Matt and Scott share their strategies for improving your productivity so that you can spend less time working on mundane tasks and more time on the things that bring you value, like strength training.
Improve Your Tools and Workspace
Both Matt and Scott agree that buying high quality items that you use all the time can make a big difference in your workflow and overall productivity. Give yourself good tools for the tasks you do often, and they will make your work experience better and last a long time.
Scott’s Recommended Tools
- Big Computer Monitor (preferably two): A good work environment is crucial to getting work done efficiently. Most of us work on computers these days, so Scott recommends getting a big monitor, or, even better, multiple big monitors. As he says, Microsoft calls the home screen a desktop, so if the computer screen is your desktop, you ought to give yourself lots of room to work with. Monitors are relatively cheap, so get a big one, or two, and move your peripheral windows and tabs to the side so you can keep your main work front and center.
- Laptop docking station: for centralizing all cables and dongles on your desk
- Canon P215 desktop scanner: for digitizing important documents, so you don’t have to keep up with archiving physical papers. It’s small enough to bring on a business trip if needed.
- Tom Bihn Synapse 25 Backpack: Scott’s preferred backpack, because all cords, batteries, and laptops can be removed for airport security but they remain tethered to the bag, reducing your chance of losing them in security. It’s also big enough to handle a 2 or 3 day trip, including clothes.
- eBags Professional Slim Backpack: has a pocket for laptops (with hard edges to protect the computer), plenty of pockets for cables, chargers, USB dongles, and writing implements
- External battery pack: for charging cell phones and even computers. A good battery pack can charge your phone several times.
- Noise-Canceling Headphones: for canceling out background noise and minimizing distractions when working in public spaces. Matt likes either the Bose QuietComfort or Sony WH1000XM3 models — expensive but worth it when you need to focus, especially if you travel frequently.
- Sidewinder Macbook Charger: this charger winds up compact so you don’t have to deal with extra power cable
It almost goes without saying, don’t forget to use your smartphones to work for you. Smartphones can be a source of major distractions, but they also have lots of apps that can assist with your task management and scheduling. Use them (and turn off your social media notifications)!
Improve Your Productivity Strategies
Matt advocates the Pomodoro technique for getting lots of work done in short but focused bursts. He describes the technique in greater detail in the article linked below, but the basic idea is to clear your workspace of ALL distractions, turn off your phone, and work without distraction for 25 minutes, followed by a mandatory 5 minute break. Repeat this as necessary up to 4 times. After this point you’ve probably used up whatever brainpower you had, so move on to other less intensive work.
Scott likes the to-do list strategy outlined in Getting Things Done by David Allen. Most people carry around the totality of their to-do list in their head, occupying enormous mental resources which could be spent more productively on deep work and more complicated tasks. David Allen’s method involves putting down everything you’ve ever thought of that you should do “someday, maybe” on paper, so that you don’t have to think about those things alongside the more mundane, day-to-day tasks. Scott uses Evernote to accomplish this task, because it syncs with any device you may have on you at the moment, it’s easily searchable, and the company has remained true to their roots of being the best idea storage app in the market.
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