I know I’m not the only one out there who googles ‘best productivity tips’ in my free time but then does nothing to change my lifestyle. Anyone else? Put your hands up.

But, in the middle of a self-improvement kick, I came across this list. I had also recently read about trying something new for a month as a way of testing it out. I decided to bite the bullet. The month of September became my science experiment!

Note: it has nine tips but I decided to shorten it to four in the interest of keeping things brief (and feasible).

Four tips. One month. How hard could it be?

I was about to find out.

Tip 1: Get up early every day.

Well, this one was hardly an original one. Still, I set my alarm for five AM (I normally get up at 7:30) and resigned myself to a lot of early morning coffees.

In practice, it was hard. There’s a reason people who joyfully get up at the crack of dawn are productive, and it’s because they’ve sold their souls to Satan. I s t r u g g l e d to get myself up and attempt every day.

“man standing on mountain peak” by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

But I did it.

The results?

I was very tired. Predictably.

Was I more productive? Perhaps my mornings were a little more energetic, sure, but then I found my typical 3 PM slump became much more powerful than normal.

I also ended up missing out on a lot of time with my SO because I went to bed at 9 PM every night to try to feel less exhausted.

Conclusion?

Not for me. Very happily I set my alarm back to 7:30.

Weird Productivity List: 0

Elena’s inherent laziness: 1

Tip 2: Keep your desk clean

“silver iMac, Apple Wireless Keyboard, and Apple Magic TrackPad near table lamp” by Thomas Quaritsch on Unsplash

I am so guilty of this one. My desk is a MESS at home and at work.

At home, my cats perpetually bat papers and other small objects onto the floor and more often than not, I just leave them in untidy piles on the desk.

At work, I’m usually way more interested in going home than spending extra time keeping things organized.

So I committed to a system: a clean desk, no matter what, by the end of the day. At work this was easier as I have a large filing cabinet. I spent 10 minutes at the end of each day ensuring everything was put away properly.

At home it was a bit trickier (no filing cabinet) and I suspect I simply recycled a lot more paper that I normally would hoard for longer.

The results?

I’ll take this one as a win. During the month, a client called about a previous conversation and I was able to find the notes referring back to that call in a flash! Very unlike me. I think also as time goes on, I will get better at organizing and it’ll take less time.

At home? I found I was much more inclined to spend time at my beautiful neat desk, working on my writing.

Conclusion?

I’m keeping this one!

Weird Productivity List: 1

Elena’s inherent laziness: 1

Tip 3: Take cold showers

“gray metal handheld shower head” by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

I can tell you now: after waking up at five in the morning, there was nothing I wanted to do LESS than have a cold shower.

But I was dedicated to the list. And this article. So I cranked the shower temperature from my typical scalding down to a frigid.

It was rough.

The results?

I had shorter showers. And fewer of them, if I’m being honest. My productivity levels were not affected that I noticed. I just dreaded waking up all the more.

Conclusion?

Back to hot showers for me!

Weird Productivity List: 1

Elena’s inherent laziness: 2

Tip 4: Set an incredibly unrealistic goal

“flying basketball and basketball hoop under blue sky during daytime” by Nabil Aiman on Unsplash

 The logic behind this one was to ‘overwhelm the brain,’ which then (hopefully) would expand and get activated upon failure.

Like a lot of writers, I’m pretty hard on myself. I find it difficult to believe I’ll ever amount to much or accomplish anything. I was not super keen on the idea of setting myself up to immediately fail.

Still, if the list said to come up with an incredibly unrealistic goal, who was I to question it?

My goal: write 2,000 words of my novel idea every day for the whole month.

The results?

Getting up at five actually helped the first few days, but then I found all I could write about was my character’s desire to go back to bed. I failed on day 4, when I got home late from a work trip which had run over. We ordered Deliveroo and watched some Netflix. I did not write a word.

The next day, I was determined to meet my goal. I worked during my lunch break, spent some of my morning scribbling, and wrote as my boyfriend cooked dinner.

Did I activate my brain? Maybe. But I also felt a little garbage that I’d set a goal and hadn’t accomplished it, even though that was the point.

Conclusion?

The jury’s out. It’s possible it helped, it’s possible I would have written more if there hadn’t been as much pressure.

Weird Productivity List: 1.5

Elena’s inherent laziness: 2.5


The Takeaway

This list was not a magic recipe for productiveness, but maybe there’s some truth in it regardless. I think for now I will remain a sceptic of any list which promises nine surefire ways to increase productivity.

Cat mom, writer-to-be, lover of science. I love reading, running, and writing.
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Cat mom, writer-to-be, lover of science. I love reading, running, and writing.
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