We recently discovered how many alter egos Vladimir Putin has and the associated memes and GIFs are fantastic… Such as, Ladimir, Gladimir, Radimir and finally Sadimir. Check them out!!
“Pomodoro technique is not an Italian cooking technique” (Wilson, Random Thought, 2020)
So folks, most of you are old enough and /or sensible enough to figure out what works best for you. I am not going to play Simon says with you and dictate how, why and where you should work. I am sure you have been inundated with different workflows and time management techniques, stating that the average person needs approximately 23 and 1/3 minutes of computer time every half and hour before said person can reach a state of self actualisation … you get the point.
If you hit that rare, sweet moment in the day where the drilling has stopped and your calendar is free from Hangout meetings, this is the time to do your most “complicated work”. On the other hand, if one of your children is suffering from a lack of attention and too much sugar then your job is more difficult. This one can be tricky and is based on your personal circumstances, but here is a simple equation:
(Energy + happy space) x difficult task = Work done
For me personally, I am the type who needs a detailed plan to be productive and I motivate myself before doing something. This generally results in me talking to myself and walking around in circles, but the point is to be in the physical and mental capacity to get stuck in. If not, the day will pass you by and the longer you look at the laptop your motivation and aptitude tends to waver.
“Dear Stress, I would like a divorce. Please understand it is not you, it is me.” (Thomas E. Rojo Aubrey, Unlocking the Code to Human Resiliency)
From my tenure as Dublin’s 162nd best remote worker, I have found that it is very easy to let the day fly by. Be it the 10 Zoom meetings an hour, or the overwhelming feeling that at one point the world was ending – it can all result in you feeling underwhelmed and unhappy with the work you get done, and a lot of the time you can end up working longer and less productive hours. The image of a driver stuck in a mud-filled beach bog stands out. All they are doing is sticking their foot to the floor and getting themselves deeper down Shitt’s Creek with a disintegrating paddle.
It is a classic case of “wow, I feel like I haven’t done enough so I am going to keep on digging”. By no means am I saying shut off at 3pm then go to bed and hey presto! I’m a millionaire – It’s about realising that burnout is a real thing and with the current doom and gloom bubble that we are in, it can get to people.
It is about communication. Don’t be afraid to say “I had a shitty day, I didn’t get done what I needed to”. The act of saying it out loud takes away some of that pressure on your shoulders and a) leaves you accountable for your work going forward.… you know the one, the motivating kick your ass into gear type – not to be confused by its dry sweat, gut wrenching cousin – and b) being honest with yourself and your team is great for your mentality.
So here you are, this is my take on productivity tips… yes it might be more a rant about useless blogs, yes it might be slightly obscure, and yes, it is probably fashionably late in respect to other “productivity tips” – but that is kind of our style here @nineDots. I hope this has inspired you to do some work, or the more likely option… I hope you got some enjoyment out of it