Harness your inner idiot.

Earlier today on a web forum I frequent, someone asked other people what they do to be more efficient at work. I gave him a short list of what I do:

For me, it’s a few interconnected things.

1) Either completely close IM apps, or turn off window blinking notification of a message
2) Put on headphones and crank up good concentration music at a reasonable volume
3) Close web browser and relegate browser icons to desktop only (no quicklaunch!)
4) Remove anything distracting in your field of view from your workspace.

1) Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
2) Wake up 3 hours before work and eat a good, healthy, balanced breakfast
3) Drink LOTS of ice water. It’s good for you, keeps you awake and forces you to take fairly regular restroom breaks, which is a good way to get you up and moving.
4) Try to minimize your carbohydrate intake at lunch, lest you later succumb to Food Coma and try to bail yourself out with coffee and sugar.

1) Make a master to-do list for the next two or three days in no particular order, then blaze through each task until you finish or get sick of it, then move onto another
2) Classify my tasks, roles and responsibilities and devote specific time blocks of one to two hours each day to focus SOLELY on each facet.
3) Work on a timer for 15 or 30 minutes at a time, uninterrupted, then take a short (timed) break to answer messages, browse the internet, etc before returning to work.
4) Whenever possible, make decisions within the space of seven breaths.

As for getting up before work, I usually get up around 5 or 6 every day, and I feel like I have SO MUCH MORE TIME during the day when I do that than when I get up five minutes before work. I get to make my own breakfast, let it settle in my stomach, read, check email, check all my news sites, clean up my apartment a bit, play with my cats, and generally get a better feel for the day before I head into work. By the time I get there, I’m totally awake and alert, and I got all my goof-off bullshit done before I got in. So I’m ready to kick it into high gear and get shit done!

The idea behind all this is that I understand that I can’t really change my core behaviors. But I can erect my own little barriers that take advantage of the way I act naturally, and funnel it into doing something productive.

In other words, I create my own path of least resistance. If I can RAISE the barrier to entry of doing goof-off bullshit like IM and web browsing and playing games, and LOWER the barrier to entry to getting work done, I’ll do whichever takes the least effort. If I make web browsing some big bother, I just won’t want to do it.

Same for goofing off at work, checking news sites, IMing people, and so on. I know I’ll wanna do it. So I just force myself up earlier, get it out of my system, then shift into Work Mode even more easily.

Basically, I acknowledge Jon’s Inner Idiot so I toss him some shiny baubles to make it as hard as possible for him to distract me.

I call stuff like that a “hack,” as in a cheap-fast way to circumvent a problem rather than fix it outright. My own mind is held together by duct tape and rubber bands. 🙂

Because, face it, changing yourself is hard. I do it all the time, but sometimes my Inner Idiot fights back so hard, I decide it’s easier to trick him and give him an outlet for his energy than to try to tear myself up trying to “cure” myself.

Do you use any hacks?

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