Rethinking Productivity as Choreography

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Despite the profusion — or distraction — of helpful productivity advice, sometimes I feel like I’m trying to squeeze my working style into systems that just won’t fit. That’s why I appreciate ways of thinking about productivity that encourage you to align how you work with your natural inclinations and rhythms.

When you’re stressing about how you’re not getting enough done, it’s easy to stop listening to yourself and to ignore those rhythms. Psychiatrist Dr. T. Byram Karasu points out the cost of such heedlessness:

Like all of nature, human beings are biologically programmed. Our psyche’s interference with the physical rhythms and cycles is detrimental to our bodies, only to be negatively resonated, in return. This vicious circle is a distinctly human phenomenon. No other living creature steps out of pace with nature and survives. Chronobiology (the biology of time) asserts that our bodies have an internal rhythm or music, which we not only can but should tune in to.

Being productive isn’t about a continuous, speedy march from waking to sleeping, though it can certainly feel that way. What if instead, the ideal was not just about crushing your to-do lists but attunement, aiming not for time and task management but for tempo management?

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Want to Be More Productive? Design a Better Break

What do you do when you take a break during your workday?

When I ask people this question, most of them tell me they get on their smartphones or visit various websites:  news publications, Facebook, Instagram, and other online sources of information and entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with doing that — sometimes looking at pictures of cute baby animals is exactly what you need to get through the afternoon.

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But have you ever thought “I’ll just check Facebook for a couple of minutes” and then look up shocked to realize a half hour has gone by? Or notice after catching up with news or social media that you’re returning to work feeling more tired or unfocused than you did before your break?

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More Energy at Work! The Best of the Internet

Before your relaxing weekend, check out some of the best of what we shared on the interwebs this week:

One snippety tool that companies like Foursquare, Buzzfeed, and Shopify use

How crafting media empire Annie’s uses iDoneThis

De-stress in 15 minutes

How to REST YO’ SELF for more energy at work.

imageDundee’s Tips of the Week:  Did you miss our exclusive content in the iDoneThis weekly newsletter? Sign up here!

Shut Up and Listen! The Best of the Internet

Doggies at workHappy Friday! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week!  

3 Reasons to Shut up and Listen Well.

Self-control depletes itself and your motivation. How to refuel from within.

5 hard questions to ask yourself during a conflict.

Why your phone is snuffing your creativity (and is like an endless supply of Cheetos).

The perks at Buffer? Daily improvement and free books.

Dundee’s Tip of the Week:  Hey IDT teams! Do you only want to see certain team members show up in your email digest? Log into iDoneThis, and under the calendar, click on “unfollow” or “follow” to choose whose dones you want to see in your digest.

Schedule Nothing: The Best of the Internet

Happy Friday! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week! 

We make a lot of mistakes at work. This is how you stop repeating them.

Schedule nothing.

Don’t confuse busyness with business.

Manage your energy instead of your time.

Don’t buy dissatisfaction created by someone else’s criteria.

imageDundee’s Tip of the Week:  Did you know you could use an Alfred app extension to record your dones? Now you can update dones throughout the day with this shortcut!

The Procrastination Workshop: The Best of the Internet

Happy Friday! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week!

Marc Andreessen’s surprising procrastination antidote to super-productive superpowers.

Don’t waste productivity superpower on getting just any old stuff done. Get the right stuff done …

By saying no to spending time thinking unhelpful thoughts …

And by taking time for yourself. Pick your battles and recharge your human batteries —

So that you can face the question with that strong heart of yours, of what would you do if you weren’t afraid?

And stay open to face fear, for “being vulnerable, especially in our work, is fucking terrifying” and that vulnerability is where empathy begins.

imageDundee’s Tip of the Week:  Display entries for multiple days at once  by clicking and dragging over the days you want show on your iDoneThis web calendar.  Your path o’ progress will show up in the right!

Find Meaning in your Work: The Best of the Internet

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Get ready for the week ahead by catching up with the best of the stuff we’ve shared this past week!

Gregory Ciotti’s fascinating guest post about the science behind energy management and how it improves your work!

How Wistia uses iDoneThis to get stuff done, the Wista way! Word.

How to deal with psychological fatigue and create more energy and positive momentum.

Finding meaning in your work isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Overcome the blech of unpleasant tasks by checking out these tips.

The Peak Time for Everything

A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively.

Sue Shellenbarger explores The Peak Time for Everything for WSJ.

Some takeaways: Nap around 2pm. Tired times make for better open-ended thinking. And retweeting chances increase between 3-6 pm.

Circadian and natural rhythms, and thus peak times for doing stuff, depend on the individual. Read on for some pretty interesting ideas on how to set your activity to your inner clock.

Take Control Of Your Life

[W]e have one reservoir of willpower. It’s a highly limited resource, and it gets depleted by every act that requires its use.

Tony Schwartz, proponent of maintaining your energy levels for sustainable productivity, offers a Master Plan for Taking Control of Your Life back from all those temptations that ultimately deplete your tank of willpower.

His two tips related to eating and sleeping are great reminders to attend to your physical health in order to give your best during the day:

4. Sleep as much as you must to feel fully rested.

Enough with the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality. That just makes you a zombie.

And:

6. Eat energy rich foods in small doses at frequent intervals.  

Schwartz recommends refueling at least every three hours. Skip the mocha choco latte yeah yeah and donuts, and snack on lean proteins and complex carbohydrates for longer lasting energy boosts. Here are some helpful meal and snack ideas.

Summer Lovin'

The Path to Productivity

The Path

Avoid burnout:

Stop measuring your people by the hours they put in, and focus instead on the value they produce. Make that your primary measurement. Then encourage your people to intermittently renew during the day (and on weekends, and over vacations), so that when they’re working, they’re really working. That’s the path to true productivity.

—Tony Schwartz, “The Productivity Myth”, HBR.

In his post, Schwartz talks about 3 R’s as key to sustainable, meaningful productivity: rest, renewal, reflection.

Taking breaks from work to rest, renew, and reflect is integral to working better.

Work less. Produce better.