All the productivity systems ever invented, all the to-do list sticky notes ever stuck to your desk, and even all the caffeine you’ve ever injected can’t stop you from slowing down and losing focus.
Great productivity isn’t about working all the time.
Great productivity is about being effective when you’re working.
And one key to being effective when you’re working is to make sure you’re not working all the time.
It’s impossible to go 100% all the time. Even the most energetic, dynamic and psychotic person can’t be giving it all, constantly. That means you need to take a break.
What’s important is recognizing when your attention and energy are waning. Wait too long and you’ve just spend a half hour staring at the computer screen getting frustrated by your inactivity. Take a break too early and you’re eating into precious productive time.
For starters, I try working in short bursts, which means I can take a quick break between tasks. But often I move from one task to the next and don’t take a break, so this isn’t a perfect system.
I use a few key indicators to tell me it’s time for a break.
- Boredom. When something starts to feel tedious or uninteresting, take a break. Come back in 15 minutes and look at the task with fresher eyes, or start on something else.
- Distraction. When you’re constantly checking email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. it means you’re losing focus. It’s important to admit to yourself that you’re distracted – you’re no longer being productive – so take some time to “goof off” and catch up on your friends’ whereabouts and activities before getting back to things.
- Lack of Precision. When your work gets sloppy or you can’t get something quite right, take a break. Lack of precision will lead to frustration, more distraction and less productivity
- Being Unconscious. When you suddenly crash face first into your keyboard…it’s too late.
What’s your best productivity tip? We want to know!
Help us write The Ultimate Guide to Productivity by posting your productivity tips on your own blog. Get others to do the same so the group writing project meme spreads and we can collect everyone’s ideas.