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How I Increased My Productivity to 70%?

Yeah, 70% productivity doesn’t sound too promising, does it?

But, it’s not too bad (and it’s realistically possible). I will explain why my numbers are low later on 😉

For me, the main problem with productivity was quantifying it. How do I measure it? Am I productive if I get things done and spent a lot of time for entertainment? Or do I have to spend all of my working time on working?

Really, who likes the second part? (I know I don’t!)

I slack off, a LOT of times, but at the end of the week, I get things done, even if I have to sacrifice a few things along the way.

Getting things done. That’s what I want to accomplish. And, that’s what productivity means to me.

To be honest, I wasn’t very good at getting things done, until I invested considerable amount of time into it.

I had lots of time to do it, to find a good schedule, make it better and improve my life in overall (when I say improve, I mean, learning new skills and finding more efficient ways to do certain tasks).

At this point, I am getting things done. I am at a way better place than I used to be. In fact, I consider this year as the best one I have had so far in my life,

So, what is this article about?

Well, this article is about how I increased by productivity by using several [free] applications while following specific type of scheduling.

So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Note: I do hope that you add your own experiences with productivity and time management in the comments 😉 Thank you 🙂

Productivity through Block scheduling

The first thing I want to talk about is block scheduling. Honestly, I got the inspiration for Block scheduling from one of the applications I was using at the time called Focus Booster (More on that later).

Block scheduling is simply dividing your time into different blocks and using that to optimize your day for best results. Right now, I am using several different blocks to manage my day – A blogging block for constructing my upcoming blog, a commenting/networking block, an exercise block, a game block, a comics block (any comic fans?) and so forth.

You too, can do something similar. I suggest experimenting and rearranging your schedule accordingly.

Take for instance, some people find early morning as the best part of their day – that’s when they have the most energy. If you are one of those people, you could just have lengthier work blocks during your early morning session, and use your afternoon for other activities.

I spent most of my early morning for learning new stuff. I have read somewhere that our brains are best in the early morning, not sure if it is scientifically true.

What do you prefer? Are you a morning person or a night owl? Or are you a combination of the two?

The best thing I like about block scheduling is that I am able to force myself to work. With other schedules, I have an entire day (or a week) to finish my required tasks (and that my friends, might be a recipe for a failure).

I kept thinking: Hey, I have the entire week to finish this stuff, so let’s take this day off (has that ever happened to you?)

But, with block schedules, I can’t do that. I only have a set amount of time to finish a certain task. I also use another trick for extra motivation: free time block.

If I finish a task early, I can use it as my free time block (entertainment and so forth). If I don’t, I use my free time block to finish the task 😉

Seriously, I do not want to spend my free time working (avoiding a ‘punishment’ is a very strong incentive).

If there is anyone I need to thank (for making this year the best), it is app developers (no, not all app developers. I mean, game developers are cool, but ultimately games may end up being a distraction).

So, let’s get into apps (all of them are free):

Focus Booster

Remember Focus Booster?

This app is my inspiration for block scheduling. So, what does this app do? Are you familiar with Pomodoro technique?

It is basically dividing your time up into 25 min work blocks, followed by a short break (and then the cycle restarts).

Focus Booster works so well because it allows you to customize your work blocks and break blocks. Take for instance, you can divide your time into 30 min work blocks and 5 min breaks.

Speaking of breaks, these days, we tend to undervalue the importance of break sessions.

Our body isn’t built to sit around a computer; it needs exercise. Plus, recent studies have proved that prolonged sitting can cause a lot of health problems – from back pain to stress.

As a blogger or a home based business owner, the last thing you want is a back pain. It makes working a whole lot harder. Have you tried concentrating on a task while in pain?

Another study also proves that taking breaks does have many beneficial effects, from improving glucose metabolism to reducing the risk of a cardiovascular diseases. So, take breaks, improve your health!

I have experimented with different lengths of work blocks and break blocks. At first, I was working with 25 min work blocks and 2 min breaks.

That worked really well, but I wanted the blocks to a bit more lengthy and distributed more evenly throughout the day. After a bit of experimentation, I decided to settle with 28 min work blocks and 2 min breaks.

So, at the end of my 16 hour “working day”, I would go through 15 hours of work and about a one hour of exercise/break.

Want to try Focus Booster? Check it here.

Big Stretch Reminder

Focus Booster was great, at least for the first few months. The main problem was that I found myself skipping the breaks to get things done (Yeah, it’s good to be interested in finishing the work, but our health is more important than any work we may have).

The main function of this app, as you can guess, is remind you to stretch (or exercise).

Focus Booster shows you a timer, but doesn’t necessarily ‘remind’ you to take the break. BSR, on the other hand, has several different reminding options: a balloon reminder, a popup reminder and micro break reminder (same as pop-up reminder, except this one has a timer).

The best thing about BSR?

You can add custom messages to your reminders. BSR is already equipped with two other options: random tip or a motivational quote.

You can use the custom messages to remind yourself of the tasks you need to do (a daily task list) or maybe something that makes you think of exercising (like what will happen or will not happen if you exercise).

You can download Big Stretch Reminder here.

Rescue Time

Note: I am using the latest version for this post.

If I had to choose any one app (related to time management and productivity), I will choose Rescue Time. That’s how important and useful this application is.

Ever noticed how we behave when is someone else supervising us?

Who wants to look bad in front of someone else? (And what if that someone else is your boss?).

This is also the same reason why public commitments work. Tell you readers that you are going to try and achieve a goal, and you are more likely to do it.

Same thing with Rescue Time.

It allows you to become a supervisor of yourself (we really don’t like looking bad to ourselves. It decreases our self-esteem and how we see ourselves).

In a nutshell, Rescue Time is Google Analytics to time management. It helps you to keep track of all your internet activities.

Want to collect window/folder/document details? Yup!

Detailed website information? Sure!

How much time you spent on emails? Got it covered!

All you need to do is enable these features by going to Account settings > Privacy. The privacy settings also allows you to white list/black list specific websites and activities.

You can also use the privacy page to specify the window of tracking/monitoring. This allows us to monitor only your working hours (makes the data much more accurate).

I consider most of my day as part of my working hours, even though I only work (blog) for 3-4 hours (that probably explains why my numbers are low).

Let’s login to Rescue Time (If you don’t have an account, go get one for free at Rescue Time).

Here is how the welcome page looks:

productivity

Alt: rescuetime welcome page

Scrolling down, you will be presented with an overview of your activities. As you can see, I spend most of my time on reference and learning.

productivity

Alt: rescuetime activity spotlight

Rescue Time also supports advanced goal management system that will help you to track your online goals (at the end of the day, this helps because it will show you whether you have been a lazy guy or not. It will motivate you to take action. I mean, how many of us enjoy lying to ourselves?).

social networks

Alt: rescue time goal management

Setting up a goal is easy. Rescue time provides you with a variety of options. You can track the amount of time spent on specific categories/sub-categories. Or you can just track the total working time.

social networks

Alt: rescue time goals

new goals

As you can see from image above, Rescue time also allows you to select the time slot for a specific goal (the third option is your tracking time; For instance, my ‘working’ hours are from 6 am to 8 pm).

The premium does provide more features for those of you who need. For someone like me, the free version is more than enough. Give it a try, and see how it goes 🙂

For more about Rescuetime, please check this in-depth review

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it all comes down to experimentation. Experiment and see what works for you. Stick with it and tweak it.

It is also important to not focus too much attention into schedules and productivity. Don’t forget to enjoy your life 😉

Do you have anything else to add? Have you tried Rescue Time, Focus Booster and Big Stretch reminder? What is your experience with productivity and time management? Share your thoughts below!

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Jeevan John
 

My name is Jeevan Jacob John. I am a blogger who believes in experimenting and tweaking the existing strategies to perform better, to be more efficient.

Mohit

Really nice ways to increase productivity…I must say that Jeevan you have learnt a lot about the various ways which are helpful in boosting confidence to get the maximum productivity which one can deliver…

    Jeevan John

    Thank you Mohit!

    Have you tried any of the apps I have mentioned? If not, do you use any other productivity/time management related apps?

    I am always looking to test out new applications 😀

    Hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Thanks again for the comment 🙂

Josh May

Great post Jeevan John. I can definitely see myself skipping breaks too if I used Focus Booster. I just get so into what I’m working on that taking a break seems so unappealing…

I’m always looking for more effective ways to grow in productivity, and I will definitely have to try block scheduling. Since I am in college, my hours are always a little different, but I generally try to wake up early and get work done.

Thanks for sharing these tips man.

Josh May

    Jeevan John

    Hey Josh,

    Yup. Happens a lot. BSR kind of annoys with their popup reminders (and that’s probably the reason why it works for me).

    I am not taking any classes this semester, so I had lots of time to test block scheduling. I am getting back to college next semester (hopefully I will get a nice schedule that will allow me to continue with block scheduling).

    Of course, I will definitely have to abandon some routines – such as hourly exercises. I don’t think professors will allow that (would have been nice though. I think universities need to encourage that. Many classes are long, and sitting continuously for 2 hours isn’t healthy).

    No mention 🙂 Thank you for the comment!

Ron Killian

Great read, thank you Jeevan.

I’ve never tried any of the services you mentioned, though it might be a good idea. I know I am not as productive as I should be. I tend to bounce around, so maybe something that will keep me in line, might be a big help?

Although, maybe I don’t want to see how badly I am wasting my time 🙂

    Jeevan John

    No mention, Ron 🙂

    Definitely try Rescue Time. It will give you a rough idea on how you spent time online. You can then tweak your schedule.

    There are a lot of activities we could limit to 10-15 mins (like checking and replying to emails…unnecessarily checking emails is probably the best way to waste our time).

    Yeah. I still feel that, and that’s why I don’t record any data for the weekends. I can be as lazy as I want, and I don’t have to confront it 😉

    Our mind doesn’t like to admit that we are lazy, so once we see the data, (if we are bad) it will encourage us to take action 😀

    Thank you for the comment, Ron!

James

Hi Jeevan,

This post triggered a question for you, are you a time management and life motivational coach? Sorry for asking such question, but the full details and information you have shared is so resourceful and helpful.

I work in the corporate sector and managing my time between official duties and my blogging activities is not easy; its affecting my blogging productivity.

I love the closing paragraph and that is “At the end of the day, it all comes down to experimentation”

Thanks for sharing and do have a nice weekend.

    Jeevan John

    Hey James,

    Glad you found it useful 🙂

    I used to write a lot about motivation and productivity with my previous blogs 🙂 So, I have had a good amount of experience on both topics, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert 😀

    Oh, yes. Although I can’t particularly relate back to that, but I have had similar problems (I started blogging in high school…so managing it was kind of tough).

    Glad you liked it. Yeah, the best way to improve is to keep on experimenting, even if it is a proven technique. There is always a better technique (or a better version of the same technique).

    No mention 🙂 Thank you for the comment! You too 🙂

Annalyn

If you want to increase your productivity, follow these tips from the author who made his profit by increasing as much as 70%.

Start your way by investing a considerable amount of time in doing the business. Look for a good school that fits you and make it better. Learn new skills and find more ways to make it more efficient.

The author was not in a better place because of some tools he used. Try the block scheduling and focus booster as some of the tools he finds very helpful.

I am learning a lot. Thanks for the tips.

Just learned this post being shared at Kingged.com

    Jeevan John

    Thanks for the comment, Annalyn 🙂

    Glad you found it useful!

Ashish

Hello Jevan, Glad to see you here.

It’s really important to focus on productivity and focus on it. The post is really informative as I wasn’t focusing and I think mine would be 10% productivity compared to yours interms of work.

Thanks for sharing!

    Jeevan John

    Glad to meet you, Ashish 🙂

    Yes, indeed. Do you use any other tools for productivity (and task management)?

    No problem 🙂

Mitch Mitchell

Great job Jeevan. I’m kind of old school so I use my Palm planner software that’s on the computer to do the same thing when I have projects to work on. The only thing it doesn’t do is measure productivity, but I use a paper resource for that.

    Jeevan John

    Thanks, Mitch 🙂

    As long as it helps to get things done, it doesn’t matter what we use 😀

    Appreciate the comment, Mitch! Hope you are having a great weekend 🙂

Emmanuel

Hi Jeevan,
We can’t simply wait to see you finally with your blog. It is really amazing how many do complain of lack of time but the truth of the matter is that we all have 24 hours in a day.

Thanks Jeevan, for sharing some of these productive tips with us.

    Jeevan John

    Hey Emmanuel,

    Good to know that 😉

    Yes, of course. It’s all in managing our time efficiently. I was amazed by the amount of free time I got (I seriously didn’t know what to do with it, so I invested into in learning new habits/routines).

    No mention, Emmanuel 🙂 Hope you are having a great weekend!

Sunday

Hi Jeevan,
You should win Cannes prize for writing this epic content. The post goes to show that you were truly productive.

Coming to the ideas in this post, the concept of scheduling block is new to me, but I still find some wisdom in it.

More so, I would want to add that despite the type of experimentation applied, it is important to consider what impact the approach would make at the shortest possible time.

This post was shared in kingged.com – the content aggregator website for online marketers. The above comment was left.
Sunday – kingged.com contributor

    Jeevan John

    Thank you 🙂

    Glad you find it useful!

    You mean in terms of productivity? Experimentation is perhaps the best method to what’s best (or better, in this case).

    Yeah, planning and setting up this experiment did take time, but ultimately, it helped to get more free time (which I used to invest in other hobbies I have long wanted to pursue, such as drawing :D).

    Thank you again for the comment! Hope you had a wonderful weekend 🙂

Arbaz K

Hi Jeevan,
This is the post for me! I have been trying to increase my productivity from a long time and am getting a little bit successful at it. I am still wasting a lot of my time watching videos on YouTube or surfing on Facebook. Maybe I can implement a few steps from this post in my life.
And thanks for recommending the Focus Booster app. I am going to check if it works on me or not 😉

    Jeevan John

    Glad you think so 🙂

    I can relate 😀

    You could try Time Warp or Productivity Owl (Chrome extensions) to block websites like Youtube and Facebook.

    Hope you have success with it! Thank you for the comment.

Atul Kumar Pandey

Better scheduling and paying attentions on the task helps to increase the productivity. I understand so many new things Enstine. Thanks for the nice post.

    Jeevan John

    Yes, indeed 🙂

    Thank you for your comment!

Pramod

Excellent post Jeevan !
Focusbooster seems to be an interesting app . The features of the app looks promising and i’m sure the app will help me as well . Thanks for sharing these amazing tips and information on the app with us.

-Pramod

    Jeevan John

    Thank you Pramod 🙂

    It sure is helpful. Give it a try and see how it goes.

    Thank you for your comment!

Vicky

Well 70% is not at all bad of course it’s a great work you’ve done jeevan. I really liked your tips for increasing the productivity which i was neglected during these days.

Thanks for sharing!

    Jeevan John

    Thank you Vicky 🙂

    Glad you liked it, and good luck with your productivity endeavors!

    Thank you for the comment.

Kingsley

These are truly very good tips on how to increase productivity, but like I always say – most people will read this and shrug their shoulders saying – I already know this stuff. But why are they not getting results? Because they don’t take action on what they already know. So, it’s not about knowing, it’s about taking action.

Thanks for this, though, it’s a good reminder for those who know but don’t actually do, 🙂

Steve West

Hey Enstine,

Very useful tips, I haven’t heard of any of these apps, I will check them out!

What I do to be productive is block schedule as you suggest but I use an egg timer and I also play inspirational music in the background, usually from YouTube. This really helps me to focus 🙂

Happy New Year 🙂

Steve

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