I’ve been freelancing for about two and a half years now. Here’s what I’ve learned so far about staying productive:
- Make yourself accountable to someone else. Schedule regular check-ins with the people you are doing work for since you’re unlikely to want to show up to those empty-handed. If you’re not working for anyone, schedule presentations to update your family or friends on your progress. Social pressure is an amazing motivator.
- Break down larger projects into discrete chunks and assign each chunk a deadline. Projects I haven’t broken into manageable sub-tasks are less likely to ever get started, and tasks that have no deadline are unlikely to ever get finished. It might feel overly forced at first, but once your calendar/to-do list is calling the shots, it takes on its own air of authority.
- Schedule meetings in clumps. Nothing breaks up my concentration as dramatically as meetings. Since one meeting can derail an entire day, why not just plan them all on one day? Then I don’t expect to produce anything and am not disappointed in myself when I don’t.
- Get structured about email and social media. The constant stream of activity is hard to tear yourself away from, so make some rules. Unless it’s an essential tool in your work, don’t look at Twitter or Facebook until after lunch (at the earliest). Get good at delegating emails. 99% of them don’t need an immediate response, so star them and get back to work. Better still, schedule intervals for looking at your email; try first thing in the morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day.
- Keep in mind what your productivity killers are. If you know your enemy, you’re much more likely to be able to defend yourself against it. E.g. when a meeting ends, I know I have to really concentrate on getting back on track because I’m especially vulnerable to distractions at that moment.
Now stop reading this and get back to making stuff! 😉
I dare you to find out how many clicks it takes to get to the current first-class letter and postcard rates on the USPS website. Take your time. I’ll wait. Unbelievable isn’t it? I stopped counting at five.
Because I really enjoy sending and receiving physical objects through the mail, the question of current postal rates probably motivates more than half of my visits to that website. Every time it does, I am stunned by how difficult it is to find this simple bit of information.
Well, this most recent visit was the last straw. I have created two sites which exist solely to answer these questions. Behold:
Update 1/11/2016: It was a pain in the ass to keep maintaining this, plus Google started doing this “instant answers” thing where it answers certain questions you type in rather than just give you a bunch of links. Thus, I’ve decided to put those domain names to good use and just redirect them to Google’s answers. Enjoy!
Once again, I return to the spectre of the public restroom. Who on Earth designs these sinks? The water spout is so short I have to smash my hands against the basin just to get them wet. It’s enough that such a mundane interaction is rendered unnecessarily awkward, but add the questionable hygiene aspect and we have an epic UX fail on our hands.
I found a really great visualization of the state-by-state election results, linking blue and red hue to the percentage of people in the state voting Democratic or Republican (respectively). If you followed the link, you can see what a moving image it paints: No corner of this country is ALL blue or ALL red (despite the impression we might get from media coverage of the results).
Another map I stumbled upon showed these same election results, but warping the size of each state based on the state’s population. This distortion made it a hard map for me to look at and make any sense of, so I thought I’d explore alternatives, while also incorporating this idea of purple states.
Below are the results of this experiment. One thing to note: Alaska and Hawaii are on all three maps! Their populations just make them either very light, very small, or very far away.
Given the raging success of isitsnowingrightnow.com, we weren’t surprised to receive a special request for isitrainingrightnow.com.