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I'm Most Productive When I'm Alone.

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  • I'm Most Productive When I'm Alone.

    I've been traveling the world in this past month, alongside my iOS devices and MacBook Pro. I've been a GTD and OmniFocus user for at least 6-7 years and feel I know my way around my sense of productivity; though by all means I'm discovering new things every single week.

    During these travels to foreign countries and within the U.S., I've noticed that the majority of my productivity is when i'm alone, away from friends and family which serve as distractions. This isn't to say that my actions don't include these people, but on a daily basis, those times when i'm on fire, on a roll or in the zone are accomplished when i'm focused on my own accord.

    I'm wondering your take on this thought, and above all, how you approach this matter on a daily basis, should it occur to you.

    I've had many friends who are productive and simply tell those around them, "Alright I gotta go." While for others it seems like the social glue is too strong to release. I mention and create this post now considering i'm currently staying at a friends house in the U.S. and notice that said friend runs his day at a much slower pace than I do, while I like to wake up and fire up all cylinders.

    And to drive the point home, in regard to the title of this thread; I do mean alone. People seem to be distractions. From the friend who thinks is helping but really a distraction, to the little niece (though adorable) nearby that wants attention in fixing up a doll-house. Of course a solution would be to go and hit up a StarBucks but I can't do that. I'm stationary in regards to needing to stay close to home-base (wherever it may be said particular week) due to not necessarily knowing my way around new cities. (Again, this post isn't about GTD while traveling; more-so about GTD without distractions and this focusing on people).

  • #2
    Hi Happy Dude

    reading your post I get the feeling that you have two dilemmas:
    - your rhythm compared to others
    - handling interruptions
    Right?

    For the first in my opinion this is normal, I love working late night and my partner loves waking up and handling his day in the first 3 hours in the morning (what creates some problems, as he is ready to have fun while I am just starting to warm up).

    About interruptions I fully understand you, as I work from home and the distractions seem to be everywhere....

    In the last 5 years with GTD and with this job working from home office and travelling a lot I found out that people that live in your house can be "educated" if you really want it and if you work consistently on it.

    In my case the kids (15 and 20) know that if we are on the phone anywhere in the house (my husband also works from home), they have to be quiet. It already worked quite well when they were younger. If the door of the "home-office" is closed, no interruption is allowed. Of course it takes some time to have this working fine, but at the end...

    ...it is only YOU left to handle. And I found out that THIS can be the real challenge!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by sonia13de View Post
      Hi Happy Dude

      reading your post I get the feeling that you have two dilemmas:
      - your rhythm compared to others
      - handling interruptions
      Right?

      For the first in my opinion this is normal, I love working late night and my partner loves waking up and handling his day in the first 3 hours in the morning (what creates some problems, as he is ready to have fun while I am just starting to warm up).

      About interruptions I fully understand you, as I work from home and the distractions seem to be everywhere....

      In the last 5 years with GTD and with this job working from home office and travelling a lot I found out that people that live in your house can be "educated" if you really want it and if you work consistently on it.

      In my case the kids (15 and 20) know that if we are on the phone anywhere in the house (my husband also works from home), they have to be quiet. It already worked quite well when they were younger. If the door of the "home-office" is closed, no interruption is allowed. Of course it takes some time to have this working fine, but at the end...

      ...it is only YOU left to handle. And I found out that THIS can be the real challenge!
      Nice.

      I feel the solution, with friends is to let them know I gotta get it done but admittedly they like to come up to me w/ interruptions from random YouTube videos they wanna show me to advice on some matter. Maybe the issue is learning how to let people know I don't want to be bothered. What's interesting is that throughout the years I certainly credit the GTD methodology in getting me from UCLA and onward (w/ apparent ease); but I have to admit that whenever I tell others of what I need to accomplish for the day (in whichever context), most look at me like I'm simply fiddling with my time, so as to seem productive. On the contrary, I know when I feel i'm kicking butt in my productivity, varying success on different days. But thats just it. On days when I wake up alone and have a full day to myself from morning to night, I'll usually tackle so much more in the day when I outline my day and plan for unexpected interruptions many but not all distractions.

      On days when I'm w/ ppl, from friends, family and beyond I'll try to convince myself that I can still get some of my online actions done simply because I'll have my iPhone w/ me but truth is I need much more than that; some space, quiet, concentration.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by HappyDude View Post
        I've been traveling the world in this past month, alongside my iOS devices and MacBook Pro. I've been a GTD and OmniFocus user for at least 6-7 years and feel I know my way around my sense of productivity; though by all means I'm discovering new things every single week.

        During these travels to foreign countries and within the U.S., I've noticed that the majority of my productivity is when i'm alone, away from friends and family which serve as distractions. This isn't to say that my actions don't include these people, but on a daily basis, those times when i'm on fire, on a roll or in the zone are accomplished when i'm focused on my own accord.

        I'm wondering your take on this thought, and above all, how you approach this matter on a daily basis, should it occur to you.

        I've had many friends who are productive and simply tell those around them, "Alright I gotta go." While for others it seems like the social glue is too strong to release. I mention and create this post now considering i'm currently staying at a friends house in the U.S. and notice that said friend runs his day at a much slower pace than I do, while I like to wake up and fire up all cylinders.

        And to drive the point home, in regard to the title of this thread; I do mean alone. People seem to be distractions. From the friend who thinks is helping but really a distraction, to the little niece (though adorable) nearby that wants attention in fixing up a doll-house. Of course a solution would be to go and hit up a StarBucks but I can't do that. I'm stationary in regards to needing to stay close to home-base (wherever it may be said particular week) due to not necessarily knowing my way around new cities. (Again, this post isn't about GTD while traveling; more-so about GTD without distractions and this focusing on people).
        Reminds me of this cartoon!

        Name:  d557cd416fb410a430dd86ebf60b40d8.jpg
Views: 1
Size:  58.7 KB

        Comment


        • #5
          Plan to suit

          Hi HappyDude,

          I work from home at least 2-3 days a week and spend the rest at customers or out corporate office 100 miles away.

          I have a wife that works part time and a 3 year old daughter who is at home all day 1.5 days per week (or all the time at the moment due to school holidays).

          I find three main things help when dealing with distractions and this type of environment:

          1. Set boundaries on when you can and can't be interrupted, although this can be difficult with Kids, but its easier with adults, try putting in noise cancelling headphones or similar and work in short 30 minute to 1 hour bursts taking natural breaks.
          2. Go easy on yourself. Assuming that you have control over your time and are measured on results, plan tasks to take into account when people are not around to get the real focused work done, scheduling tasks which require less concentration when you are most likely to be disturbed.
          3. Skew your work day and get up early or work late to get more undisturbed time to get work done while still having some time to enjoy the company of people that you are staying with or to explore where you are staying.

          Kind Regards,

          Ross

          Comment


          • #6
            I work from home and so does my husband. Of course a lot of our work is outside with the farm. But we also both do not tolerate much noise. For us while lots of folks will have music playing neither of us can do anything if there is any extra noise. We can sit across from each other (we have facing L shaped desks) and work on our projects for hours at a time with no talking or extra noise and we both have headphones on our machines for the times we need to listen to web casts or other sound generating stuff. So I can certainly agree that quiet is important. Maybe figuring out how to signal it's quiet time will help? Could you put on a pair of headphones when you need to work even if there is noting playing on them?

            Comment


            • #7
              Other People's Domains...

              It sounds like you're also staying in other people's domains, which is slightly different than choosing to work from home, or whatever... If I'm staying with people - no matter how long they've been friends - I often find I feel a little obligated to fit into their rhythms, as I'm technically a "guest" in their home...

              Could this be some of what's going on for you right now as you travel to different places? If so, communicating your gratitude while still explaining your need for space is a delicate dance, I would think... But not impossible - especially if you know them well?

              There is also the option of finding out when their downtimes are and trying to shift your own schedule to take advantage of those times (e.g. when they all go to bed and/or get up you can do the opposite!)... Don't know how practical that is for you!

              Comment


              • #8
                About interruptions and productive contexts

                Hi. Great topic. I would add two comments:

                1. Do you have some time of full availability to others? I mean, a time with full focus on the people withouth any kind of wiring whatsoever (i.e. no phone, no email, no internet, no TV, ...)? I suspect that if we have a full focus mode to our people during some amount of time, it makes it easier to also have a full focus mode for our work during some other amount of time. The problem is when we keep mixing both all the time.

                2. Self-interruptions. Of course there are working contexts that better provide focus, being the lack of stimula a great helper. But, some tricks (which I bet you already have) are particularly important when you do have to work in a interruption_crowded context. I would highlight a couple: a) define each task step shorter and write it down like a log - micro guidance gives you better focus and makes it a lot easier to recover your way after the interruption. b) make sure you are not interrupting yourself using the external factor as an excuse.

                Hope it adds some value to the discussion.

                Gonçalo Gil Mata
                www.WHATSTHETRICK.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by HappyDude View Post

                  I've had many friends who are productive and simply tell those around them, "Alright I gotta go." While for others it seems like the social glue is too strong to release. I mention and create this post now considering i'm currently staying at a friends house in the U.S. and notice that said friend runs his day at a much slower pace than I do, while I like to wake up and fire up all cylinders.

                  And to drive the point home, in regard to the title of this thread; I do mean alone. People seem to be distractions. From the friend who thinks is helping but really a distraction, to the little niece (though adorable) nearby that wants attention in fixing up a doll-house. Of course a solution would be to go and hit up a StarBucks but I can't do that. I'm stationary in regards to needing to stay close to home-base (wherever it may be said particular week) due to not necessarily knowing my way around new cities. (Again, this post isn't about GTD while traveling; more-so about GTD without distractions and this focusing on people).
                  The social conventions of staying in someone else's home as a guest generally mean increased social interaction and less time for work, for both guest and host. Travel generally disrupts productivity, but a pleasant hotel with fast Internet can sometimes increase productivity. That's something you can't expect visiting friends and family. My wife and I both often work at home in the morning, but we are used to it, communicate well and have separate home offices.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would guess that most people are most productive when they're alone. I've worked this into my routine by getting up early when I need extra time to focus, working from home when typical office interactions would be distracting, and coordinating "me time" with my family, so I can focus on tasks and projects that are outside of work.

                    It's taken a good deal of trial and error and sharing openly about how I best work and when I need some time.

                    In fact, today I had 5 hours to myself just for reading, thought and reflection. It's relaxing and productive when the people in your life are clear about your needs and intentions.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      great analysis!

                      Originally posted by goncalomata View Post
                      Hi. Great topic. I would add two comments:

                      1. Do you have some time of full availability to others? I mean, a time with full focus on the people withouth any kind of wiring whatsoever (i.e. no phone, no email, no internet, no TV, ...)? I suspect that if we have a full focus mode to our people during some amount of time, it makes it easier to also have a full focus mode for our work during some other amount of time. The problem is when we keep mixing both all the time.

                      2. Self-interruptions. Of course there are working contexts that better provide focus, being the lack of stimula a great helper. But, some tricks (which I bet you already have) are particularly important when you do have to work in a interruption_crowded context. I would highlight a couple: a) define each task step shorter and write it down like a log - micro guidance gives you better focus and makes it a lot easier to recover your way after the interruption. b) make sure you are not interrupting yourself using the external factor as an excuse.

                      Hope it adds some value to the discussion.

                      Gonçalo Gil Mata
                      www.WHATSTHETRICK.com
                      yeah... fully agree with point 1 of Goncalo's answer! We keep mixing this all the time and then we wonder why.... I sign it and promise to get better about

                      Comment

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