How I Become More Productive in 2013

2013 is no more.

I’ve been struggling with too many distractions and interruptions that forced me to make a promise to revenge in the name of productivity. I’ve been doing one way or another to shake things up and counting the seconds on what I’ve done on my laptops.

Before I spit the things out that make me productive over the year, let’s admit some things that were truly distractions.

First and the most addictive one was Twitter. I’ve been struggling finding the way on how to make myself better at handling the Twitter’s stream but finally I found the way how to deal with such a hard-to-defeat distraction.

Second was email. I frequently found myself staring at Gmail more than often instead of doing something real. I do the fast-switching from Inbox, Spam, Trash, and labels such as android-dev, YouTube and Quora Weekly Digest just to see what’s new in it.

Anything else such as Facebook, Google+ and games on my tablet are distractions too, but not really disturbing since I rarely spent my time on those things. Fortunately, I don’t have any account (or maybe I just forgot the password and never logged back in) on Path, Instagram, and a bunch of me-too-chat-apps out there (however, I still stick with Google Hangout, Whatsapp, and Skype).

So, these are the things I’ve made throughout 2013 that made me more productive than ever:

Focus on one, and only one, thing at a time.

This seems obsolete but it’s true. We are a single-threaded person and we have only one brain. Multitasking will make us exhausted and lose focus. What happens when we lose focus? It will reduce our ability to finish something very well. It will also shorten our memory and reduce our ability to remember something, whether it’s important or not. So I gave myself an “excuse” not to multitask and I’m happy with that. Stay focus.

Use gadgets or laptops to help separate things at once.

I used to tweet, post on Facebook, browsing online store, coding, debugging, unit test, Skype call and conference call, and almost everything I do, I’ve done those things on my laptop and it turns out it didn’t work well. This year, I have bought a new dumb-phone (yes, literally dumb), an ASUS laptop, and a Nexus 7 tablet. What’s the idea behind owning multiple devices at once? So I can separate my activity based on which device I currently use. Here’s how I separate them effectively:

dumb-phone: Private call and SMS. Nothing else.
smartphone: Professional/business call, SMS and Email. It also use for doing Skype call, Google chat, etc., but not video call (even though my Galaxy Nexus is capable of that).
Nexus 7 Tablet: Social media, Skype video call, Google Hangout, Games, Note-taking (Google Keep and Evernote), YouTube, Maps, Project Management/To Do List, Manga Reader (yes, I read that too!), ebook reader, browsing on-the-go, Flipboard, and Multimedia thingy (photo, music and video).
ASUS Laptop (installed with Fedora 19): Production server clone, similar production environment, do stuff such as configuring SELinux, nginx, varnish, git server, web cache, load balancer, etc.
MacBookPro (MBP): Development thingy such as PHP, Python, Java, Go, Scala, NodeJS, CodeIgniter, Laravel, MariaDB, MongoDB, git client, and Android as well as browsing, Project Management/To Do List (sync with the tablet) and document-related work.

Here’s the tips:

When I use MBP or ASUS, I should be focusing on development or production work. Things like Twitter, Facebook, Google Chat, Hangout, etc. will not be served quickly. They can wait until I finished. Smartphone will be silenced and dumb-phone will stay as it is (it’s a private number so few people only, including my family, will be able to call that number).

When it comes to relax, I will be away from my laptop and will stay close to tablet. This is the time to switch to entertainment mode: reading Twitter, comment on Facebook, opening Flipboard, or even play games. Important thing such as email will still be seen.

When I’m going out or having a chit-chat with friends, I only bring my smartphone and dumb-phone. No Facebook, Twitter, and Games. Email, business call and SMS, and chat will still be served.

When I’m taking holiday, I just bring my dumb-phone. No email, no business or work-related call and SMS. Just private call (and SMS).

Simple but powerful.

Never open browser’s tab more than 5 or 6

I rarely open tabs on Firefox more than 10 and now I’ll try to stick with 5 or 6. Less open tabs mean I can concentrate on something I’m working on. If there was a tab or more with unrelated topics, I will close the tab. This way, I will never lose focus, again.

Never doing something manually if it can be automated

Compiling code, deploying code to staging or production, sending error log, laptop/desktop maintenance, managing files, photos and music, and almost everything you can automate, just automate. There’s no advantage doing something manually when you can automate it. Find a way to automate things so you can do something else and not be bored.

What’s Next?

I’ll share about how I become more productive in 2013 in terms of software development myself in my next post, hopefully. I really want to include them here but it’s already a long post. I’m afraid it will take much of your time and make you unproductive.

Now get back to work.

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    • Oh, gadget. Gadget itu biar pas penggunaannya, jadi sama seperti transportasi, kita punya banyak pilihan. Ada bus, mobil, kereta, pesawat, dsb. Kita tau mana yang harus dipilih untuk jarak atau tujuan tertentu. Sama seperti gadget, kita tau harus pake apa di situasi yang bagaimana :) Tiap orang memang beda-beda Pak, untuknya cara ini efektif buat saya :D

  1. Nice trick using multiple gadgets to separate those things. My question would be, “how do you manage to bring all of them? do you have any special bag to carry those gadgets?”

    I have “only 4” (plus mbp) with me and I felt they’re already too heavy.

    btw, I got here thanks to HN :)


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