Technique to keep the productivity flowing

There are times where I struggle to keep the productivity flowing. I am sure everybody else has experienced this at some point in their lives. The hardest part to keeping the productivity flowing is to actually get started.  Once you get started it is easy to keep on going.  Here is my technique to keep the productivity flowing.

Keep the productivity flowing - Timer Technique

How I keep the productivity flowing

Get a timer

Most cell phones have a countdown timer.  If you have a smart phone you can download one.  Without a timer most of my methods won’t work for you.  A timer is the key.  It is a technique I first heard of on the FlyLady website.  I then heard about the Pomodoro Technique a few years later.  And I read another article (which you can read here) where it tells us that the average human can only concentrate on a task for 90-120 minutes before becoming exhausted.  But I found that in reality the best concentration time depends on the person and where you are in your brain training to maintain that focus.

Find a quiet place

Now I want you to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed (the bathroom is a good spot).  I want you to make yourself comfortable, then…

Set the timer for 5 minutes

If you need longer you can set it for 10 minutes.  Before you hit the start button, you need to know what you are going to do during this time.

Visualize the task at hand

Picture yourself doing the task that you need to do.  For those full 5 (or 10) minutes you must think of yourself doing the task that needs to be done.  Think of yourself as a champion athlete in whatever task it is that you need to do.  You are going to go in guns blazing and give it your all for the next 15 minutes.  Picture the task being completed.  Picture yourself doing it with all your strength, with your complete focus, and picture NOTHING going wrong while you do that task.

I’ll tell you a secret… I do this every single time I have to phone somebody I haven’t met in person.  I HATE talking on telephones.  It is weird but it is true.  My heart rate goes up and I get very close to having a panic attack when the phone call is to somebody I haven’t met in person.  What is worse than phoning somebody I haven’t met in person is when I have to answer a phone that isn’t mine and there is no caller ID so I don’t know who is on the other side.  I cannot do a 5 minute visualization before answering a telephone, but I can do it every morning before the day starts so that when I get a phone call I am prepared.

Set your timer for 15 minutes and start working

So, now that you have visualized yourself doing the task for 5-10 minutes, you need to set your timer for 15 minutes and start working.  You might need more time than this, but 15 minutes is a great place to started.  If you feel you can handle more, increase it by 5 minutes at a time until you feel that you have reached your maximum.

Remember, the trick isn’t to have a 3 hour session and then do nothing throughout the rest of the day.  The trick is to find out what interval keeps you going for 8-10 hours.  For me that interval is 15 minutes + 5 minutes break, and every 4th 15 minute session I have a 15 minute break.

My 5 minute breaks aren’t traditional “get a cup of coffee” breaks, but rather sit back to look at what I accomplished in the last 15 minutes and to quickly plan and prepare myself mentally for the next 15 minutes.

And that is it.  That is how I get started, and keep on going.

On a personal note

I figured out this technique over 3 years ago and it worked amazingly well for my productivity.  When I joined the work force (and left the student world), I found that it was expected of me to be constantly busy for 9 hours straight.  At least that was the impression I got, even if it wasn’t true.

So the technique that I had developed to keep going went flying out the window. It resulted in me feeling exhausted at the end of each work day and giving less than my best the following day.  I became extremely lazy in maintaining my house, wanted nothing to do with my friends (due to being an introvert), and ultimately landed up in a minor form of depression.

It was recently (during some intense reflection time), that I was able to realize that I needed to go back to doing what works for me regardless of what other people thought about my commitment to my work.  If they saw me getting coffee every 90 minutes it shouldn’t matter because I know that it is what I need to give my work my best and still have the energy for my home life at the end of the day.

I started doing this again about 2 weeks ago.  After the second day somebody commented on how I am “on a role” and they are amazed at how productive I have become.  I then knew that it was a mistake to have ever stopped doing what I know worked for me.  I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had just stuck to what worked and not worried about other people questioning my commitment to my work.

You should know yourself better than anybody else knows you.  Each of us have been created differently.  What works for me might not work for you.  Experiment with different techniques of keeping yourself productive and producing.  You will eventually find one that works for you.  When you find that technique, then hold onto it because it is what you need to become the best that you can become.

How do you keep the productivity flowing?

Now I want to know, how do you keep the productivity flowing?  Leave a comment below, or use the tag #AuthenticallyAsh on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and I’ll be sure to spot it!

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2 Replies to “Technique to keep the productivity flowing”

  1. Hello Ash. After nearly 50 years of working in the same profession as you and learning how I can be productive I thought I would leave a comment on your discoveries. You seem to have realized how much a part your imagination plays in being productive; picturing yourself doing the work, going over it and reviewing it in your mind is actually the MOST productive part of working.
    I have a good friend, an art professor who lives across the rice fields from me. In the evenings he sits out on the verandah, with a glass of wine staring at the trees and the sky. His wife asks him “What ARE you doing!” in an exasperated voice and he says “Working.” And it is so true. If I have a big project to work on, as I do now, I spend hours and days in what might appear to an outside observer as relaxation. I go for walks. I cook my food or read a book. I go shopping. I take a long, hot bath in the morning. But all the time my mind is going over the ways I can implement the tasks I need to accomplish. When I finally sit down in front of the computer, it all comes out. Very quickly.
    Your reputation comes from what you deliver. So stay with this thought and don’t feel that you have to be “seen” to be working in order to be productive.

    1. Thank you for the comment and advice Johnathan. In a similar way I have discovered that the planning phase of any project is the most important. Taking a few days (for Large projects) or an hour or two for smaller ones, to clear the mind and focus on the project is the most important.
      After 50 years of experience with your technique, it cannot be argued that what you are doing is definitely what you need to do in order for you to produce results. In a similar way your art professor friend has also found a production technique that works for him. Now that I have rediscovered the technique that works for me, I hope that I never get side-tracked from it again.

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