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  • Welcome to my personal website. My passion is making valuable connections between people and ideas. I’m retained by several organizations to do exactly that and enjoy taking on special projects.

    I’m based in the UK at the moment and hope you will be in touch if you think that I can help you in some way or if you think that we could work together. Please have a read about the sort of things I’m up to.

    Hyper-Productivity

    Thursday 4th September 2008, 9:17am

    Warp Speed by yelovet00.

    I may have discovered (and certainly not mastered!) two recipes for hyper-productivity.  The trouble, they don’t exactly go hand in hand;

    Method One;

    1) Make yourself a cup of tea. 

    2) Close down every web browser window and open your email client

    3) Physically disconnect your computer from the internet completely

    4) Turn your mobile phone off

    5) Open up a blank word (or notepad) document and have a proper notepad next to you.

    5) Work at full speed for two 45 minute bursts, with a 15 minute (complete) break in the middle

    Method Two;

    1) Make yourself a cup of coffee

    2) Open up Facebook, Twitter, Google, Addictomatic and BBC News

    3) Make sure your computer is reconnected to the internet

    4) Turn your mobile phone on

    5) Spend 15 minutes unleashing a flurry of emails to people who you really want to make stuff happen with

    6) Allow yourself to get massively distracted by the first people who come back to, surfing the top of your inbox with delight.

    7) Allow yourself to scurry off down hyperlink rabbit holes not knowing where they might end.

    7) Make long shot random calls to people and companies you feel you just have to connect with
    8) Continue this process for no more than 2 sessions of 45 minutes.  Allow yourself a break from your working area during this time, however don’t slow down during that break.

    I think that if you are able to crack one of each of these hyper-zones per day (total 3 hours), you’re on to something amazing.  The rest of the time, you’ll be blending techniques, meeting people, working ‘normally’ etc.

    What do you reckon?  Do either of these resonate with you?  Have you got other techniques?

    12 Responses to “Hyper-Productivity”

    1. Ben Saunders says:

      Spot-on, Oli. I practice both of these (with the addition of background opera for method one and background dance music for method two) though I think the whole Tim Ferriss “low information diet” thing is a bit daft. And it seems he *really doesn’t* read his email – he asked for a place to stay in London on Twitter recently – http://twitter.com/tferriss/statuses/893632525 – and I emailed him and his assistant two weeks ago to say that he’d be welcome to have my apartment for free as I’m off to New York. No reply.

      Interestingly, Ferris also says he doesn’t have time to follow people on Twitter, which to me seems a bit like plugging your ears up in order that you can shout a little louder.

    2. Edie Lush says:

      While Method One would by all means mean I’d work less and possibly more efficiently, Method Two definitely wins the day for me with the addition of:
      - making earnest ‘to do’ lists which never end (with some items spending several months on them);
      - attending inspiring but time-consuming lunches with people you definitely want to work with;
      - taking work calls while feeding children (actually you get a lot done in a short amount of time – relieves boredom of dining process and since kids allow you exactly 60 seconds on the phone before they start screaming you learn to be extremely efficient.)

    3. The second option strikes more a chord with me – although there are obviously times when you have to block everything out and focus on just one thing at a time

      Btw – ‘Getting Things Done’ is a great book on the subject of productivity. A must read for anyone interested in ways of working more efficiently:

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-free-Productivity/dp/0749922648/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1220539021&sr=8-1

    4. For me, I should do method 1, as strikes a chord, but 2 is normally what I do ..hahaha.

      I like to define what I can achieve at the start of the day, rather than a whole list of things that need to be done, then ponder over them, Break it out into manageable chunks, but the trouble is, dont take breaks, stick in the office/house all day, and end up working less, as brain drain happens.

      So method 1, new regime moving forward for me…

    5. Oli,

      Both of these are great but you need *strong* discipline and willpower to do the first one. People hate getting disconnected now – witness the continuing crackberry mayhem – but it takes effort and a specific technique to think, develop strategies, plan and develop. Don’t know who they are but they say that it only takes a second to get distracted from planning or ‘quiet’ work but 10 minutes or more to get back in the groove.

      On the second, i also like this because it helps people change the pace of their day.

      I love stuff like this although I’ll never be a contented person as there’s always ways to get more out of the day (other than more hours) that I fail at.

      My two faves:

      1. A survey showed that execs have more ideas when travelling than in any other environment. get out of the car and on to the train or bus to get the time and stimulation.

      2. I love sometimes working very early in the morning and I mean a 3am or 4am start. It’s way more productive than at the end of a tiring day and you think “If I’m here at this time I might as well be productive”

      cheers, J

    6. I think method 1 in the morning then method two in the afternoon.

      I also find that if i stick headphones in and listen to friskyradio (itunes radio) I gain superhuman abilities to deal with large volumes of email.

      PS: Being that it is the afternoon, replying to this blog is part of my productivity strategy.

    7. Ed Dowding says:

      Method 3

      1) Fizz up a pint of your free sample Berocca

      2) Look at your to do list, and decide what can be delegated

      3) Email your PA, one task per email. Ideally written SMARTly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_(project_management))

      4) Cross those items off your list, and feel pretty good about that.

      5) Proceed with Method 1 for a bit.

      6) Delegate any ideas research generated by method 1.

      7) Then repeat (5) and (6) with method 2.

      If anyone would like a free trial of the Online Personal Assistant service Oli uses, just signup at http://www.onlinepersonalassistant.com and mention this blog post to claim your 2 free hours.

      @Oli – excuse my freeloading! I’ll give you some free hours, too!

    8. Rich...! says:

      Was busy with method two when I stumbled here :)

      On Method 1, in Thunk’s new office we’ve decided to have a Disconnected Desk, that has a Mac with no phone and no internet connection. Just for GSD…!

    9. Mike Giles says:

      I would vote for for an extreme version of your two methods Oli by sticking lots and lots of method 1s back to back for a few years with a few cut-back method 2s thrown in from time to time to ease the intensity; make an obscene amount of money, reinvest that money into high yield monthly offshore cashflow vehicles and the odd business and then spend every minute of every day having as much fun as possible doing as many different things as possible. I guess a lot of methods 1s are required first!…

    10. Daniel Snell says:

      What about an amalgamation of two, or in fact, as Blair would have it, a third way…

      Talking about Blair, what about you went AWOL, actually tribal, set off and left town to work; camping, ruck sacking, walking, trekking, witch projecting…but you worked in/with nature…with noting but your mobile phone, laptop, and blackberry for company…and maybe your PA?

      Or, alternatively for instance, what if, we actually created chaos zones of work, where you might free wheel, adding note books, pencils, paper clips…all the old stuff; i saw a pencil case the other day, a strange dinosaur that only exists in Woolworths now. Gone. Sad/happy remembered days.

      What if you could use this blog as a way of saying hello (or help in my case) to people you didn’t know or knew. For instance…

      ‘Hey Oli!’ (i know you) but also a little more daring ‘Hey Ben’ whom I know only passingly. But I could also say hello to everyone who will read this from now on, and make new connections, thus achieving Super Jet Light speed 1, 2 and 3 (the third way) simultaneously.

    11. Tom Ball says:

      What about method 9?

      1) Hit snooze button repeatedly, stumble to desk now feeling guilty

      2) Ignore well planned, prioritised to-do list

      3) Meander between Facebook, Outlook and iPhone, rereading old messages in the hope that some low-hanging fruit remains

      4) Wait til the guilt/stress peaks before frantically trying to nail the one due in an hour…

      Or is that just me?

      On a more serious note, I wonder if there are indeed a range of “zones” for different tasks:

      - I can write code much better/faster with some good banging dance music on

      - I can think strategy best with a big pad, an near empty bar and a cappuccino

      - I solve problems (Inc big pictures!) best by alternating between reading source content / joting notes / scribbling theories and pondering whilst walking

      - I still review documents best on paper. Annoys the hell out of me!

      - I have my best “non-agenda” meetings (E.g. to meet or explore rather than review) in transit – I still remember a meeting on a punt twelve years ago! And can recommend the Green Park cafe as an escape route for IoD meetings

      - I too suffer time-agrophobia and get less done than I should in a day at home. I get more done if I stop mid way and change scene

      - We seem to work best as a company by having a meeting half-day – with all internal meetings happening Monday morning – leaving the rest of the week virtually free. I guess it shines a light on how many meetings you’re having

      And I’ve never quite got the hang of weekends – what do normal people do with them?!?!

      Tom.

    12. Tom Ball says:

      PS I miss occasional late nights in the office – I used to get loads done. Needs special conditions but I never figured out what they were…

      The Earth spins every 24 hours: I wonder if some people’s natural body clock is 23 hours – we’d call those morning people. Others might have a natural 25 hour day – we’d call those evening people…

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