Ernest Hemmingway never ate at his desk, he never talked on the phone or read the newspaper… opened up his mail when he was at his desk. When he was at his desk he wrote, that’s it!
In Mason Currey’s book Daily Rituals we get a real look at how that works. He was writing while standing, Hemmingway created this specific place where he did only one thing. He always used the same tools, stood in the same place, wrote the exact same way every single day.
Now we can work anywhere, but there is a cost – we don’t acknowledge our environment anymore, we are constantly staring at our computer. This is a mistake. Our unconscious mind is always aware of our surroundings whether we are aware of it or not – all of the time.
It does that to automate our thoughts and habits and create rituals out of them.
3 ways to boost your productivity, get more focused (in the zone) and use the time that you spend working more effectively:
- Designate work-only zones – Ernest knew exactly what he had to do when he was at his desk, he didn’t have multiple options (reward, work, exercise…) He did nothing else there. That’s why you need to designate multiple places for multiple activities that you do because when you are there it’s a lot easier to get into what you are doing.
Anchor one place to one specific location and only do that task there.
One of the best examples of this is our bed – we check our phone there, read emails, work, watch TV… and then we wonder why we can’t fall asleep there (why our brain won’t shut off.) Because we are using our bed for all kinds of things, for work and for play… and now the bed is no longer a great place to do what it’s meant to do which is to sleep and dream because you are confusing it by doing different kinds of things in that place.
The other example is brainstorming new ideas – don’t do that in the same place where you check your emails and do day-to-day things, pick up your computer, or a pen and paper and go somewhere else. When you find a place that works for a specific activity, only do that thing there – always, and only that activity, nothing else.
- Set the right soundtrack – sound is a huge part of our physical environment even if we are not aware of it. The good news is that soundtracks can easily be inserted in your workflow (music.) Find a specific song and play it on repeat when you are doing a specific task (checking e-mail.) This helps a lot especially when you are not feeling great about doing that activity because as soon as that song starts, you will go do that task much easier.
The choice of the music isn’t that important, some people even pick music that they don’t like (you don’t have to go to that extreme.)
- Give your devices specific task – you may not think about your devices as a physical environment within itself, but when we look into a screen our brain doesn’t know the difference between a real world and a digital world. That’s why we feel the exact same emotion when we watch a movie then we would if that would have been happening to us.
We should use our devices to support different types of work (personal computer, work computer, work phone, home phone, old iPad, new iPad, Kindle…)
Don’t have anything that your mind could wonder about – when you have a hard problem that you have to solve and if you have Netflix on the same device, your mind will wonder and try to trick you into doing something that requires less effort (Netflix, checking an email), but that can’t happen if you don’t have that on your device.
Basically, use a different environment for different tasks, use music to enhance that (the same music) and use different devices for different tasks.
Learn more about NLP: https://www.mitjadolinsek.com/nlp/