28 June 2008

Kinetic Productivity -- Part II -- Pockets of Productive

Conventional wisdom on productivity lists several reasons for productivity decline, including:

1. Distractions
2. Motivational issues
3. Lack of engery (including mental energy)
4. Lack of tools (spilt coffee on your laptop)

The kinetic productivity analogy goes a long way to unifying these reasons. Unification is valuable because it gives the worker the most leeway in choosing a productivity enhancement plan. For some, motivation is always an issue because they hate their job, for others they get easily distracted by RIF (RSS, IM, Facebook).

So back to the analogy. When in a productivity slump, the analogy suggests that we must do enough work to generate the potential energy to crest the productivity hill. Fine, but how?

There are two ways to get over the hill. One is to build up potential energy by pushing the productivity ball up the hill. The other is to pick a different small hill to climb.

Question: But what energy is used to convert into potential energy (through work). Energy is conserved after all, right?
Answer: Yes, energy is conserved. But energy is constantly flowing back into you when you don't even know it. The problem is having an efficient tool to convert that energy into potential energy (the source of future productivity).

Basically what my theory suggests, is you just have to get out of the slump (whatever way you can) and then you can coast for a while at a high level of productivity. If this sounds like a bunch of hogwash, let me give you an example from my own experience.

One of my biggest productivity drains at night is sleepiness. Big surprise! What I didn't realize is that sleepiness wears off WITHOUT sleep. So the hill I have to climb is sleepiness. If I can get over the sleepiness, I can roll down the hill and be productive for another few hours. I've found that the best way to overcome sleepiness is to wait until your body wants to go to sleep and then and only then start working. Your body will fight you momentarily as you boot up your computer and bring up your spreadsheets, but what your body doesn't realize is that you are breaking down the sleep cycle barrier. You've essentially tricked you mind and body into think it is a new day and it resets a lot of stuff in your brain. Try to think what you did this morning... it will be hard to do!

Okay, so maybe it still sounds like hogwash. And maybe it is. My point is just that you have small burst of productivity and if you can figure out when they usually happen, you can trigger them.

Another example before I leave this pseudo-scientific post. Interestingly enough, I find I get flashes off mental acuity while going to the bathroom. Often this is where I plan much of my day. Don't waste time in the restroom, be productive!

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