Turn the darn phone off!

I have been working home, long before the Covid-19 pandemic made it a requirement for many office workers. In the past, I struggled with productivity when working on multiple projects. At some point, I realized that mult-tasking was a euphemism and nothing more. I learned to focus on one task at a time for an extended period of time before moving to the next task.

Recently, I have found that my devices (‘tronics) have been more of an interference than productivity tools. However, this week I was extremely productive. I focused on several client projects and also made time for my volunteer translations. I was not ovewhelmed and I checked off everything on my list (well almost).

My secret? Every day, I silenced my mobile phone for the entire day. No news alerts sounding off. No phone calls from robocall central. No text messages with smiling or laughing yellow faces. O-F-F off. The result? Blissful completion of work, including a project with an important deadline.

Set the gadgets aside for focused, productive work.

But I didn’t stop there

It’s not just the phone that is clamoring to to take my attention away. I also get alerts from my PC. So I silenced the desktop alerts, too. No pop-ups for news, notifications about computer health, and no Outlook calendar alerts. I know my schedule. No need to remind me every hour about something I know I have to do.

Say No to Social Media and Other Apps

It’s not part of my daily work so unless I am taking a break, I close the social media apps. To get really extreme, I also close the Internet browsers. I even shut off Slack and Teams, too, unless it is required to be connected to my colleagues. Yes, I do sing the praises of office technology—technolo-gee is why we’re here, right?—but sometimes it just gets in the way.

Check in at Scheduled Times

There is no reason to keep my eyes on the email inbox. No incoming email is so important that a reply sent within a few hours is not acceptable. I schedule breaks into my day to read email. Depending on the day, I also go outside and walk around the yard, hop on the treadmill or bike, and practice my musical instruments (and I could always use more practice!).

Other Necessary Inputs

I am a natural night owl. It is painful for me to go to sleep before 10:30 p.m.—literally, because I will wake up at 3:30 a.m., not be able to fall asleep again. My entire day will be ruined and it can take two or three days to recover. Nevertheless, going to bed at a relatively early hou, and sleeping for at least seven or eight hours, is essential to having a productive next day.

Sleep is a key ingredient to productivity.

On the next morning, I start my day with some Bible reading, prayer, light exercise, and breakfast in that order. My morning routine centers me and prepares me for whatever is heading to my desk.

And finally, a little about my desk. My workstation is conducive to focused work. I typically stand when I work but I also have a comfortable chair if I want to sit down and work. I use two monitors and a (mostly) reliable wi-fi connection.

With all these good practices in place, productivity is pretty much guaranteed!


What are your productive working habits? Send them to me in an email and I will update this list. Let’s share ideas!

Published by Be better.

Working on social and economic progress.

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