Ask a bunch of startup founders what their favourite productivity hacks are and you’ll get some creative answers. This Quora post elicited a long list of answers: destroy your Facebook account, try “no-meeting Wednesdays,” follow your body’s Ultradian rhythms (natural cycles). But my favourite advice comes from tech advisor Matt DeCelles, who takes the cold turkey approach to productivity: cut yourself off from distractions no matter how much it hurts.
It may sound simple, but it’s hard to unplug. Our addiction to our smart phones alone can be hard to quash (read: How to Control Check-In Addiction). DeCelle suggests some simple tools to help you cut the cord completely. Don’t worry, it’s just temporary.
First, DeCelles runs through a few basic tricks for setting priorities:
1. Use Trello.com to map out all tasks company wide. This gives a macro view of whats going on and allows you to delegate tasks that may better be completed by another person. He suggests using AgileZen.com, Asana.com or kanbanflow.com to manage tasks.
2. Delegate, and not necessarily to your employees. Sites like Fiverr.com, Elance.com and ODesk.com let you outsource pretty much any service. (Of course, that’s assuming you’re OK with sending work overseas.)
3. Use a whiteboard/post-it combo to visualize the most important tasks that you’re assigned to yourself.
And now, the trick to actually getting it all done:
1. Set your phone and computer to do not disturb mode. (All of his advice is specific to Apple users.) On a Mac, pull out the Notification Center and scroll up. There’s a hidden switch that allows you to shut off Alerts and Banners. On your phone, turn off vibrate and all sounds. There’s a new feature (for the iPhone iOS 6) that resumes notifications automatically the next day if you’ve forgotten to turn them back on.
2. Remove temptations with SelfControl, a tool that blocks websites you’ve listed as distracting for a set period of time. “Once you set it, there is no way to shut it off until the time expires…which makes you feel like an addict going through withdrawal,” writes DeCelles. For this to work, you have to keep a running list of sites to blacklist.
I’m not the only one who likes DeCelles’ advice. His post racked up 1,376 votes.
What do you think? Is this approach for the weak, or is it useful to remove temptation when you’re trying to get work done? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.
For more productivity tips, read: