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The best two things I use to improve my productivity and work happiness

I think I've first seen this formula in the book Deep Work by Call Newport.

things_done = time * quality_of_focus. 

This article will focus on the second part of that equation.

Improving your capacity to focus is not just about getting things done, but much more about personal happiness.

I've seen that trying to get something done while jumping from one digital distraction to another is a clear formula for getting me frustrated and running my day. On the opposite side, starting my day with a good interval of about 3-4 hours where I get all the important stuff done leaves me with a nice feeling of accomplishment and a full day ahead to enjoy.

And yes, the biggest enemy of focus is distractions.

Over the years, the main tools I've discovered to work when it comes to focusing and eliminating distractions are:

  1. the Pomodoro technique. I use a free app for Mac, called beFocused, to work in sets of 25 mins. In my mind is something like "ok brain, please focus on this task for these 25 mins and after that, you can wander around to what whatever you want for about 10 min." I've discovered that having about 5 to 8 of these focused intervals per day is enough to get the important coding stuff done. I usually have them in the morning and the rest of the workday can be spent on meetings, administrative tasks, and others.

  2. buying a subscription to the Freedom app was maybe the highest ROI money that I've spent. I think there are also some free alternatives. What this app does is block access to a list of sites I consider distracting. I have it set to start automatically between 8am and 2p. During this time I don't have any access to sites like Youtube, Twitter, news, Amazon. Not even for one quick glance šŸ™‚ Whenever I have seen I am on a site that steals my time from the important stuff I just add it to the list. Just coding, learning, and getting stuff done. And it's so worth it.

Of course, there are many other small things but overall I think these two tricks are delivering about 80% of the results.

Also maybe a good idea to check some of the books of Call Newport. Besides the techniques and tools, they are great for giving a specific way of seeing things and your relationship with work. So good they can't ignore you and Deep work in special.

BTW, if it's the first time you hear about Call Newport I would recommend this podcast. It was the interview that got me hooked on his work. Cheers!