Work & Productivity

Focus yourself with “Airplane Mode”

I’ve discovered that my most productive work is done between the hours of 8 and 11 am. It’s when I do my best coding, feel as though I’m most creative and almost moving on autopilot.

How I Airplane Mode myself to maintain focus

My key to productivity includes switching the phone to Power Saver and Airplane Mode before my commute to work and leaving it there until 10 or 11 am.

During which time quickly I check and reply to email, review my projects for the day and usually knock out at least good hour of uninterrupted coding or design work.

Airplane mode & Power saver
I engage “Airplane Mode” when I need to focus.

Airplane Mode along with Do not Disturb blocks everything so my focus can remain on my task at hand. I find that notification spam is greatest in the morning. Apps are designed to build habits and push notifications on us as soon as we wake up pulling from important tasks.

Priority 0nly is a good compromise if you can’t risk being unavailable to selected contacts.

Priority only is a good compromise to allow alarms and important contacts reach you if being completely off the grid is not an option.

It works for me and might work for you

I’ve been doing this now for a few months and find that 8am to 11am is the sweet spot where I would normally get interrupted by meaningless notifications but never anything so important that couldn’t wait until I switch back on afterwards.

Don’t be afraid to miss notifications, they’ll be there waiting when you return.

Work & Productivityimage

Cold Brew Coffee and GTD

My reread of Getting Things Done is roughly 1/3 complete.

This system really does work because it’s technology independent and modular.

Work & Productivity

Protecting most valuable activities by prioritizing the least

It might seem counter productive but least valuable activities should be manged and contained.

I know a professor who teaches a full schedule, writes regular articles and produces a book almost every year. I asked his spouse how he did it while remaining so responsive. It was simple, he limited his least valuable activities.

Discover your least valuable activities (LVA)

An LVA is low priority or generic unspecialized work. Basically anything anyone else can handle but somehow it was left to you to perform. First write down everything you get paid to do, if it helps assign a hourly wage value both above and below your hourly wage. Include zero for work that has no value but must be done.

Examples of my LVAs

  • Responding to calls, composing emails or similar activities
  • Unspecialized administrative work
  • Housekeeping or making coffee for the office 🙂
  • Gossip and interruptions
  • Social media
  • Sales calls and similar requests

Discover your least productive work times

I’m least productive when I arrive at work, half an hour after lunch and near the end of the day.

With this information we can schedule the lowest priority activities to keep them contained and blocked from interfering with valuable and specialized work.

Next, schedule them for no more than 25% of the day. This is my usual LVA routine.

Arrival at work and the first hour

  • Email, replies and similar activities
  • Chatting, gossip and available for likely interruptions
  • Administrative work and morning coffee
  • Project planning

2pm or after lunch for a half hour

  • Review emails, voicemails or notifications and reply

Half an hour before end of work day

  • Review email and reply
  • Planning for tomorrow
  • Minor tasks

Scheduling these hard blocks within 25% of the work day then actually performing these tasks is key. Once the allocated time has passed anything left unfinished is delayed to the next block.

This effectively batches busy work together reserving time for the real work to be performed during the other 75% of my day.