5 Common-Sense Ways to Remain Productive

After reading several books (6 Books Every Programmer Should Own) for programmers on increasing productivity, you start to realize that a lot of it is common sense.

You even to notice a common theme amongst blogs about productivity.

Whether you are a programmer or not, here are 5 common-sense ways to remain productive:

1. Ignore Distractions

Whatever is keeping you from doing your work: e-mail, instant message, phone calls, loud co-workers, etc.

Find a way to stop these things from disturbing you:

  • close e-mail and instant message applications
  • put your phone on Do Not Disturb (DND)
  • wear headphones (you don’t need to listen to music)
  • move to another location to work

2. Organize

Look around at your desk. Are there papers thrown everywhere, food, or other junk laying around?

How about your desktop on your computer? Do you have 100 icons that you don’t know what half of them do?

Keeping items in a easy to reach location makes sense if you use them frequently, but having too many items defeats the purpose.

Start organizing both our physical paper and computer files in a logical location. Only keep those that you use very frequently out in the open.

3. Record Your Thoughts

Have you ever had a great idea or thought come to mind, but you didn’t have anywhere to record it?

With the technology that is available today, you should have no excuse. Most cell phones will have some of voice memo application that you can use. If not, you can purchase an inexpensive audio recorder (similar to Norm MacDonald “Note to Self”).

If you are old school, you can even carry with you a small notebook and a pen or pencil.

Have you found yourself in a meeting where you scribbled a bunch of information on a whiteboard?

I would still recommend recopying your notes to paper or computer, but before you erase the board make sure you take a picture with a digital camera or your camera phone – you never know when you might need to refer to it.

4. Whiteboard Long-Term Goals

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you think of things that you need to do over the long-term (over 1 week deadline).

Don’t stress yourself our by constantly saying to yourself “I’ve got a ton of things to do.” Get a whiteboard at work and/or home and start to write down your long-term goals. Things always seem much more manageable once you write them down.

You can even use different color markers to indicate priority (e.g. Red-High, Green-Low).

5. Daily Task List

Similar to having whiteboard for long-term goals, start writing down your short-term goals (less than 1 week deadline) on a piece of paper or post-it note – keep it next to you.

Over the week as you accomplish tasks, cross them out!

The sense of accomplishment that you feel by completing goals will motivate you complete the others.

None of these items are products of intense scientific research or even that expensive to implement – just common sense.

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