Last summer I accomplished less than I had hoped. I want to do better this time around, so I am looking for opportunities to be more productive. The first step involves looking at my daily routine.
Daily Routine: The Ideal
First, I find that I am most productive and satisfied when I fit work into the 8-to-5 (ish) schedule.
Second, I find that I do my best work when I leave the house.
So my best days look like this: I go to the office as early as possible, work as much as I can until around 5, exercise, and then leave.
Achieving The Ideal
Obviously, I have to deviate from my ideal from time to time. After all, sometimes I need to attend to something at home. Other times, I have to run errands that can only be completed while I would normally be in the office.
Because I cannot always work from my office, I have implemented a few policies that help me stay productive in non-ideal circumstances.
Third, I always pack a full workday’s worth of stuff: computer, smartphone, charging stuff, earplugs, headphones, snacks, a change of clothes, etc. — since I often bike commute, I use a Timbuk2 bag with a waterproof liner to protect my electronics from the weather.
Fourth, I put all work documents in the cloud so that I can access my work stuff anywhere. Dropbox is my favorite cloud service.
With these last two policies in place, I know that I have everything I need to work all day without disruption from pretty much anywhere. And that came in handy recently. I had to spend more than 10 hours in waiting rooms. My car was undergoing a series of scheduled services. To stay productive while I waited, I turned my chair away from the TV in the lobby, drowned out background sounds with brown noise, and read Hilary Kornblith’s On Reflection (2012). Without the cloud and a daypack of supplies, I doubt that I would have accomplished much in the noisy waiting rooms.
This daily routine has served me well, but it only creates the conditions for productivity. Capitalizing on these conditions is the hard part. So next week, I’ll look at the data on how I spent each minute of every workday over the course of three weeks. The data will reveal a couple opportunities to improve my time-management.
In the meantime, you might want to check out this discussion of summer daily routines for academics over at Daily Nous: “How to ACTUALLY Work During Summer“.