The two main things I've been thinking about this year (except tons of other important things) are productivity and motivation. Sometimes even things that you really love and enjoy become less interesting for you, because you do them each day during a long period of time without switching to other things. You lose your interest in these things, your motivation becomes worse and as a result your productivity is low. For example, I really love and enjoy programming and I can spend the whole day or weeks sitting in my armchair with my laptop just coding. But we should not forget that job isn't the only thing in the world. Sometimes we need to add more colors to our lives. I believe that new things may help you rest in some sense, improve your mood, motivation and creativity if you want. You may become a much more energetic, with greater motivation than ever before, just because you have so many different and interesting things in your life. In this article I'm going to write about the experiment that I plan to do in the next 30 days to add something new to my schedule and try to become more productive at the same time.
A long time ago I found one interesting talk on ted.com. Matt Cutts - an engineer at Google, where he fights linkspam and helps webmasters understand how search works, talked about his experiment:
each 30 days he adds a few new things to his life and also removes a few that he doesn't like. I don't want to repeat all his words here, I just recommend you watching his talk:
this video has subtitles for more than 60ty languages, so even if you have any troubles with English, I hope you can turn subtitles on in your native language and get the whole sense of this video.
My list of changes
As we're talking about productivity and motivation, I decided to form my list of new things accordingly to these terms. First of all I want to remove distracting things that I eventually don't need, but for some reasons constantly spend time on.
- No TV (news, movies): I know that you're going to say that it's almost identical to Matt's point, but I really spend a lot of time watching news and think I can spend this time more productively or at least more interesting. For example I watch news each evening when I eat. You may say that it's probably only a 15-20 minutes of my time... but you're wrong. Instead of a quick dinner (~15-20 minutes) I eat 1.5-2 hours. Still think that it isn't waste of time? :)
- No movies: I'm smart and crafty enough to say that first point doesn't tell me that I can't watch movies on the Internet or DVD. That's why I need this point too. So, I plan to exclude movies and news in any form from my life for a month
- No swear words: Yes, I'm guilty. Time to time I use these strong words, especially when I watch political news on TV. I hope that exclusion of TV news for a month will help me with this point too, but I'll do my best to control myself
Now let's switch to pleasant things, that should make my free time more interesting, mood and motivation better and return even bigger desire to work and dive in programming.
+ 1000 pull ups: during last year I became a little lazy (I guess a lot of programmers are lazy, or they wouldn't automate so many things). This way I plan to improve my health and add another type of activity in my days: not only "brain" type of work (or fingers on keyboard type), but something physical too. If we divide 1000 on month, we will understand that I need to do ~33 pull ups per day. Not so hard, right?
+ Visit another city: it may be a travel for one day or more, it doesn't matter. With our type of work we almost don't move and spend a lot of our time in offices, damn... we almost live there :) The main idea behind this point is to change environment from time to time, get new experience and emotions. You don't need to travel abroad, new places are much much closer than you think.
+ Learn basic things about SEO: I know some programming stuff, but I'm a noob in SEO. During next 30 days I want to learn at least some basic things in this area, because it's quite useful and seems interesting for me right now. If you're reading this article and it's not the 4th of January now, then, probably, I did some SEO changes in this blog.
I plan to follow my list of changes from 4th of January and then share my results with everybody who is interested in. if you tried this experiment or did other experiments that helped you, it would be cool to get a comment from you, thanks.
The result after a month
One month is far away behind now and I can finally share my results. First of all I want to point out that I did every single point from my list and I'm quite happy with it. Let's start from things that I wanted to remove from my life for a month:
This one was the hardest one to follow, because I really liked to spend hours watching TV and drinking tea. First four to five days were a big challenge for me, but then it became much easier to follow and avoid TV. If you want to try it, just be careful within these first days. I'd watched TV for an hour or two before I've started the experiment. So excluding TV for a month I got ~30-60 free hours that I could spend in another way. Pretty awesome, especially when many people complain all the time that they don't have enough free time.
For some reasons there was only one movie that I wanted to watch that month - Viy (in Russian with English subtitles). I can't say that this point was hard or easy to follow, I think it was something in the middle. I thought a couple of times about Viy, but nothing more. I'm not sure that this point gave me some big benefits.
I used swear words when I watched TV (news and politics) and that's why after I excluded TV, this problem dissapeared by itself. It didn't require anything to do, because the main reason - TV was removed.
Here I want to mention one interesting thing that I noticed during my experiment with TV point. I understood, again, that people are tricky and always try to find a way around something that is restricted. I knew that I couldn't watch TV, but after 15-20 days of experiment I found a loop hole. I couldn't watch, but nobody said that I couldn't listen to TV. So a few times I just listened to news and politics and even if it wasn't restricted I still feel guilty for that :)
Now, let's go through three points that I added for a month:
1000 pull ups
I thought it would be an easy walk, but I was wrong. Almost all the time I was behind my own schedule, because sometimes I missed a day or two, sometimes I couldn't do as many pull ups as I had to. As in any training, things become easier when you do them day after day. At the end of the last week it wasn't a problem to do 50-60 pull ups during a day. In the end I did 1004 pull ups and felt very happy with it.
visit another city
I chose Alushta (it's in Crimea), because I wasn't there for at least 6 years, maybe more and it was interesting for me to visit the city that I like. Here is a few photos that I shot there:
It was a good trip: sea, beautiful nature, tasty food and no politics, work or any thoughts at all for a day. I just enjoyed and that's it. Good feeling. After such rest my brain works much better and I have more enthusiasm to do new things.
learn basic thigns about SEO
I've spent a lot of time reading about SEO and have got a basic knowledge, but I still need to learn many things in this area. I went through our site and understood that it sucks from SEO point of view. Not in all aspects, but there a lot of work needed to be done to improve it: better meta data, rich snippets, better and shorter meta titles, canonical links and so on. I'm working on the list of improvements for 4devs and then will apply them one by one.
That month was an interesting one. I learnt new things about SEO, did a lot of pull ups and now I feel better, like I have more energy. Also I had a good time in Alushta and saved a lot of time avoiding TV (spent that time with friends). Now I plan to continue the experiment and form a new list of things that I want to add/remove for a month. If you still think to be or not to be, just give it a try and you will like it.