Be Productive: Play Rugby, and some other stuff
Here are six techniques for increasing your productivity as an entrepreneur or freelancer. Some you’ve read before, some may be more novel.
Medium has hundreds if not thousands of articles about productivity. But it wouldn’t be very productive to try and read them all. What follows is a collection of techniques you can use to focus and increase your productivity that I’ve used at various points in my career.
Set a Schedule
Schedules are important, so much so I wrote a previous post about how vital they can be for you and others when you’re freelancing or starting out as an entrepreneur. Having a schedule takes some work, refining it takes even more – not much mind you, but it still takes some. The hardest part is sticking to it.
I mentioned previously a need to test your schedule and collect data to improve your schedule. All of that can be done with a simple spreadsheet. To do so you may want to track the following:
- Most Productive Time of day,
- Amount of work completed,
- Research/Brainstorming Time,
- Personal Care,
- Home Responsibilities,
- Meetings and Travel Tie,
There’s a lot of ways to breakdown your day, how you used your time and to what effect. The basic idea of it is to find the ideal time to get work done. This can be especially effective for work where you need to simply sit down and produce, such as writing or coding. Whatever you seek to track, keep it simple and don’t obsess over your numbers. Minor improvements aren’t going to payoff when balanced against the time spent obsessing over your numbers. Aim to find the time when you work best and schedule around that.
Break Your Routine
Routines are great for producing work regularly. But there comes a point where you need to break that routine to rejuvenate your creativity. That’s not to say you shouldn’t return to your schedule, but this more than taking a break. Something too few people are doing these days as the startup community has become obsessed with workaholism. Take a break. Not just from work, but also your routine.
Just do something different. Learn something new. Play a sport. Swap your hours. Anything that jumbles up how you’re approaching your work will provide you a refreshing boost. But of course it’s not something you should be doing every week, because then what’s the point of having a schedule at all.
Basically, play rugby. Rugby more than going to the gym is going to do more for you not just because it’s both strength and cardio training, you’re socializing. It’s very easy to go to the gym, run through your routine there with your headphones in and never encounter anyone beyond passing them in the hall or asking them to spot you.
Team sports offer so much more. And a sport like rugby is a change in paradigm for those who have played other sports. You’re going to be learning new skills, thinking about how to move in a different manner, socializing and exercising. In essence you are utilizing your time more effectively by playing rugby than doing anything else. Plus you’ll gain a great bunch of drinking buddies, if that’s your thing. For those in Finland, why not play rugby for the Warriors Rugby Club in Helsinki.
Your time is precious. That becomes readily apparent when you’re trying to keep to a schedule that allows you time for friends and family, learning, exercise, volunteering, side projects and of course work. That’s why you aim to have all your activities do more than one thing. Like the previous example of rugby, there’s no reason you can’t do multiple things at the same time.
Volunteering, as mentioned in a previous post, is all well and good. But you can and should aim to get more out of it than just experience or a network. The same goes for teaching, it doesn’t have to be about just getting paid. I myself am teaching a course at Arbis on making text adventure games in the autumn. It’s an opportunity to write more, design some games, and improve my programming skills.
Have chores to do or errands to run – listen to podcasts. It’s a create way to learn new skills, generate new ideas, or simply hear the day’s news. If you find a good podcast it can make some very boring and tedious activities more enjoyable. There’s lots of ways you can combine experiences, just remember to put down your smartphone.
Watch What You Eat
Your diet affects you in a whole slew of ways. A good diet isn’t just providing you all the nutrients and energy you need, but works with your lifestyle and facilitates it. For every person that can be different.
I know for me any sugar at lunch means I suffer in the afternoon. I just want to sleep. Caffeine doesn’t help. And as much as I love coffee I rarely drink it after lunch now. I only learned this by paying attention and experimenting with my diet. I’m nowhere near some biohackers or fitness fanatics, but adjusting what I’m eating has meant I have the energy to work more and more effectively.
So do a little research into what you eat and how it affects your body, then experiment. You may find yourself improving not just your health but your work as a result.
Cut It Out and Concentrate
There’s so much to distract us these days. Phones, social media, games, babies, etc. Just stop all of it and work. Use an app, don’t use an app. Turn the wifi on or off. Only answer emails at set times, or zero inbox. Whatever you do just aim to reduce the amount you do, and the amount you commit to.
If you keep yourself focused, you’ll feel centered rather than pulled in a thousand directions. This will lead you to being and feeling more productive. At the very least you’ll stop reading this blog post and get back to work.