Productivity, post-it notes and fruit salad

March 2, 2014

As a freelancer with my fingers in a million yummy pies, I always have a million things to do. On top of that, I’m currently freelancing at a firm where I have a gazillion tasks. These are are all quite varied (and require different mental spaces) and need to be constantly re-prioritised. Queue in: productivity hacks.

I’ve been pulling lots of inspiration from Lifehacker’s ‘How I work‘ series. They ask professionals the same bunch of questions (e.g. “Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?” “What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?”) with some pretty surprising answers popping up.

In particular, I like Maria Sebregondi’s interview because I love Moleskine and agree that paper is sometimes best. Charles Duhigg’s answers also make for an interesting read. Some of his thoughts are downrighthostile (case in point: “There is a dude a few seats away from me who speaks very loudly. I listen to him. Not happily.”) but honest at the same time. It’s fascinating to see someone who deliberately removes all art and beauty from his workspace so that his work is the single most stimulating thing in his environment. Strange to me because I’m obsessed with tchotchkes and find them inspirational rather than distracting.

New productivity gadgets come and go for me, but—like Maria—I prefer plain paper for my goal making. I’ve been doing this for years at various workplaces because there’s something so satisfying about scratching out a task with a big, fat permanent market. I tend to call them ‘fruit salad’ because I list my ‘low hanging fruit’ (easy goals that I can achieve within an hour). And I only ever write the three tasks I’m working on for the next chunk of my time so stay I stay focused. It’s harder to avoid a task if there are only two other tasks you can procrastinate with! If you’re wondering how I get away with only ‘low hanging fruits), it’s because I split up bigger tasks into tinier ones so they are less frightening.

And then I draw some fruit because why the hell not.

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