I spotted a nice image at Google+ today. It is an infographic about how to be productive. Since I am hitting my productivity’s lows nowadays, the advice and tips contained in that image appealed to me so much, that I had to write about it.

Maybe it makes you more productive as well.

how-to-be-productive

How to be Productive (Photo: Funders and Founders)

Staying productive while working from home

By now you all know what I do. Working from home, although a dream job for most people, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure you have flexible working hours, no bosses and freedom. But after a while you realize you have to begin actually making money, you have to push yourself harder, you have to work more hours, you have to become more productive. It turns out that you don’t have flexible working hours (if only you could work 24 hours a day), you have no freedom (sorry friends, too busy working at home) and you have the worst boss in the world (yourself)!

The first time I realized all this was several years ago. Today, I still feel the same way. So, here are some of the tips shown in the image that I believe will make me more productive.

Thuth be told, a couple of those tips slipped through my mind at times. Maybe this infographic convinces me to put them to the test!

The 80/20 rule in productivity

This famous rule is also known as the pareto principle. It can apply to many fields, like for instance in social media, where 80% of your content should be informational, and only 20% should be self-promotional. The rule applies to poker as well, according to this well-written article of PokerNews:

  • Pareto Poker Principle #1: 80% of your wins comes from 20% of your opponents.
  • Pareto Poker Principle #2: 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your plays.

The past few years I have noticed this: 20% of my work in any field (being either gambling, investing or writing and blogging) is responsible for the 80% of my results! This means that only 20% of my efforts produced most of my success (if any). The other 80% of my attempts, although time-consuming, produced just one-fifth of any accomplishments (or nothing at all)!

Decide the outcome before even starting

This is so true when we discuss about investing or gambling! Do you start gambling with real money? Do you want to trade stocks without first thinking of a plan? That’s a sure way to the poor house.

Always write a strategy or business plan, back-test and forward-test your strategies and only when you know of the desirable outcome, should you risk your hard-earned money.

Saving time by eliminating trivial decisions and learning to ignore

Oh, the time! You wish the day had 48 hours but unfortunately it doesn’t. But even if it did, our lifetime on this planet is limited.

Life is simple, short and we only live once!

So, we should try to make the most out of it!

  • By eliminating trivial decisions like what to wear, we save time. That isn’t such a big issue when working from home. Still, knowing what to wear for the gym in the morning allows me to save a couple of minutes later when I am working.
  • By learning to ignore we save time. Ignoring may be misunderstood as indifference. We are not indifferent of our loved ones; we just ignore stuff that are really not that important. So, excuse me for not listening to boring stories or how wonderful the braid maid’s dress was! I have more important things going back and forth in my mind, thank you very much.

The infographic continues on time-saving techniques like:

  1. Get delivery.
  2. Set a daily routine.
  3. No meetings unless they are decisive.
  4. Do not answer the phone.
  5. Tune out the news.
  6. Limit email replies to one per minute.

These are all fine suggestions, but I have some doubts over a couple of them. Like for example delivery food which isn’t usually healthy food. Yes, we save time but don’t we want to feel energetic and healthy when working?

Do not answer the phone unless it’s an emergency, or limit email replies (even avoid replying!). True, I hate talking on the phone. It distracts me. I do not like meetings either. Yet, at some point, I need to go out with friends and socialize in the real world. Try calling your friends and arrange a meeting after you have turned them down innumerous times or did not return their calls! Oh, and get a crystal ball to be able to tell emergencies from others!

Regarding replying to emails, I am always getting back to all the people who contact me! And I do spend more than a minute for each reply, no matter the cost. That’s why I am writing and networking online, remember? To communicate with people sharing the same passions or hobbies! Why would I ignore them in the first place? However, I do delay replying to them and I mostly reply during weekends.

Tuning out the news? Ok, that may be a bit of a shocker for most of you, but I tend to agree there. Just not entirely. I remind you that it’s an infographic and Anna tried to squeeze everything inside in such limited space. So, by suggesting to tune out the news, perhaps she wanted to emphasize the importance of not spending all your free time reading the news! It’s too easy to get absorbed by the news and visit one website after another, jumping from one news story to the next, mixing it up with funny videos and strange photos.

Yes, we all do that. And it’s unproductive. If I feel carried away by the infinite source of information circulating on the internet each day, I close all tabs of my web browser immediately. There’s no easy way to say: “that’s the last story I am reading today, I will quit as soon as I read it”. Because it won’t be! Stop reading any more news and begin working! Besides, you already know of the most important news of the day. Carry on with your real work!

Of course, the best advice regarding time is: Treat time as your money.

I have to get up, can’t afford to sleep more, need to be productive

This is how I greet my wife in the (very) early morning almost every day. And it’s not good. And I know it’s not good. Yet, I still do it.

That’s why I want to talk about the “sleep more” and “take naps” advice in Anna’s infographic.

I feel like sleep time is a waste of time. My body of course disagrees and makes a point late in the evening, forcing me to lay down. I give in but when I open my eyes at a random time during the night, I always check the clock. If it’s past 4AM or if I have been asleep for at least 6 hours, I am leaving the bed.

Why? Because my work is just 10 meters away from the bed. In a matter of minutes I can be up and working. And have I told you how much I enjoy my work?

Therefore I like to get up too early in the morning. That wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for two things:

  1. At noon I feel exhausted naturally. I restrain myself from taking a nap though and continue working on the computer. I suppose I would have more energy at noon if I hadn’t woken up so early.
  2. I am too tired to stay awake past 9PM. Although I am managing to lie down at 11PM, I cannot concentrate enough during the evenings.

So, there are two periods during the day when I cannot perform as good as the rest of the day: at noon and late at night. Anna suggests taking a nap. However, when there’s a family around the house, it’s not so easy to just “take a nap” whenever you feel so. In addition, working from home requires quietness. And when the house is quiet, it’s not the time to take a nap! It’s time to work undistracted!

And now if you’ll excuse me. I need to decide which unused clothes I am going to discard. Oh, wait. I know! None! And that is why I will never be the most productive person! Too bad.