Another Productivity Drought – Fixing Productivity Leaks

The last four weeks probably constitute the most UNPRODUCTIVE period this year thus far. It is in fact safe, at this point, to proclaim that the period makes up the longest productivity drought I have experienced in the last few years. I am not quite sure what triggered this, however, I somewhat have a sense of WHEN the problem started and most importantly, I spent the last few days thinking about potential solutions.
While, there are SOME new stray variables in my daily waking life–like my shadowing experiment, I cannot seem to account for the productivity leaks. I mean my working week revolves around a typical WORK -> EAT -> SLEEP cycle–I wake up, clean myself, feed, commute to work, [WORK], commute home, feed and then sleep… And so I set out to do what any reasonable person would do–kill the Procrastination Monster.

Quantifying my waking life

When I went through a productivity drought of similar magnitude back in 2011 [1], decided to self-experiment: using Hamster Time Tracker [2], I tracked all activities associated with my waking life between June 2011 and July 2013. And so I pulled up this data to get a better sense of how I spent a typical day back then, and it turns out, constant variables (commute time, feeding, sleep/rest, refreshing) account for an average of ONLY 36.14% of a typical 24-hour day (see Table below). Furthermore, I now know that I have 63.86% of each working day at my disposal; that roughly 15.3 hours. I also know, from previous experience, that I most certainly cannot be productive for 15.3 hours of every day, however, I could structure my day in a way that ensures efficient use of this time.

From the data, I was also able to identify when I am most productive. Overall, on average, I wrote a lot in the morning; read a lot mid-morning; and also did a lot of coding during mid-morning.

Routine and structure

To help resolve my productivity problem, I intend to use the trends I mined from data collection and a combination of solutions that others have employed. Specifically, I have decided to experiment with a combination of the 2-minute rule [3], the 5-minute rule [4] and Tiny Habits [5]. Furthermore, in addition to the usual productivity tools I have used in the past, I have decided to add a few others to my toolkit:

Task Tracking

For the past couple of weeks, I compile a list of pending tasks everyday before I go to sleep. I have found Trello [6] to be quite useful for this. I also experimented with and Remember the milk

Note Taking

I forget things easily these days and almost always move around with a notebook to write down my thoughts. I’ve decided to complement this process with Google Keep and if Keep proves a useful replacement a notebook, I will completely transition.

Time Tracking

I have decided to restart the self-tracking process to get a better sense of how I will be using the 15.3 hours. While Hamster Time Tracker provides everything I need, I have decided to experiment with Life Logger.