Productivity tip: use focus periods with time limits

Recently I had a few friends ask me for recommendations on productivity books and hacks.

Here's a quick tip to getting alot done throughout the day

Plan out your calendar with "focus periods". Here are some examples of mine:

  • Social media
  • Work - Coding
  • Work - Communication
  • Personal coding projects
  • Gym
  • Writing

You should time block a certain amount of time to each of these things, and train yourself to do nothing but those items only.

When your entire mental state is focused on one set of objectives, nothing else really matters in that moment. If you want to plan a party, send all your invites and messages in one shot. If you need to build a big feature for an app, give yourself enough time to build it in one sitting.

In any case, context switching takes time and energy. Multitasking multiple of these items can be stressful, so focus on one given thing at a time.

The trick to maximizing output in these focal periods is to set a time limit.

What I do tell myself is this:

  • I will give myself 1 hour to write this post.
  • I will give myself 3 hours at X night to build this feature for my personal project

Stating this verbally or on a calendar ahead of time forces you to prioritize things that matter. You add a little bit of stress in the process, but the end result is worth it.

Sometimes I might have an avalanche of tasks I need to handle. It's alot of stress just thinking about all the things I have to do for a big project. I'm building a nonprofit software developer group, so this is what I do:

  • I will spend 1 hour planning about X subject 2 days from now

Between today and 2 days from now, anytime I have a planning thought process I just defer it to 2 days from now. Unless its something I can jot down in 1 minute, I'll jot that down

Also, with every high in productivity, there needs to a low. I have at least one day a week where I give myself 5+ hours to destress and talk to nobody (I'm introverted). My phone is set to DND (do not disturb) on all but 3 times in a single day

Hi 👋

I'm Vincent Tang, a web developer specializing in modern Javascript. This website is my digital garden of notes on backend, frontend, and devops! I also run a coding podcast called Code Chefs

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