• Patrick McAndrew

Productivity Hacks: The Unicorn with the Timeturner

A friend of mine recently contacted me to gain some insight and advice for self-preservation and productivity.  I never really saw myself as a guru or coach of this sort, but I have been called a magical unicorn and questioned as to whether or not I have a time turner (I’m sorry, friends, but I do not…though that would be pretty awesome if I did!)

It seems in our crazy, busy, multi-tasking lives it is hard to grasp the concept of what it truly means to be productive.  How can we have time to think about it?  We have this and that to do, this phone call, those e-mails, that meeting, all of which seem highly urgent and important.  In our hyper-connected world, it appears that there is always something taking up our time.  The e-mails continuously filter in, the smartphones bing or buzz constantly, and it feels like we barely have any room to breathe throughout our days.  “Productivity?  All I know is that I have a TON to get done, so I am trying to be productive!”

I stumbled upon this great article titled The Science of Productivity.  Gregory Ciotti, who wrote the article, collaborated with ASAPScience who created a video on the topic which you can watch below:

There were some pretty enlightening takeaways that I took from the article.  Here is my own take on three key points within the article.

  • Bite the Bullet (ouch!)

Nobody wants to sit down and do an arduous task, even if it’s not that arduous.  Human beings are naturally lazy, as we try to take the path of least resistance.  However, you must pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get it done.  I’ve oddly never been much of a procrastinator.  Of course, I have my moments, as everyone does, but it has always made more sense to me to get something done and over with so then I don’t have to worry about it.  Despite a negative reputation, I always give mad props to the procrastinator because they can complete most if not a whole task just before it is due.  That, in a lot of ways, is productive and deserves its own credit.  When it’s not productive, however, is when you also have other tasks you must complete.  Brian Tracy, a public speaker and self-development author, has a book called Eat That Frog! which is about completing your hardest task at the beginning of the day.  When it’s over, then everything else seems easy.  This is something I always try to do when I face an important task.  It’s the reason I eat my vegetables first at dinner time.

  • Windows of Time

Whenever anyone asks me how I get my work done, I always say it’s about the windows of time.  If you have an available moment, take advantage of it!  Those windows of time are crucial in getting high-value tasks done.  Like Gregory Ciotti talks about in the article, we are able to amp up our productivity by scheduling out our days.  If you have a window of time of say an hour or two, make the most of it.  Your future self will thank you.

Don’t have a window of time?  Evaluate your low-value tasks.  So much of our time is flushed away while we are getting caught up on unimportant e-mails or scrolling through social media.  Aim to make that time more productive and then take a little break.  Schedule out your tasks and schedule out your breaks.

  • No Multi-tasking

My friends and I use to play this game called Multi-square, which was essentially four square but with anywhere from 10-20 of us!  It was amazing!  But come time when you’re King, you have multiple people working together to get you out and dethrone you.  And when you get dethroned, it is soooo sad, as you walk past several of your competitors to the lowly, last square.  I kind of see multi-tasking this way.  There are multiple tasks thrown at us from all directions and we are trying so very hard to tackle them all at once until eventually we are dethroned.  Though there is no escaping this in Multi-square, we can escape the endless barrage of tasks in our day to day lives.  By focusing on one task at a time, we can complete said task more efficiently and quicker than working on a bunch of tasks at the same time.  This goes against common believe.  Employers on job applications always say they are looking for someone who is a “great multi-tasker.”  But the multi-tasking route is not the most productive and those who swear by it will often find themselves overwhelmed, stressed out, and anxious.  When we complete tasks in full, we feel more accomplished and energized to complete our next task, and then our next, leading to a more productive day.

With always being digitally connected, we seem to be in a never-ending cycle of busyness.  But if we keep in mind the words of Ciotti and ASAPScience, we can get a lot more done in a shorter period of time.  Bite the bullet, take advantage of those windows of time, and focus on one task at a time.  If you try this, people may start saying to you, “Hey, is that a necklace, or a TIMETURNER around your neck?!” Or they may say, “You…you might just be a unicorn.”  To which you can reply:

Let me know your thoughts below!  Are these words of wisdom?  Or was reading this blog post a waste of your productivity?

Your friend,


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