Many productivity hacks that work well for other people have proven empirically ineffective for me, but I’ve discovered some radical alternatives meanwhile.
You have to be a bit of a risk-taker for some of these though.
I’ll cut to the chase.
Lock your phone in the closet
When I really need to get stuff done I don’t just silence it, I put my phone in the closet. In another room. Under the socks and underwear, or whatever stash I have in a drawer. The more steps I’ll need to retrieve it the better.
Out of sight, out of mind. Silent mode doesn’t work for me because I keep picking up the phone out of FOMO. I actually waste more time checking for notifications with silent mode on than off. Embarrassing, really.
Under the closet solution, I have to take a walk of shame to bring back the phone. That works wonders.
Throw in the TV remote too, that pesky little bugger.
Do something exciting to initiate active mode
When I just can’t seem to feel motivated towards the task at hand, I’ll do something else that excites me instead.
Here’s the trick though. I’ll stay aware the whole time whatever I’m doing is strictly a prologue to the actual task in question.
Suppose I need to study but feel lethargic. I’ll start designing a poster (I love doing quick illustrations) to set my brain to an active mode.
.. and bam! I’m there in minutes. My brain is accelerated. Now I’ll just use that speed elsewhere.
Procrastinate until the last minute
This is playing with fire.
I’ve backtracked my behavior for years to find out what kind of work I do better under pressure. Even if it’s something important, I slack when I have too much time at hand, whining I could have done something better instead.
When I consciously procrastinate until I can no longer afford to, the adrenaline rush from a scarily close deadline boosts me into turbo mode.
The heavens bear witness I’ve finished some of my absolute best work two minutes before the deadline.
Play a high-voltage game
Did you play an Unreal Tournament team deathmatch at godlike difficulty? That was my go-to brain hot-wiring solution back in the days. Now Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4 works wonders.
I do a short 10–minute session, and then whatever project you throw at me I’ll go supersonic on it.
Pick up a fast-paced game that keeps you on your toes — let me know how it goes. That rhymed!
Ask someone to police you
The last thing I wanna do is appear as a slacking, lazy-ass underachiever to my girlfriend, especially when I’m waving flags and shouting go-go-go! at her like a religiously devoted cheerleader for her projects.
So I asked her to shame me (of course not insultingly) for slacking. She never signed up for this though, arguing negative talk is no way to motivate someone.
I didn’t try to convince her that getting a poke from her won’t feel negative. But I’ll side with her on this one. A grown-ass man shouldn’t need mothering.
So I just tell her to ask about my progress. That’s enough. I don’t even wait until she checks on me. Knowing that I’ve given her the authority to do that is motivation enough.
I trade slacking for self-respect. I work for dignity.
Dress for office at home
This doesn’t need explaining, but if you’re wondering — yes, a mild cologne, hair cream, shoes — the whole package. Sometimes I ‘pack’ myself a lunch too.
There are researches that suggest how you dress affects how you think and perform. Here’s one.
As much as you’d like to be comfortable, sometimes you’ll need to dress the part to play the part. This is especially relevant during the pandemic era of remote working.
Simulate your workplace environment.
The couch will stop staring at you.