DO DO: A Productivity Game

I’ve been blocked for two days. I kept sitting down at the computer to work, then I’d get stuck, I’d get up to do something else, then I’d sit down and try to work again. Lots of tweeting happened, some facebook visits, and the first 1/3 of very important youtube videos watched, but let’s be honest: that’s mock-work.

So using my favorite tools, the timer and my blank flashcards, I made a game. It’s simple. I went over my to do list, and translated it into themes: tidy for all the part of the house I wanted to clean. Yoga, for yoga. Essay for the three essays I want to write. Clients, for follow-ups. TET for edits on my book. Belize, for the planning and reserving I need to do for my trip. Yes, things are bad when you can’t even bring yourself to book a vacation.

Then I shuffled the cards, and pulled one out at random, and worked on that task for 15 minutes. At the end of that time, I give myself 5 minutes of “freeplay” (hellooo twitters). Then I can either pull a new card or do the same task again, if I’ve got a groove on. If I change tasks, and the first task isn’t done, I put it back in the deck.

It’s working really well. I’ve worked on four tasks already. Why? I suspect it’s random rewards. There are things I don’t want to do, really don’t want to do and kinda want to do but feel guilty because I should be doing other things that are “more important.” I can’t believe it, but I yelled “woo hoo” when I drew tidy. It’s also nice to vary my work up, and there is nothing so awful I can’t do it for 15 minutes. For a challenge curve, maybe I could try to level up to 30 minute sprints.

It’s simple, but it works for me. Feel free to play with the idea, if you too are stuck. Because the timer is square-shaped, one could even roll it for length of time on task, though I prefer to keep my sprints short.

(And yes, I did write this essay in a 15 minute sprint!)

UPDATE: I got stuck trying to decide which syllabus to work on first, so I rolled a dice. Sometime deciding is the really hard part.