Simple Productivity Hacks # 2

Wanted to share few productivity hacks and resources that I have dug up this past month — while nursing an injury is boring enough, it does give you ample time to explore the awesomeness of internet. I encourage you to look these up and even use it or a day or two (longer if they serve your purpose). They may change the way you work or look at work. They certainly have changed the way how I effectively work, especially from home. I totally hate it!

Word of advice — this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. We have our strengths and weaknesses. I know people who can be super-productive in a super-chaotic environment! And then there are some who need pin-drop silence. I am one of them.

The point: never assume if it’s okay for you, it’s okay for the person sitting next to you as well. Likewise, these apps work for me because of my different priorities, perspectives, and working style. Some of us may choose to shun these altogether, which is fine. The modus operandi should be to be patient with them because most of the time, it’s the users who can’t figure out how to make them work. Essentially, these apps offer a specific solution to some of our daily challenges.

Enough said. Here’s the list:

  1. Focus: Download the StayFocusd app from the Chrome store. This will be installed in your browser. Perfect app to block out distractions like Facebook, YouTube, Shopping sites and any other social networking and media sites. I personally use the Freedom and Anti-Social app (made by the same company), but they are paid… and I know nobody likes to pay money for apps. (Which is weird by the way, but I digress…)
  1. Pomodoro: A very simple concept. Work for 25 minutes (with the StayFocusd app on, of course!) and take a five-minute break. It works wonders! The 25-minute deadline pushes you to churn out some incredible work! However, the biggest challenge most of us will face is the 5-minute break — and I can tell from that expression in your face, this will be tough. It is. Because we have never tried it. But very productive indeed.

Since I have been using this for a while, I am at an advanced level. I prefer to work with the 50/10-minute rule — 50 minutes of focused work followed by a 10-minute break. (I literally doubled the work and break times.)

Here’s the best part: you do three rounds of 25/5 or 50/10 and take a 30-minute break. And you do absolutely nothing that is work-related if you are WFH. If you are in office, this is a good time for meetings, brainstorming ideas that’s different from what you were working on, and/or just close your eyes and breathe. The key is to take your mind off of work and come back strongly.

So, it goes like this:

Round 1: 50 minutes’ work

Break: 10 minutes

Round 2: 50 minutes’ work

Break: 10 minutes

Round 3: 50 minutes’ work

Break: 30 minutes

Rinse and repeat!

  1. Concentration: You either have it or don’t. If you don’t you need help. Here’s a cool way to spike up your levels of concentration — listen to some music! Yes, it’s been scientifically proven that listening to music enhances productivity. The catch — not your favorite rock or pop number, but ambient music. Get a load full (for free!) from here:

If you would like to pay or have an Apple Music (or similar service) subscription. Search for Brainwave Entertainment. Here’s the website:

  1. HabitsRPG: This is the coolest new app to install a new habit in your operating system — that one that is inside your head (not your computer!). It literally, gamifies the whole experience. You can place a bet with your friends (if they’ve got an account) to increase the stakes. I used this to get back into the habit of meditating and journaling daily. Sign-up for an account (free again!) here:

Alright, that’s it for now. I hope you try these apps/services out. I think work can be fun, if you allow it to be. Of course, if you’re having fun all the time, focus wouldn’t come easy. The most productive and successful professionals rely on their focus more than anything else.

How do you choose to work today?


[This post was originally an email to my work colleagues while I was working from home in January this year, nursing my fracture.]

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