What are these habits? I would like to develop some good ones. And I'm willing to try several out and report back how they work.
Which daily habit has been the hardest for you to pick up (or change) and why?
My second most significant is probably reading in place of momentary distractions.
I'm applying nearly all my "free time" (what's left after the family, work, exercise and sleep that I consider essential) with an attack on my backlog of books.
I wiped my devices and rebuilt them with only the essentials - no more newsreaders or social apps and I've greatly limited my web browsing.
Not only am I working towards a goal and learning new things, I'm spending it on a book or two rather than 100s of throwaway articles and blog posts - all but eliminating "context-switching" as I feel like I can keep 2 or 3 concerns in mental cache and get the full value of the time I spend on each of them.
But since I started to do at least 1 hour of exercises EVERY DAY (and for me is important to not miss any day), I sleep only 6 hours a day and is when I reach my peak productivity.
Hardest habbit to change is time wasting. Reading HN, Reddit, News and forums where before you know it, that two minutes has morphed into an 45 minutes of mind numbing distraction. Yes I can block those pages but its more the need for a distraction than the site. Its a hard habbit to break. But its a part of my Depression, the lack of concentration.
I started out using Harvest, but since I'm less interested in 'what project(s) did I work on today' and more interested in 'how productive was I today?', I've switched to RescueTime.
RescueTime isn't new (YC 08) but they do have an updated interface, so it feels much better than the first time I played with it years back.
Pro-tip: I created a Fluid ssb pointed at my RescueTime dashboard that I then pinned to my menubar, so I can check my stats anytime. Here's the icon that makes it look good: http://bit.ly/1bhewsA
It's a great way to know what you're wasting time on.
I used to try and force it. If I was just not feeling it, I would suck down caffeine and charge ahead. Work generated from those blitzes always sucked.
I'm not advocating being lazy but sometimes just take some time to goof off and you'll be ready to go again.
I typically go for a run or hit the heavy bag in my garage for an hour or so and after a shower I'm much more productive than if I stayed in front of the monitor.
I feel more healthy now instead of waking up to the night, I start my day with a bright sky !
No matter what gamers might claim, there's really no benefit in spending 8 hours a day chasing virtual goals. Cutting back on my gaming sessions resulted in me suddenly having a lot more time for things like sleeping and learning, and has truly made me a better person overall. I only regret not killing the habit sooner.
I can credit it with getting me through seven novel drafts, through a successful Kickstarter campaign, and even with helping me find this new, much better-paying job.
Best part about pomodoro? How easy it is to begin using it!! You don't need a lengthy book or a long lesson. It is just as simple as using the damn timer.
I don't know why I became lazy and stopped using it. When I tried it for a week I was definitely at a higher bound of productivity for my school work. Totally helped me to gain more time to focus on my own projects. Time to start up again.
not sure if it qualifies as "a good mac app"
Exercise and staying active makes me feel awesome, but sometimes I don't have time to make it to the gym.
* Sleep ... 7.5 to 8 hrs, no more no less
* Wake up at 8/9 to maximize hours of sunlight
* Lift weights 4+ times per week... the four hrs you spend in the gym will be made up for with 10 hrs of productivity throughout the week
* Healthy diet (high protein, low carbs, low sugar, fresh food)
* Avoid HN
* Start working right when you get up
* Answer emails / do other menial tasks when tired
* Get rid of all notifications: phone silent/vibrate, no Gmail/fb/twitter notifications outside of the platform itself
I started a new job, and moved from Perl to Python Django. The organization was fairly new and there were two of us in an office, so not much in the way of distractions.
My productivity went up an order of magnitude, and Django made programming more interesting / fun again. There was (and still is) a lot of work to do building and maintaining the database. I generally tried to focus on the 80% that takes 20% of the time.
A year later I get an extra boss (who knows nothing about databases). He likes meetings. He is pedantic, and focuses way to much on the 20% that takes 80% of the time.We now have 4 people in the office (previously 2). I am constantly asked to switch task, and fix Excels (I have been arguing for two years that we shouldn't be using Excel for data uploads as it is so error prone).
Anyway, I think my productivity is around a quarter of what it was two years ago, and my work is a lot less satisfying. And I am on HN right now.
So for me, productivity gains:
Working in a quiet office.
Getting to use language / framework of my choice.
Learning new interesting stuff.
Focusing on one task at a time, until it is finished.
Two managers pulling in opposite directions. One cowboy coder quick fix king. The other pedantic and focusing on spelling mistakes over new functionality.
Tedious repetitive work (fixing Excels that are used for data uploads) - really kills motivation.
Too many meeting. I don't get many full or even half days uninterrupted programming.
1. drink a cup of coffee
2. take a good shit
3. tackle a big problem
Here's what's on my list:
Do: take a cold shower; meditate; throw yourself in; work on hard problems.
Don't: be annoyed or upset; lie down unless to rest without computer.
It's working for me pretty well so far. For me the list's main value seems to be in those small, split-second decisions: if I'm choosing between two things to work on, my mind will suddenly remember "work on hard problems," and I'll choose the harder one.
(I don't count to ten)
This applies for small things, but most things that people get distressed about are small.
Sometimes I even make an effort to think to myself, "How would X respond to this situation?" Replace "X" with anyone of your choice who would probably be a lot cooler than you under stress: Jesus, Spock, Batman, James Bond, Yoda, Mr. Rogers, or whoever the heck epitomizes "chill" in your worldview.
It sounds cheesy, and it probably is. But it works. Chances are, the "X" of your choice wouldn't react hastily or let small things get to him. Shit happens to everybody, but stopping in mid-emotional-flareup to process an appropriate response is a skill. And skills can be developed.
For example, when someone insults you in an offensive way. Why be annoyed? If it's true you should fix it; if it's false then he's mistaken. By remembering that, when I see that I'm about to become annoyed, my list reminds me to stay mellow.
"Don't let yourself be annoyed by minor things for very long" might be a more realistic take.
- Sleeping at least 7 hours, 8 is better.
- Waking up earlier - I thought I am a night owl, but I realized that I am not. Morning is the best time frame to be creative and productive for me (and for many people actually).
- Always keeping my stuff ready. This means clean email folders, clean notes, clean desk etc.
- Watching the food what I eat (I am not on a diet, but I do not eat pizza and chinese food every day e.g), the drinks also (tea instead of coffee), and keeping attention to breaks while I am working
I also pay attention to avoid disctractions while I am coding. Every morning when I sit down in front of my monitors I read my RSS feed/twitter/personal mails first. This is good to start my brain at the morning and also keeps me away from checking these at the rest of the day. A psychologist told me once at a training that your mornings should start with something they call 'warm-up'. This is mine. Some people do not need it as they can warm up while they are travelling to their office or just after they get up and yoga for example.
Ah, and one mor thing for the sleep part. I - personally - don't like when I need to fall asleep during watching a film or a part of a TV-series. It is also not the best when I just turn off the computer and jump into the bed. I always go to bed with a book in my hand. This relaxes me and when I feel I can sleep right now, I just turn off the lights (or my ipad). A few minutes of meditation is also very helpful for a good sleep.
Hope I could help!
I'm having trouble falling asleep after going to bed (~2hrs), or waking up during the night or early next day.
Would you please detail more about the meditation part?
What I do actually: I just close my eyes, try to relax, and concentrate on my breathing only. It is more a relaxation than a mediation maybe. Sometimes I keep thinking nice things which make warm and nice feelings, just to go away from my current state. At first it is very hard to forget the "chaos" in your head (I was always thinking about deadlines, bugs, appointmens, personal problems and stuff like this), but if you practice it will be easy.
Seeing a clock all day brings you out of the present moment - your mind wanders into useless thinking about how many hours until lunch, or until I go home, or even more negatively, "I've been stuck on this problem for x minutes."
Most importantly, for me, is to avoid those websites even during my "breaks." If I need a quick break, I'll physically get up and away from my computer. Otherwise that "five minutes" usually ends up being closer to an hour or so.
I am a coder and I feel like I need to use a lot of my brain during my working hours. Working out (could be lifting weights or even just running or crossfit stuff) helps shift the focus from concentrating on algorithms and design and to just getting from point A to point B or lifting x weight. I know many friends who tried working out and couldnt get themselves to commit. The difference for me is that, I am motivated by an athletic goal that I set for myself and hence work towards it.
Sleep is probably the most important "habit" you should have. I personally find that after a good night of sleep, I am extra productive during the day and get more tasks done. I can think clearer and able to code better/faster. While number of hours of sleep is important...so is quality! An example of quality sleep is sleep where you dont wake up in the middle of the night to hit the washroom or out of panic that you missed something in your code(I used to have many of these haha).
Sleeping more. I remain under-rested, especially since my day-jobs have always frowned on naps, but I'm making slow improvements. You may not realize how much of a difference it makes until you actually get a good night's sleep.
Getting better sleep. Get tested for sleep apnea. Avoid blue lights for at least an hour before bed. Find someone or something you can cuddle with in bed. I'm serious about the latter; we're a gregarious species and sleeping alone is unnatural and stressful.
- Not have young kids
- Make a todo list the night before, and give yourself an easy goal to start the day.
- Consider your brain to be a muscle, and treat it as such: nurture it, exercise it, let it rest. Let it rest can be things like spending time with friends, or doing whatever you want.
- Mindful meditation.
Have a nice morning ritual (go have a healthy breakfast outside, read the newspaper).
Start working on the most difficult task after.
It's simple. Execution is the hard part.
I am the opposite of this. I try to tackle a small problem or two in the morning in order to improve my mental state. If I'm able to get things done quickly, then it sets the tone for the rest of the day.