A frustrated high school adviser once told us to make a time table for everything that we need to get done throughout the day and stick to it, so we don’t reason out “I forgot” when asked to turn in a homework and early on we build our discipline on productivity. Then a classmate told me, “But I’m not time-oriented, I’m more of a task-oriented person. How ’bout you?” Then I was just like, “Uhm, mood-oriented?”
I tend to be more productive and finish more stuff when I’m in the mood — in the zone, in the momentum — you all get what I say. My brain cells need to be boiling enough to get things started and get things working. I tried being either task- or time-oriented productive type of person — I still am trying ’til now, ‘cos, work — but the mood really prevails. It’s like taking a bath but despite hearing the tick of the clock you still wait and gather the strength to dip in ’til the water temperature is just about right.
Your best friend is a planner or a phone app that has time stamps on it. Each bit of the hour has an assigned task to spend with. Each break time has an alarm. You give your tasks certain weight of priority, ie., the minutes, and finished or not finished, when that right hand of the clock touches that number, you should just move on to the next task. If done right, this is a very progressive way to get multiple projects done efficiently.
The con and how to deal with it–
The thing here is sometimes, you get overly conscious of the time and tend to check on the alarm or timer if you’re running out of minutes. Then eventually, cram. Key here is do all the alarms while planning the day, and when actually doing the tasks, keep your phone a little away from you — no temptation to check the time, no temptation to check the notifications. There’s a reason why successful people answer this to questions of writers of “X Habits of Highly Productive People” posts, because it so works. Well, if you’re working with a laptop (and most likely yes), why not enable auto-hide the taskbar setting?
I did this time-oriented style during my six-month review for the CPA board exam. Review school in the morning, go home and have lunch, plan what to study for the rest of the day, have a one- to two-hour nap (a nap?), then allot an hour or so for each subject I planned to attack until night time. I take 20-minute breaks to relax my mind from all the accounting problems, and put it on timer. Struggled on making sure the nap was only until 15 minutes of pure nap first, but I guess if I legalize the two hours, managing the time would be easy and less guilty to follow.
You lay down all the task you need to get done in a day in your planner or phone app or handy-dandy notebook, then you attack on the prioritized bit and finish all of it before moving on to task number two. You see tasks move from the to-do bucket to the completed bucket, which gives a sense of fulfillment.
The con and how to deal with it–
When a certain project is too big, you tend to get overwhelmed, and dedicate a whole day to do it, leaving other tasks behind plus with a risk of not actually completing the task at hand. For these people, it’s better to apply chunking the project to small tasks, — small, specific, and well-defined tasks. This way, progress is still visible and measured, and other tasks also get the same amount of attention from you.
I am currently getting the hang of this at work. I need to plan my projects and define their phases carefully. I’m struggling ‘cos probably I tend to chunk the project into really small tasks that when I complete these small tasks I feel there’s so much more to do that I can’t wait to jump right over to the next bit.
Alright. I just made this up. I Googled ‘mood-oriented’ and there’s no such result that related to productivity. And for me this is how I combine being time-oriented and task-oriented. It all boils down to discipline anyway. But this is how I justify my laziness to get things done — I am mood-oriented.
I finish stuff when my mood picks up — whether that’s during my commute to work, when settled in bed, even when the deadline is in the next two weeks yet. Sometimes I tend to do more of what’s not yet needed than what’s about to be due tomorrow. I get bothered when I don’t get to work on what I want to do, to the point that it disrupts me from the work that I need to do now. Of course before going to bed I still list down what needs to be accomplished for the next day, then work my way through the following day.
The con and how to deal with it–
But what if I am not in the mood all day? That’s the critical point of this style. What I do is first get in front of the laptop, and when I say laptop, it’s on the Word document I’m working on, or the WordPress dashboard where I’m about to write a post, or the Excel sheet I’m gonna create a macro on. Then I listen to pop music that I know the lyrics of and party in my seat (when at home) or in my mind (when in the office). Mood picking up eventually, I shift to a playlist of pop songs which I don’t know the lyrics of, and turn the volume down a bit. That’s when my mind has been conditioned, and the focus has settled. I don’t know the lyrics so I don’t sing along and just party in my mind.
The trick sounds so weird but it so works for me. 15 minutes ago I was listening to DJ Earworm’s United State of Pop playlist starting from 2010 onwards, and my mood kinda picked up at 2014, which was good ‘cos at 2015 I can’t keep up with the lyrics as the mashup is relatively new to me. Haha.
I just don’t know what apps I can suggest to support mood-oriented, perhaps Spotify or YouTube? Or just design your area to be worthy of staying in for a more productive time. Or go to a coffee shop. Your call. Your deadline, your success growth, your discipline.
Real talk on productivity
Ironic are what I’m going to say next. I have given you app suggestions above. They’re all cute and simple and easy to use. But as I adult, I’ve realized that overusing these apps tend to slash some precious minutes in my planning (you know, categorizing stuff and tagging colors to them). Sometimes I also get frustrated when I forget to update them real-time. So I just went back to the traditional planner or journal thing, the ones that can race with my mind as ideas come ‘cos writing is faster than typing (for me!). But productivity is never a one-approach thing for everybody. It’s personality-based. As long as we get to our own end-goal the most efficiently, then we good!