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I get distracted. Not only ipso facto do I have mild case of attention deficit disorder, but I am also what one calls in marketing an “early adopter”. Early adopters love new shiny things, as do I. Most of time the connotation is that of people of love gadgets and camp out outside of Apple stores 2 days before the release of its new phone. Not me, not really a material guy. What’s my poison? Web based business or marketing apps, news and social networks.

A Partial Fix

It’s really quite bad. At work I find that the open space in which I work drags my attention away from doing what’s needed… colleague talk, a barking dog, someone making popcorn, etc. As such I have been using different coping mechanisms:

  1. Time tracking – reminds me when my mind wanders, asking what I’m working on and tracks my time.
  2. Task lists – I use Trello to see what tasks I and my team need to do (everyone can see this), append a time and date to them and place them in the order in which they should be done. I use the weekly, not monthly, calendar view to de-clutter.
  3. Notepad – one which has dates, each day is a page for notes, thoughts so I can trace back to what was going on in that day in sequence.
  4. Weekly planner – mapping out the week ahead of time, which is private (as opposed to Trello), its nice quality and accompanies me in daily meetings to make sure the team is on track for its weekly goals.
  5. End of week report – by the end of the week I submit to myself and my team to me a report which outlines: what was accomplished this week, what is planned for next week, what issues we ran into and what is a recommended remedy for them.

All these items are a great structure for me, which has made me over time much more productive and reduced stress from my work.

Get High for Productivity

However, the most interesting hack I have found is in getting high. As in sky high. As in flying. What did you think I meant? I find that when you fly, somehow – you get more done than ever before. I have seen this in myself and I have seen this reported by friends and witnessed it first hand when flying with colleagues.

The conditions are quite different than a normal work environment. For starters, you are trapped. You can’t go anywhere, there is very little chance of a distraction blowing through your work environment. You can’t get up and walk, or make popcorn, or have a small snack. There is no water-cooler chatter, or coffee to be made. Walking around isn’t appealing and well, if you paid for Internet you feel you put money in and thus need to make a return on it? Also, while I’m writing this post, there is not electrical socket for my laptop to charge… so for some reason I have been extremely prolific, finishing many tasks I have been putting off. Yes, on a 4 hour battery.

Go Nuts, You Have To

As such, to use a metaphor the best weird little productivity hack is to use a metaphorical straight jacket. Limit your motion, sensory stimulation (sit in front of a blank wall), auditory variance, that you are not connected to the Internet (use outlook, no need to be connected) unless completely needed to answer Internet specific tasks and that you stay seated for 50 minutes at a time.

I wish I was airborne all day long for the work yield I get out of flights. For the time being, I will just have to re-create that unpleasant, yet productive work environment.