My Unique Productivity Hacks

I like to think that I do a good job of getting things done. Certainly the way I do things is not going to be the perfect solution for everyone, but perhaps readers will get some ideas.

Probably the best, most effective and unique productivity tool I use is a custom notification script. I have been running various versions of this code for the better part of a decade now. It is the foundation of how I have been able to consistently maintain this website and write so many blog posts since the early 2000s. The psychological hurdle that it helps to avoid is the problem of “out of sight, out of mind” for recurring tasks. It can watch two types of things for me: RSS feeds – like this blog, youtube channel or podcast, and recently it has been improved to check my Google Drive files. For things that I want to make sure I do I add a check to this script, if the blog/youtube/podcast/file isn’t updated according to my goal schedule then I get an alert. The alert is delivered every hour, after it is due, until it’s done.

The code I use for this is on Github for anyone who would be interested in trying it for themselves.

My next most effective hack for getting more things done is a physical journal. I leave my journal open and on my desk so that it is always front and center. Note taking apps and todo list apps on the computer or smartphone have never worked for me. Again, the out of sight problem. Once the app is closed, I have to remember to check it without having the memory hook that triggers me to check my todo list it gets forgotten too easily. A physical book has a presence, and the act of using a pen to make notes helps to cement those things I write down into permanence. Being unable to copy/paste or delete afterwards are good attributes for commitments not to be forgotten. For the Journal, I roughly follow the Bullet Journal patterns, I write down the date and 3-5 bullet points for goals for things to do that day. It helps to keep my day deliberate.

The final hack I use is a policy of “Just do it!” for small chores. This is a fight against the desire to procrastinate. For small things that aren’t worth putting into my journal as a daily goals like clean the basement or fix a broken toy I try to get it done quickly and move on to something else. Many things, that psychologically feel like onerous chores have a higher perceived time cost than reality. Tidying up the basement usually takes me less than 2 minutes when I time myself. Folding a basket of laundry: less than 10 minutes. If you can keep the list of tasks from building up by knocking off these deceptively small tasks immediately it creates room to breath and relax. Plus it just feels good to get things done. Like you’ve accomplished a lot.

But hey, I’m not perfect, life is always a work in progress. I’m always looking to level up my productivity. If you have your own favorite productivity tips feel free to leave a comment below.