Arwa Mahdawi spent a week trying weird and wonderful productivity hacks so you dont have to
You know those people who get up at 4am to do yoga and write 2,000 terms of their novel before heading off to a high-powered job?
Well, I’m not one of those. My mornings usually involve reaching the snooze button as many times I can before my exasperated girlfriend physically pulls me out of bed. I’m good at focusing when I have an imminent deadline, otherwise I find myself spending half the day Googling” ways to stop procrastinate” and singing to my dog.
Recently, I decided I’d had enough; I was going to expend a busy week doing every productivity hacker I could find and see if I could turn myself into one of those uber-efficient weirdos you read about in magazines.
My experiment has now concluded( thank God ). Here’s a rundown of what worked, what sort of worked, and what you probably shouldn’t try yourself at home.
I supposed I’d kicking things off my quest for productivity by hypnotizing myself into taking up more effective habits. While hypnosis may conjure up images of cruise-ship magicians, a study by Stanford researchers found that the brain really working here differently under hypnosis and there’s growing consensus that it can be an effective way to “reprogram” your thinking.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any Stanford scientists on hand to hypnotize me so I had to try the DIY technique. Self-hypnosis, alas, is a lot less arousing than it sounds. It’s a form of meditation where you put yourself in a deep nation of focus and then reprogram your intellect by recur corny self-affirmations such as” my drive and ambition allow me to achieve my goals “.
Some people swear that self-hypnosis has changed their own lives but, unfortunately, my attention-span is too low and my cynicism levels too high for it to really be effective.
Verdict : C +. I wouldn’t rule out trying this again but it’s definitely not a quick fix. Also, don’t try this in a public space like I did or you will look like a right knob.
2. Virtual co-working
I work from home a lot. In order to stop myself from binge-watching Netflix all day, I’ve found it useful to set up remote work dates with other freelance friends. We text each other our goals, have a period run “sprint”, and check in with each other at the end.
For my experimentation I decided to up the bet and try a( currently free) service called Focusmate that lets you virtually co-work with strangers. You introduce yourself at the beginning of a 50 -minute session and share aims; then you keep your cameras connected while you work, keeping an eye on one another. I was a little creeped out by the idea, but it’s actually not as weird as it sounds. In fact, I saw the set-up even more effective than checking in with a friend via text – it’s a lot more difficult to lie.
Verdict : A +. As more people go freelance and remote run becomes the norm, I can only imagine that virtual co-working services are going to boom.
3. Listening to a video game soundtrack
There are numerous conflicting studies about whether background music helps you focus. I’ve tried following the advice from all these with limited success.
I hit gold, however, when I receive an article in Popular Science in which the writer claims listening to music from video games when you need to focus was ” by far, the best Life Pro Tip I’ve ever gotten or dedicated .” That’s a bold claim but I’m now inclined to agree. Video game music is the perfect get-stuff-done soundtrack because it is specifically designed not to confuse you. It can also construct you feel like you’re completing an important quest rather than just trying to do your damn expenses.
Verdict : A. Definitely think it helped. I’m still trialling different soundtracks but I can recommend Battlefield 1 and The Sims if you want to give it a go.
4. Guzzling a brain beverage
There’s been a recent boom in nootropics , non-prescription” smart-alecky narcotics” that promise to boost your brain power.
If a magic brain pill voices too good to be true it’s because it is; most nootropics are snake oil and some can be downright dangerous. Nevertheless, I believed I might as well try a brain supplement and reached out to BrainGear, a new drink that promises to” lift brain cloud “. Speaking over the phone, the founder assured me it is absolutely not a nootropic, and is scientifically backed by neurologists from Stanford University and UT Austin. She sent me six small bottles in the mail and I diligently chugged them every morning. I did feel a little more mental clarity, but I think that may be down to the placebo effect and the power of a regular morning ritual rather than any magic formula.
Verdict: B . I believe most nootropics are a waste of fund. However, it’s possible that taking supplements might be beneficial if, like me, you largely subsist on a weird Freelance Diet of potato chips, yoghurt and coffee.
5. Microdosing amphetamines
Microdosing LSD to boost productivity has been all the rage in Silicon Valley for years. I’ve been seduced to try it but I haven’t because LSD is illegal and I’m brown. Weirdly, you merely seem to get away with boasting about doing illegal things if you’re white. You know what’s not illegal though? Taking Adderall because you have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder( ADD) by your doctor.
Any Americans reading this will know what Adderall is but if you’re not from the United Nation then Adderall is basically cocaine in prescription form.( Narcotics are totally fine when they build pharmaceutical companies huge profits, you assure .) It’s used to treat people who have ADD but is also abused by huge amounts of people who don’t have ADD and merely want to focus. I tried microdosing it this week to see if it would help kick my brain into gear. It constructed me feel a little nauseous but was great for powering through boring chores. It did not, however, do anything for my imagination or improve my reasoning in any way.
Verdict: Please merely take Adderall if you have ADD, I am not trying to get deported here.
6. Personal Kanban
I’ve downloaded numerous productivity apps and they all seem to be a lot more trouble than they’re worth. The best tech for time-management, I suppose, is good old-fashioned Post-it notes. However, I was going a little bit overboard with the Post-it notes( my wall was like a slightly psychotic piece of modern art) until I read about the” personal Kanban” technique in Oliver Burkeman’s Guardian column.
This involves limiting your work-in-progress to a small number of undertakings. Use Post-it notes you visualize your to-do list in three columns: to do, doing, and done. There should be never be more than three chores in “doing”. While this sounds ridiculously simple it’s a surprisingly effective style to stop yourself doing multiple things at once and get overwhelmed.
Verdict : B +. My house looks a lot less strange.
7. Superspeed your podcasts and audiobooks
My girlfriend once accidentally pressed the button that attains podcasts play at 1.5 x velocity. She didn’t realize such a button existed and just thought the new trend in podcasts was people talking like chipmunks in order to get through more material quickly.
When she informed me of this, I attained fun of her for a very long time. Turns out she’s getting the last laugh as speeding up your podcasts is actually all the rage among efficiency nerds. There are even special apps that let you accelerate voices to 5x speed- which is ridiculous. I’ve spend the week trying out 1.5 x speed; you get used to it very quickly and can tear through a lot more content.
Verdict: -A. I still opt listening at normal velocity but this is definitely more efficient. Not going to tell my girlfriend that though.
8. Hot yoga
Do you know how exhausting trying to be productive is? Extremely. It’s so depleting that I couldn’t summon up the energy to start writing this article until a few hours before my deadline.
That’s OK, I believed, I’m a pro at getting things done now. Turns out that’s not actually true: my deadline whizzed by and, in a panic, I emailed my editor to tell her I was going to have to go to hot yoga( like a basic influencer) instead of filing on time.
I used to sneer at people who did hot yoga but, to my humiliation, I have found it an amazingstress-reliever. We live in a world preoccupied with productivity, but sometimes you really need to focus on your inner self rather than your output.
Verdict: I don’t really think that judgmental grades align with yoga. Namaste positive here.
Read more: www.theguardian.com