pod_prad

My good colleague and excellent programmer Tomek Mazurek has some great advice for authors who work on their own. I think it applies to pretty much anyone whose home is also their office.

Since there are really no silver bullets that work every time for everyone, here are two more tips that you might find useful.

11. Reward yourself with sweets. If you don’t like sweets, replace them with something else. The idea is to give yourself a small snack as a reward for getting a task done – but only as a reward! Don’t eat it until you’re done with something. It’s a way to recruit one’s own body to fight for one’s cause. Normally, the body reacts to the prospect of work with reluctance and a sense of fear of failure. You can make it jump in excitement and even tell you to hurry up because there’s a delicious dose of carbohydrates waiting at the end. This point works great with something Tomek said, namely splitting big tasks into small ones. It’s really simple: small tasks means more tasks means more chocolate. It also means shorter time frames, which work better because the body isn’t very good at perceiving long term consequences (but that’s what we have the mind for).

12. Rotate tasks. One day I noticed I was working with text all the time. In the morning, I programmed. In the afternoon, I wrote articles. In the evening, I tried to read. My mind was very tired from doing the same thing all the time, and there was usually not enough energy for reading.
Things started to pile up. Then I discovered I was much more productive if I did varied things in turns, for instance when I programmed in the morning and did something manual like drawing or cleaning in the evening. Now I use grocery shopping as a break from work, because I noticed that my body demands action when my mind is tired. And when my body is a bit tired, it is easier for my mind to focus. Cooking your own meals also adds a lot of variety – and it doesn’t break your concentration, because you need to have lunch at some point during the day anyway.