Be the Most Productive – Environment

I find that comfort is the key to working at your most productive.

Firstly sound, that differs from person to person, some can’t stand a spot of noise, if you’ve watched the TED talk Linus Torvalds: The mind behind Linux, he says that his computer must be so quiet that he must be able to hear his cat purr. Some others I know need to voice their problems out loud in order to work well. I have a friend that loves his screamo music blasting and he works best like that, it really is about what you enjoy doing that makes you comfortable enough to work well. Having something like a TV series on Netflix or watching your favourite Twitch streamer maybe be helpful background noise, enough to fix your boredom lapses but not enough to fully distract you from the task at hand. I think that some classical or subtle electronica works best.

The Pomodoro Technique is interesting, I tried it for about a week and even though I stopped using it, it has some good underlying concepts. If  you are forcing yourself to do some work that is very boring or new and hard to grasp, you may find that you cannot concentrate for hours on end and that is okay. The Pomodoro Technique is based on having 20min working times, with 5min breaks in between, then after 4-5 sessions take a longer 30min break and maybe a bite to eat? I think this is very situational as when I am programming, I generally try to get into The Zone or Flow State, something I mentioned in another blog post, so taking breaks actually doesn’t agree with me that much for things that I enjoy more. Even writing this post is something I do more for myself as therapy to get my thoughts, feelings and ideas onto something tangible, it doubles as a little side project that I tack onto my CV and LinkedIn profile! I’d suggest trying the breaks system if you want to learn something new or you have to force yourself to do some assignment or work that you really detest.

You don’t want to be checking the clock for lunch, have something setup that pushes in and reminds you to eat! If you have been to a casino you will notice that they generally have no windows, and very few clocks, generally one or two in the middle somewhere, a small digital clock. This is the encourage people to forget how long they are at the casino for so they get lost in themselves and spend more money. The same effect can have a positive twist to your working situation but be careful that it doesn’t work too well, I used to have a daily Slack reminder for lunch and a tea break in the afternoon. Now I use Google Calendar, anything that pops up and reminds Jerry for his daily meal breaks so he doesn’t have to keep that on his mind and just focus on the task at hand.

Beyond this there are general well being things like drinking plenty of good water (take advantage of the nice office filters!), eating healthy and having caffeine earlier in the day. The classic three-thirty-itis that hits most of us is usually a mix of our circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) and our body being busy digesting food. I would suggest not to try and force your body to stay alert with a double shot long black, instead understand a bit about what is happening more and help your body do what it needs to do… then have your coffee! First, have a smaller, healthier lunch, this allows your body not to feel that ‘stuffed/bloated’ feeling. Healthier lunch will give you more good energy rather than sugar highs and fat. Also try to help your digestion with something like green tea, lemon/ginger, yogurt, or bananas. I usually have a green tea after a big lunch to help me digest better and faster. An important factor to remember is that the slump will pass, maybe during this time you can slouch a bit an check your emails, or do something less strenuous. After you come back from your slouch, then have that caffeine hit to get through the last leg of the day!

TL;DR

  • sounds
    • songs you know already
    • non-lyrical (electronic/classical are my GOTO)
    • preferably not new music
    • favourite TV show
    • game/hobby/sports streaming
  • 20min work, 5min break
    • learning new things
    • detested work
  • automated reminder for breaks
  • eat healthy, eat small
  • drinks lots of water!

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