Productivity is like a Train

Productivity is like a train. You start off slow and begin to pick up speed until you're just chugging along. Distractions slow you down and result in you having to pick up steam again. Some people are trolleys while others are bullet trains.

I just wish I wasn't stuck at the station all the time.

Published April 13, 2006 · Updated September 14, 2006
Categorized as Writing
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Josh Delsman said on April 13, 2006

You really do like your metaphors, don't you? :)

I really wish someone would come up with a manifesto on how to boost productivity, creativity — and maybe even how to find inspiration in things.

Sam said on April 13, 2006

At leas you can afford your trains engine.

Johan said on April 13, 2006

freelancer woos ??

working at home

Dominic said on April 13, 2006

Oh, this is just dying for a Ruby on Rails analogy.

Nathan Smith said on April 13, 2006

Dude, at least you've got a ticket for the train. I'm still standing in line at the ticket counter, realizing I'm a few bucks short. :)

Sean Sperte said on April 13, 2006

PERFECT analogy. No wonder I feel it necessary to remove distractions -- if I get derailed during a project it's so hard to get going again.

Love it.

Bernie Zimmermann said on April 15, 2006

My problem is I've got tickets for about 20 different trains and can't decide which one to get on.

Adam said on April 17, 2006

omg, i am like this everyday but never thought how to explain it!! this is perfect.

i have the money and the tools to buy the tickets but cant find the ticket booth!

id like to try and sit under a tree on a hot day with my ibook, the birds and the bees. thentry do some work to get out the station, the problem is round my way there are no trees and even if there where id get mugged and shot.

Roy Teo said on April 17, 2006

Guys I was facing the same problem. There are days when I just sit there in front of my monitor tinkering with my Web 2.0 application. After few hours I actually managed to convince myself that Ive actually accomplished something but when I got really honest with myself, I realized that I have done basically nothing.

I have learnt a couple of productivity factors myself that I thought I can share with you all.

You should clean up all the empty cans or bawls bottles on your desk. A virtually empty desk gives you a sense of well being, zen if you will, and motivation to actually do something productive. Check if your computer is making too much noise. Your ears are so accustomed to the noise that that more often than not, you will realize how loud it is when you think about it consciously. That is the sad part, the humming noise is affecting us subconsciously without us realizing it. This is one of the reason that I am thinking about getting a Mac Mini. After supposedly spending $200 of "quiet mods" for my PC, I still ended up with an unacceptable noise level.

Turn off the damn computer:
Oh yes, you heard it right. Sometimes it helps to get back to the offline world. I dont know about you guys but for me, I prefer to design the structure and anatomy of my application on pen and large piece of paper.

Everyone has their own optimum temperature range. You just gonna find out by trial and error. Try to keep yourself within that range. According to Joel Spolsky, the ideal temperature is 68 and 72 degrees.

Taking a cold shower:
I noticed that taking cold showers usually picks me up when I feel like I am reaching my productivity trough, especially so when Ive gone through days without taking one.

Adam said on April 18, 2006

Roy your comment is interesting and the PC one I find really interesting, the noise really bugs me at times. Now and then it will just vibrate like its about to explode, a swift kick later and its fine.

Hopefully when I take delivery of my shiny new imac (i need to get the money first), Hopefully my noise levels will drop.

Your post has inspired me to give my room a good tidy and open the god dam curtains for the first time in about 4 weeks. (sunlight, funny monitor angle = glare etc)

Id like to try the cold show method too but I dont have a shower. . .. maybe something to work on!

The drawing with pen and paper method doesnt really work for me though for some reason. Maybe because i suck at using them.

Chad said on April 19, 2006

I feel the same way about productivity, I often struggle with projects I want to do on my free time, work consumes most of my day with stuff I have to do.... so I find myself going home, coming up with an idea ( ) then never ever finishing it.... its very frustrating..

as for Roy... every database design or complex program I write is ALWAYS born on a piece of paper or a white board ... it has become a staple of my design process ... I used to pseudo code... now I just draw charts with little snippets of code near them... really helps me visualize the project as a whole, it also makes for good reference when you get knee deep in the project and have a brain fart ;)

Roy you forgot one though... Caffine... a nice Ice coffee after the cold shower really gets the gears going again ;)

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.