Have you ever had an a-ha moment? Maybe it's been something that you do (or don't do) and a slight shift in perspective or someone says something that brings new awareness (or the a-ha moment). I recently listened to a book summary of how to think about things in a new way: The Great Mental Models, by Shane Parrish. Listening to this summary gave me the a-ha moment about how much I've been sitting at my desk. My sweet little dog, Sassy, passed away in October. Since the pandemic, I've been working from home, so I would take her out 3 or 4 times during the course of a day. It was usually a quick 2 or 3-minute walk outside, but it got me out of my office and outside! Since she is no longer here, I no longer have her as a reason to get up periodically.
One of the mental models the author describes is using an inversion model. I applied this thinking to one of my own research passions from this past year: productivity. Rather than asking "how can I be super productive", invert the question to "how can I be as unproductive as absolutely possible." By asking this question, you can uncover blind spots about your productivity gaps. Never leaving my desk doesn't enhance my productivity; in fact, it helps contribute to my afternoon energy slump that I sometimes get!
So I asked myself the question: how can I be unproductive? There are so many ways! While this is meant to be somewhat lighthearted, it also is a look at things that I do, things that I used to do, and things that I have seen others do.
How can I be unproductive?
scroll through news feeds (and feel virtuous for keeping up on the news)
keep my phone with me at all times, keep all alerts on, and check (even in the middle of the night) when something dings
keep my email notifications on so that I can open every email the second it appears in my inbox
keep piles of stuff on my desk that I need to do later
work in a job that I don't like
equate activity with action
never leave the desk
never take time off
replay my to-do list in my head over and over
What are antidotes to unproductivity?
keep my phone charger and phone across the room at night
refrain from checking my phone until after my morning routine
creating a morning routine
take a 5 or 10-minute walk outside several times a day
clean off desk every night after work
write down (or type) my to-do list
The point of this exercise to help uncover your own productivity blindspots so that you can uncover your own gaps!