Sunday, January 08, 2012

Adjustment Week: my excuses and productivity plans

I’m going to call the week that just past my adjustment week. Because I need an excuse for not actually achieving that much. The first few days of the week I battled some mild jetlag after a 32 hour long New Years Eve (thanks to flying against the clock from Seoul), tried not to freeze in our drafty apartment after being in the Aussie summer for 5 weeks, and generally tried to not feel too much culture shock being back in the Middle East.

These are my random achievements of last week: I booked a flight to the UK, planned a driving trip around Scotland, researched safaris in Africa and summer music festivals in Europe, and did about four hours of paid work. I also did a bit of research for our entrepreneurial adventure. I looked at Facebook 500 times. I sent out my first ever e-newsletter using MailChimp. And I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, which is about successful people. I was not a successful person this past week (unless I’m planning to build a career in travel planning. Which I’m not).

Amit, on the other hand, went to the print shop 17 times to prototype the package design for the product we’re launching (more on that later), taught himself how to use Adobe Illustrator, designed his first ever company logo, built a website, followed up leads for photography work, thought up a project to launch Kickstarter (which he also became obsessed with), and was generally productive. Note to self: be more like Amit. Fortunately he sits two metres away from me so I can follow his every move.

I am going to be productive this week. I’m not even using any qualifiers in there like ‘trying’ or ‘planning to’. I have to make this happen.

So to help me with that, here are some tools I’m going to use:
  • Scheduling periods of time each day for completing my ‘to do’ list, and doing this process each morning
  • Looking at Facebook only twice per day (I was going to say once, but I know I won’t be able to manage that) 
  • 20 minute micro-blocking: a technique where you set a timer and commit to doing only one thing for 20 minutes. This really works for me because often I’ll avoid starting something, particularly something a bit boring, or scary. Committing for only 20mins though is not so scary, and once I have done one 20min block, I often keep going. And along comes productivity. I learnt about this technique on the 30 Day Challenge last year.

What productivity techniques work for you? I obviously need all the ideas I can get!


  1. I usually start the day by doing each little task that takes 5 minutes or less to complete. So a series of those, usually take up the first hour but it means that they're not hanging over me for the rest of the day. I like the 20 minute idea and might give it a go tomorrow.

  2. I like that idea Bernie! I always get distracted in the mornings, so doing lots of little tasks sounds like a good way to use my active brain at that time. I started using for a while, and found that it made me do the small tasks at the beginning too.

  3. I always use lists - I get satisfaction from crossing things off to see the progress made - I even do it for the housework on a Saturday (which isn't very popular with Mr E!) And sometimes, if I've done some of the 'quick tasks' already, I still write them down, so I can score them off straight away - I know....bit OCD! PS. When you in Scotland?

  4. Travelkath- hilarious, I understand the satisfaction of crossing things off a list!
    We're coming you're way at the end of May, so I'll message you soon so we can meet up then!

  5. add some of this!

  6. Napping! Sounds like a great idea Hash! And not as simple as it sounds...

  7. I used to write lists. I used to write a lot of lists. These days I prefer to seize the moment. There is nothing better than knowing you did whatever you needed to do in that spare 10 minutes the Gods of Time, so generously delivered you, in-between pegging out the washing, feeding the dog and changing a dirty nappy. I have concluded that over thinking is a health hazard, it essentially is a ticket to the couch of procrastination. Allowing friends to procrastinate with you? Well, bring a bowl of popcorn and DVD box set its going to be a long night.

    I’d suggest, next time you think about heading over to that couch of procrastination, ask yourself this. What I tell myself, I should do, those things, I have to do, are really that necessary? Maybe the answer is simple. Maybe you aren’t really that interested in doing it in the first place. Is doing a whole heap of things you are not interested in really that productive? Every morning I wake up I do my upmost best to live from my heart and not my head. I do this because I know from experience my head has lead me to places of acute boredom where I waste time, like a leaky tap drips water. It’s excessive.

    Before I end this response, I’d quickly like to thank Eve. Not the one from primary school but the naked Eve from way back when, who picked that apple. She picked that apple because it was so vibrantly red, so profoundly plump and she knew that her first bite to her very last would be so sweet. I like that. I like that she is living to her own desires, living from her heart and not some guidelines set by the man in the sky.

    2012 people. It’s the year of dancing to the beat of YOUR drum. Don’t get caught up listening to someone else’s beat….it ultimately ends up out of tune. That to do list that has those perpetual tasks that appear time and time again…. THROW IT OUT. Trust me. It feels so good.

    1. WOW, Catherine, I just love what you are saying. I woke up and read this and it was like a reality check, a bolt from the blue, and I needed it. Seize the moment, listen to my heart. I'm trying, it's hard. I still get distracted by too many things. But things are starting to feel better, heart-wise, because I'm listening to what I feel more. Thank you!