It’s the time of the year for low productivity and minimal motivation. Whether it’s a rut in the semester or a case of Garfield’s Mondays, nothing is being done. Or worse, nothing is being done well. I can’t speak for everyone, but I, for one, do not feel awesome if I am constantly brain farting. My spread of words this week attempts to lay out all the tried-and-true tricks of getting things done. So if you are hitting a mental wall, try out these techniques to avoid ripping your hair out, because wigs are expensive, and your mental health is valuable.
- 45-15 rule: The more and more work I have to do, the less my attention span likes to stick around. Episodes on Netflix aren’t more than 45 minutes long, so why should your work sessions be any longer? The 45-15 rule dictates that out of the 60 minutes in an hour, you spend 45 minutes being 110% focused on your work, and 15 minutes being completely unfocused and mentally elsewhere. The goal is to avoid being physically sedentary for long periods of time, divide information into functional fragments that the brain can handle, and treat yourself to a mental recess. For example, I go to town on my work for 45 minutes, and then have a mini dance party for the 15 minutes. Yes, by myself. No, not in public.
- Loin des yeux, loin du coeur: You know the saying, ‘out of sight, out of mind’? This is my way of telling you to hide your phone from yourself, or anything else that may offer an interruption (roommates, significant others, shiny things, etc.). If you’re doing 45-15, come on, it’s only for 45 minutes, you can like that Instapug in a Batman costume during the 15. “But I need to use my phone for music!” If you like to study with music, turn your phone on airplane mode to block out notifications and interruptions. Also, make a playlist for yourself that is 45 minutes long, so you know when to stop giving 110% without maniacally checking your device.
- Freshin’ up: Whether you are situated in your office chair on the Nth floor overlooking some super fly cityscape, or surrounded by stacks on stacks of knowledge in a library, I bet you’re breathing some stale air. Even if only for 15 minutes, walk outside and get a dose of fresh air! (Unless you’re in Beijing, in which case you’re better off hyperventilating into a paper bag.) Still not persuaded? Walking meetings are a thing now. Not only does walking give employees a chance to peel their behinds off their chairs, but the activity and fresh air spark creative thinking and productivity.
Of course, the above points are only suggestions. If binge working for hours on end is your jam and it works for you, stick to it! My one takeaway is to let yourself take a mental recess every now and then, so you can amp up your productivity, because getting things done is empowerment in itself.