Staying productive during TAPIF
I’m having trouble focusing on my work right now, which makes it the perfect time to write about how I’ve managed to stay productive while I’m here, right?
Here’s what’s worked most of the time (other than today, apparently):
- Forcing some structure on my time: Can’t remember where I first read this, but there’s something called Parkinson’s law where “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I’ve found this to be so true and work more efficiently when there’s some end in sight. While it’s awesome to have days where I don’t have anything scheduled, it’s been helpful for me to plan something in the evening, which makes me work harder in the time that I have available to me and also gives me something to look forward to.
- Another way to go about doing this is choosing to get certain types of work done at places with limited hours. For instance, there’s a library near the house that’s open until 6pm, so I try to do any studying I need to get done there so that my brain knows that I’ll have to move at a certain time.
- Using different places for different types of work: On a related note, I try to stick to studying at the library (which doesn’t have access to Facebook!) and never work in my bedroom.
- Having projects with well-defined ending points: The guilty workaholic in me had a ton of projects planned before I got here, but the ones that I’ve been most successful with and have been the most satisfied with are the ones that have a defined ending point. Whether that’s having a textbook that needs to be finished or an app that I need to get through in a certain number of weeks, I’ve been much more likely to follow through on a project like this when I’m in charge of my own schedule. Granted, not all projects have neat starting and ending points, but even those can generally be broken down into more manageable chunks.
- External accountability: While here, I completed the Couch to 5k program, which comes as a free app. It was helpful to have a little voice telling me exactly what to do, even if I didn’t always want to do it. I also had a friend who I’d tell I was going to the track, which would force me to go as well. There’s a great breakdown of habit formation here that shows that having a certain “location” and “other people” are a couple of ways to have something external that reinforces getting things done.