7 Productivity Hacks for the Laptop Warrior
This year so far I’ve hit up Toronto, Montreal, Mexico City, Ubud, Bangkok & Chiang Mai and during that time I’ve been working on an app to help those of us fortunate enough to be able to work from anywhere, with just our laptops, find the best coffee shops/cafes to work from.
Now I like to think of myself as a pretty productive person however when the only person you have to answer to is yourself, your office is a coffee shop and work time is whenever you say it is – it’s really easy to convince yourself now is not the time to work…
And that’s where the following hacks for staying productive while working from your laptop, anywhere you like, come in.
Routine is important
I like to work from the time I wake up, usually 5am, to at least midday after which my brain stops firing on all cylinders so pretty much anything I get done after that is a bonus. For you the times may be different, maybe you’re a night owl and your preferred work time is 10pm to 3am (been there, done that, loved it) however the key thing here is to train yourself that at a certain time is when you get work done. While we might not be the biggest fans (understatement?) of the 9-5 one of the advantages it provides is a consistent routine with a consistent amount of hours a week during which you’re being (or at least pretending to be) productive.
Embrace the flow
I don’t know about you but when I’ve decided I’m going to do something at a certain time I’m going to do something at a certain time. The downside of this personality trait however is that often I’d find myself in that state of flow – you know, where it’s like whatever you’re writing, coding, creating, building etc is just falling out of you, effortlessly, with no end in sight – but still want to stop whatever I’m doing to go do that thing I planned to do at that specific time.
My advice to you – cancel that thing. When you’re in the flow you are super productive, you get so much more done, you work that little bit longer and it’s not every day you find yourself in that state, so don’t waste it – ride it until you run out of caffeine. and then go do that other thing.
Don’t work where you play
Okay that’s my corny play on words of the more profanic well known phrase I’m not going to repeat here but the tip here is simple: Allow your brain to associate your living room, bedroom, favourite restaurant/hang out spot etc with relaxation, fun, downtime, anything that isn’t work.
And you want it to associate work with your favourite coffee shop or cafe or wherever else it is you like to work from. It makes it so much easier to switch on and off in relation to work when it’s a physical switch and not just a mental one.
Have “free” days
I used to hate having days where I wasn’t working and therefore wasn’t productive. Hate them. Okay I’m lying, I still do. But I got over it in favor of being more productive on the days I do work. How? With this idea I call “free days”. Those days where you wake up and you just want to do anything other than work – don’t fight it, it turns out the world won’t come crashing down if you don’t send that email, do something else. Go swimming, go hike, go binge Desperate Housewives if that’s your thing. You want to enjoy what you do and forcing yourself to do it might end up having the opposite effect. So when that feeling hits you, take a free day.
Make a plan
I recently heard someone say, for those of us who tend to “wing it”, something along the lines of “try to write down a plan of what you’ve got to do today to reach your goal – then you realise you have no clue what you’re doing”. Maybe a bit harsh but is it wrong?
If you’re someone who likes to keep everything in your head you might’ve already found it hard to focus on the path to your goal, it makes it hard to see just how much progress you’ve made by the end of the day because you might forget things you’ve done, and it makes it hard to look ahead at what’s next to do.
In contrast, plans keep you focused, they keep you organized, they let you know at the end of the day what’s been accomplished and what’s next to do.
Remember, the human brain can only hold onto to 4 things in working memory at any time, a plan is just 1.
Have a side hustle
I know right?! You already have a hustle, it takes up 24h of your day and now I’m advocating for more on top of that??! Damn right. Why? Sometimes (only sometimes) the procrastination monkey gets me. He tells me to go on YouTube, he tells me to go on Facebook, he tells me to shop on Amazon, he tells me 101 things to do other than what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that if you can’t beat him – mislead him, and that’s where the side hustle comes in.
Resistance doesn’t care what else it is you do (for those of you not familiar with the War of Art, you can substitute resistance for procrastination, time wasting etc etc), it’s only goal is to stop you doing what you’re supposed to do. So when I find myself in the company of resistance, my brain refusing to take part in the task at hand no matter how hard I try – I go work on my side hustle. Not only am I nursing that procrastination itch but I’m being productive while doing it. Win win.
Eat that frog (or make little wins)
For those of you not familiar with Eat That Frog the concept is relatively simple, decide what’s the most important task of the day that you are absolutely dreading – and do that first. Once it’s done, everything else seems wayyy easier and much more amicable.
However for those of us who just can’t stomach that frog right now there’s always plan B – make little wins.
Pick 3 to 5 of the smallest, easiest tasks you can do right now that have some importance (aka not busy work) and do those first. Write them on a list, tick them off as you go, by task 5 you’re on a roll, look how much you’ve done, now keep going!!
And that’s it, my top 7 tips to staying productive when the only person you have to answer to – is you.
About the Author
Since launching his first app in 2012, Rob has personally released over 20 apps, with 300k+ downloads, has been featured on Lifehacker & even BBC News, and in that process has crafted himself a work/life balance that allows easily flipping between working, creating & travelling. He’s just released his first DN focused app – Coffee Working & is about to launch his first app dev bootcamp in Bali with @codingnomads. You can find him everywhere @lowcarbrob.
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