Want to be productive? Don't do this.

Geposted von Ellane Weedon am

Apparently all it takes to increase productivity, clarity and creativity is to follow a couple of simple steps morning and evening.

I tried it, and so far, so good.

Handwritten productivity note: The best way to learn what works is to try it for ourselves.
Yes it is.

Do you check your messages first thing in the morning?

Benjamin Hardy of Thrive Global makes it clear that checking messages, email, or social media immediately before going to bed isn't doing you any favours. Doing the same thing soon after rising might actually be sabotaging your brain's inbuilt ability to make connections and come up with creative ways of approaching tasks and challenges. He claims that 80% of people focus on allowing outside influences to pour into their brains at these key times. Are you one of them?

What might change for you if before bed you scrawled down the things you're trying to get done, which in effect will direct your subconscious to set to work coming up with solutions? This could very well be the key to getting your personal and professional productivity in line.

Bullet Journal with a difference

Sílvia Bastos seems to be channeling the popular Bullet Journal concept but giving it a useful twist for those who find themselves drowning in bullets. Perhaps more so for people who never caught BuJo fever in the first place. It's cool to think that what I do and think today can benefit my future self.

Don't think, just write

For the moment I am concentrating on Hardy's advice, and so far it's been great! It's even helping this chronic insomniac to sleep better. There's something very cathartic about dumping out all those swirling thoughts and nagging worries before going to bed.

The bullet-log idea is still percolating in my head, though that article is already influencing me to write more deliberately in my 5 year diary. I'm on year 2 of this one—a highly recommended practice that doesn't need a purpose-built book: any 365 page notebook will do. Check out this one from Officeworks if you're in Australia.

Handwritten productivity notes in lined notebook with 5 colour pen
Productivity notes in my handmade 2019 Hobonichi-inspired planner

Take home points

  • Focusing on output immediately rather than input before and after sleeping leads to clarity and creativity
  • Directing the subconscious to ponder specific topics is a skill that is worth the effort to develop
  • Choosing not to input external information into the brain at specific times really does increase clarity and creativity
  • Daily thought-dumps can be incredibly useful, but more so when a limited number of key points from the mass are curated and catalogued

Paperless vs handwritten notes

It's only a 5 minute read for the first article and 15 for the second: 20 minutes well spent. I took hand-written notes because that's how I get things to stay in my head, and I find that notes written on real paper are more enjoyable to look back at later.

As much as I love the whole concept of being paperless, there's something about all the stylistic influences and unconscious micro-decisions that go into handwriting that make it stand head and shoulders above neatly organised digital files and folders, even if the latter wins on long-term accessibility.

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