This Productivity Technique Is So Simple It Might Just Work


This post is unusually short. 

It offers a productivity technique. 

It is short because I do not want to overly contribute to the noise of the billion different productivity techniques that are out there. 

I want to convey one that I have been taught and let you play with it. 

The Context

Because of the fact that there are a billion different strategies out there, people often get trapped in thinking that there is one that works for them. I wrote those words very intentionally. 

"Works for them"

The truth is that the technique does not work for you, you have to do the work.

The technique is simply a mental habit that you need to practice. 

Those who think that it is the responsibility of the technique to do the work are the ones who try it once and give up because it "did not work".

The Technique

Try this one for a week, I dare you: 

August Birch, a crime thriller novelist, has a small figurine of Buddha on his desk which he lays flat down when he is not writing and then stands back upright when it is time to write. Not only is it is a symbolic on/off switch for his productivity, but its power resides in his distaste for disorder, so making sure that Buddha is sitting up no longer distracts him and means that everything is in order and he is able to focus.

To him, it is a factor of externalizing the responsibility and taking the pressure off of his willpower. He writes "The object or ritual doesn’t matter. The importance lies in taking the behavior away from the weak force of willpower. When we build a habit attached to a simple object outside ourselves, there’s no more willpower. We’re punching the clock at the gas station. It’s time to get to work." It is a tangible marker that we need to focus, like when the clock strikes a certain time to mark the beginning of an exam." 

Boom:  taking the behavior away from the weak force of willpower.

Let us state it plainly, we Americans give into temptations. Temptations are distractions. We are a horribly distracted culture. 

The only responsibility we can give to some inanimate object is the alleviation of our willpower struggle when sitting down to work. Birch can pretend that Buddha is now watching him when he works so it is like a boss staring at him to make sure the work gets done. 

I dared you to try it for a week, so make it fun.

What is one inanimate object that you could assign the task of being your productivity light switch? Do not say your phone...

Once you choose the object, decide what the on / off looks like.

Finally, commit to time frames of productivity that are realistic. For example, if you know that you have to get up and take a break every hour on the hour, that's fine, but make sure that you turn your Buddha down or whatever it is that you are using. 

Productivity is a muscle that you have to train.