I read an entire thesis in one afternoon and have only been unproductive for 8 hours this week. Surprisingly, it began with the discovery of a technique involving a Sock and a Google Sheet.
First, to understand the intricacies of those techniques, we need to step back. Our minds are hijacked by little slot machines called smartphones. Brilliant minds work day and night so that you’re hooked on your phone.
It’s possible to build a system where it gets very difficult to just check your emails.
I call this adding layers of complexity, or adding friction.
I keep only productive apps on my home screen.
I turn off every notification from every app.
I am almost always on Mute.
Whenever not on my phone, I turn the Airplane Mode On.
I don’t have an internet subscription, so I cannot connect to the internet outside.
The Sock Technique
Strangely enough, those 5 tricks are not enough for Deep Work.
Last week, I had to read a thesis to understand an algorithm.
I designed a technique that allowed me to stay focused for an entire afternoon, and read the thesis from left to right.
Make sure you have your phone on Mute and Airplane Mode, and then turn it off
Put your phone in a sock
Insert the sock in another sock
Place everything in a bag
Drop the bag in your kitchen
Finish whatever you have to do, because you don’t have the energy to undo step 1 to 5.
But even with those very sophisticated techniques, with no willpower I was doomed to be unproductive.
What made me empathize with my future self was that my time was a much more valuable resource than money.
I came to realize that spending one hour on Reddit was worst than throwing away a $20 bill.
The Google Sheet Hack
Hopefully, Reddit is also full of productivity hacks.
A few days ago, I stumbled upon a crazy guy who has been tracking his time every 30 minutes.
I decided to take it even further, and do it every 15 minutes.
Coloring My Life
I have 15 colors for different kinds of activities. Close colors have close relationship.
Light green: exercise/walk outside
Dark green: listen to music
Red: writing code
Turkey red: writing articles
Black: unproductive black holes
Why it Works
Detailed Stats about time spent on each activity
High-Resolution: 15 minutes is the shortest time I spend on an activity
Continuity in colors forces me to code without interruption for hours
The Full Picture forces empathy with my Future Self (unproductive black cells are horrendous, and I do anything to avoid them)
Objectivity:no more “I haven’t done anything today”. Yes, you watched this Westworldepisode, and spent hours trying to understand everything. But, still, you had 6 hours of productive time throughout the whole day.