We are almost reaching the middle of the semester and some of the motivation that made us hyper-productive in the first days is diminishing. The strong period of final exams and papers is still a long way off and the sense of urgency and importance of every task seems to freeze under the inevitable arrival of the ice in Bremen. We are entering a tricky stage: teachers canceling classes due to illness, a drop in temperatures that fuels the desire to stay in bed, and the desire to start planning Christmas. But not all of us want to (or can) succumb to the temptation and put our constant pace of studying on hold. It is not a good idea to leave everything for last.
So if you want to stick with your projects and also go out for Glühwein at the Weihnachtsmarkt (like me), you have little room for procrastination. Keep calm for I will introduce you to my sexiest allies during these times of productive downturn. They are individual methods, but it helps me a lot to use them in combination and depending on the task at hand. Whether together or apart, I assure you that they won’t fail you 😉.
- The famous Pomodoro, from Cirillo (in combination with the Flowtime technique)
This candidate was born in Italy and is very well known (so much that we have already talked about him in this article: https://blogs.uni-bremen.de/eule/2021/01/13/halbzeit-wie-ihr-auch-im-2-teil-des-semesters-am-ball-bleibt/). I would say that he is beautifully simple and effective: his energy and activity just spread. A lover of cooking and time, Pomodoro (or tomato in Italian) helps you work quickly and concentrated in 25-minute intervals. He also accompanies you to take short and effective breaks throughout the day, which is quite refreshing. He’s great when you want to accomplish a lot of tasks that require little time (answering emails, updating databases, organizing the week) because he’s a specialist in keeping you stimulated and not letting you lose track. A slight warning is that Pomodoro is a bit rigid, and shallow, and needs attention all the time, so I recommend combining it with the Flowtime technique when what you need is that, to flow in the concentration space where you already entered. When you are in “your zone”, in calls or meetings that you cannot suddenly cut off when Pomodoro wants, you use your Flowtime pass to follow that interval. This is very useful when you work „deep“ (research, coding, analyzing data, or creating art) and thus you can have the improved Pomodoro.
- The tidy Kanban
This friend is Japanese and frequents companies and industries a lot. I would always invite him when it comes to teamwork because he helps provide structure. He is very visual and is perfect for identifying roadblocks. His lists are much better than a traditional “to-do” because they focus on the process and the time that each task takes, which is always different. Also, he likes to set clear and realistic boundaries. Kanban is calm, organized, and categorical, he adapts to the project, although sometimes he also falls short because he lacks the push that Pomodoro gives you to start.
- The brave Frog Eater
This partner is Canadian and loves to read Mark Twain. His favorite phrase is: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” He is not afraid of anything, so he encourages you to face the most difficult situations and end them soon when you are at your peak energy. It helps a lot when you don’t know where to start. He understands what’s the most important for you and brings you closer to what is likely to have the most impact on your life. Prefers action to words, and he is also somewhat impulsive. He probably exercises every day.
- The ruthless Eisenhower
The last gem is American, also a bit pretentious. He likes to prioritize and does not tempt his heart. He is more schematic than Kanban and uses a matrix where he separates urgent from important. Eisenhower can teach you to delegate tasks, to establish deadlines, to schedule, to do or to eliminate. He is intelligent and thoughtful. Helps you understand where you are „wasting“ time and energy. Works well in conjunction with Pomodoro.
As you can see methods aren’t perfect and aren’t going to do the job for us, but they are like Mario Party gifts (we can keep them and bring them to the game when it suits us or when we need them most). Finally, it is worth mentioning other invaluable productivity boosts (proper environments to invite your favorite ally to): motivation in a glass/cup/shot, sports, support meetings with colleagues, and, of course, your favorite comfort food.
How about you? Would you like to introduce any other appealing productivity methods? Let me know in the comments who you already knew, who’d you like to meet, or what works best for you and your projects.
Much success in this last stretch before the holidays!