Submitted by Gavin Bowman on Mon, 2006-08-21 09:17.
In previous posts on Codesnipers, I’ve talked about a few anti-burnout productivity tips, and about my own attempts to implement them. Over the last few weeks, I’ve discovered an effect similar to the yo-yo weight loss/gain that dieters often experience, and learned that, like Nicotine patches, staying sharp and getting things done requires willpower.
This is one of the best productivity tips I’ve ever had. Turning off the new mail sound is a step in the right direction, but if you really want to get some work done it’s best to close it completely. Open it up every hour or so (less often if customers don’t email you), the rest of the time it’s best closed.
I slipped out of this without really noticing. Occasionally I would leave it running while I worked, it seemed harmless enough, but whenever I was slightly stumped by some code, the temptation to switch to check email was way too high. Before I knew it, I was switching to Outlook every 10-15 minutes all over again, and all my productivity gains were gone.
Taking a day off
You can’t keep working 7 days a week without eventually breaking something. Even if all you do is check email, read a few blogs, or check into some stats, it’s all work, and your brain won’t be recharging properly. Taking one day a week where you don’t do any work is a great way to stave off burnout.
My day off is Saturday, I don’t usually check my email, or use my laptop at all. On Sunday I prepare for the new week, round off any loose ends from the previous week, and write Monday’s blog entries. About a month ago my wife started working some Saturdays, so I tried to swap my Saturday and Sunday routines. I thought it would be easy, but switching routines takes self-discipline and time to acclimatize. I’m getting there now, but in retrospect I’ve had a pretty frazzled month. It’s scary to think that I probably felt like that all the time before I started taking a day off.
80/20ing your feeds
It’s easy to be overloaded by all the information flowing through your internet tubes each day. RSS is supposed to make your life easier, but I think it increases the potential for information overload. Bob Walsh suggests applying the 80/20 principle to your information feeds, basically, splitting them into two groups, the 20% that matter, and the other 80%. This grouping should allow you to keep up with anything important to you, while keeping the rest of your channels around for when you have the time to browse.
This worked well for me at first, but eventually I developed the habit of reading the 20% folder, then reading the 80% folder. Every single time I opened up NewsGator. This was very bad news, but I’ve admitted the problem to myself now, and I’m starting to rectify it!
These are all great tips, but it doesn’t matter how much time you spend learning useful tips unless you back them up with the will to put them into action and stick to them.
I started bringing all these functions back online last week, and already I’m feeling more productive and more refreshed.