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Productivity Without Power

Productivity Without Power

20090406-productivity-without-power

    We live in interesting times. In the last decade, there have been phenomenal advances in computer technology. Tiny computers — netbooks and even smartphones — let us carry power to rival the best desktops of a decade ago, allowing us to work just about  anywhere. Web 2.0 applications ranging from simple to-do lists to full-featured word processors, spreadsheets, and even graphics editors let us create, store, access, and share data, documents, and other material easily, and often for free. Easy-to-use software keeps track of our task lists, our project plans, even our passing thoughts — and we can use text, touch, even our voices to enter data.

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    Unless, of course, your battery dies. Which, with all the computing power we’re squeezing out of it, it does pretty quickly.  And, of course, our PCs, laptops,netbooks, and smartphones are pretty fragile — a drop on the sidewalk or into the toilet, a power surge or spilled coffee, and the teething of puppies (ask me what happened to my old cell phone…) can take us offline and out of service pretty quick, leaving us… HELPLESS!

    Getting Things Done, Old School

    Of course, we didn’t always have all these amazing gadgets at our disposal, and yet somehow things got done. The Hoover Dam, Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, Eiffel Tower, Pyramids of Egypt, Great Wall of China, and Washington Monument were all “got done” with nary a microprocessor. Ford Motor Co., Edison Electric, US Steel, and Union Pacific Railroad were built without using a single Web 2.0 app. And the empires of Britain, Rome, Persia, China, and the Soviet Union were conquered without a single Twitter, text message, email, or push-to-talk phone.

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    Amazing, isn’t it?

    With Earth Day coming up this month (and Earth Hour a few days behind us), we thought it would be worthwhile this month to look at how we can stay productive without the bells and whistles of modern technology. Using paper instead of a spreadsheet, pencils instead ofthumb-boards , ink instead of e-ink may not ultimately be any better for the environment — the production of paper does a pretty big job on the environment, between the trees cut down and the chemicals used in processing it — but at least thinking about these issues should make us stop a moment and consider what we’re really doing when we throw a power switch just to enter a to-do list item.

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    On a more practical note, learning to be productive without power gives us options. Not only that, non-electronic productivity tools help make us bulletproof, allowing us to stay targeted and productive even when our technological systems fail us.

    So I’ve asked all our contributors to share their favorite tips about productivity beyond the computer this month. We’ll talk about Moleskine hacks, paper lists, mind-mapping, sketching ideas with pen and paper, and much more. And we’ll be asking for your input — what are your favorite no-batteries-needed productivity tricks?

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    And around the middle of the month, we’ll be announcing a unique opportunity for Lifehack readers. I’m not entirely at liberty to spell out any details, but let’s just say it has something to do witheveryone’s favorite notebook. Oh, I’m sure I’ve said far too much already — just keep reading and keep your eyes open come mid-April.

    And hey, feel free to ask questions, too — I’ve got a crew of great writers here, and all of us want to know how we can best help the community of Lifehack readers. If there’s something you’d like to know, especially if it has to do with staying productive without relying on technology, leave a comment on a post or visit our contact page and send  us an email.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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