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Blog Reboot… Again, and Hacking My Productivity

Yeah, you’ve heard the spiel. Commitment, blog, regular posts, yada yada yada. I’ll make you no such promises this time – you’ve been burned before. But at the very least, it’s time for an update.

boston-callingThe boyfriend and I have just returned from a lovely weekend in Boston where we attended the Boston Calling Music Festival, which had an amazing lineup. Matt & Kim, The Shins, Andrew Bird, The Dirty Projectors, The National – we had a blast. Now it’s back to real life and the now not-so-new freelance gig, which overall is going really well. I find my friends are jealous, and honestly, I have a hard time coming up with reasons they shouldn’t be. Mostly because I get to sleep until whenever. To quote Ferris Bueller “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Working freelance has made me find out just how lazy I am, though (again – I get to sleep until whenever I want, which can usually just barely be called the morning). Lucky for me, I have a client who’s website I need to update everyday by 10:30, so I must wake up. That helps, but I’ve also been reading a bunch of productivity hacks to try to get myself more focused, which would presumably not only help my career, but also my writing and other extracurriculars.

So far, I’m combining a few methods. First, a good to-do list. A while ago, I picked up this (relatively) new app called CARROT. It’s a “sadistic to-do list” app that features great design, a good user interface, and a sense of humor that appeals to the Portal geek in me. I snagged it for free thanks to a LifeHacker deal tip off, but it’s normally only $0.99. So far I haven’t found a better to-do app, funny or not.

Next, the Pomodoro technique. Even I can convince myself to focus on one thing, and only that one thing, for 25 minutes. It really helps me keep going when I want to stop working. “Just 25 more minutes,” I tell myself and start the timer. By the time my five minute break arrives, I’ve gotten so immersed that I’m ready for another 25 minute block. I have a Chrome extension timer, but there are tons of Pomodoro extensions and apps to choose from.

I’ve also installed Rescue Time on my computer, but have yet to really use it. The program runs in the background and collects stats on how long you spend browsing Facebook, playing computer games, looking at pictures of cats, etc. As of yet, I’m too afraid to check the analytics, which is obviously crucial to shaming yourself into working harder.

Though actually, my main distraction isn’t the wide and wonderful Internet but my boyfriend, who also works from home. We spend entirely too much time together, but so far we haven’t killed each other, so there’s that. But he gets up to walk around and think about something every 15 minutes and invariably wants to tell me something about Game of Thrones or tickle me mercilessly.

All in all though, I’ve increased my productivity in hours by about 30%, which is awesome. It’s taken me a while, but I had to realize that working freelance is not a 40 hour a week job. At a traditional office job, the time you spend going to the bathroom, gazing out the window, or checking your personal email all still counts towards your eight hours of work per day. I try not to bill my clients for just living my life, so only the time I’m actually being productive gets to count. That means even if I sit down from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to work, just the time consumed by switching projects, taking little breaks, and being tickled means that I only end up billing six hours instead of eight.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it. Especially now that I think I’m getting better disciplined.

The only other thing going on is that we’ve been cooking a ton, and as you may expect from someone so heavily tech prone, we use GADGETS. Perhaps you’re familiar with my boyfriend’s and my food blog, which has also gotten a makeover. We need to update more often. Our most recent kitchen gadgetry acquisitions are very exciting, so check out the latest post here. (Here’s a hint: one of the latest gadgets was dangerous enough to necessitate the other, a fire extinguisher). 


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