The Ultimate Productivity Tool Few People Have the Guts to Use
My last couple of weeks weren’t the most productive. And no wonder, stuck at home with all the perils and pitfalls it so readily provides, I succumbed to binge-watching Netflix, followed by what can be described as inhaling anime — when your goal for the day is to watch 30 episodes, inhaling sounds about right.
As it turns out, fulfilment and entertainment are two different things. The former ensues when you feel you’ve done something meaningful with your day. The latter results after watching 5 seconds of video.
The problem is that the effects of fulfilment are delayed, whereas the ones of the entertainment are immediate.
Given the opportunity to do so, we all gravitate towards the easier, immediate choice. Usually, we have countermeasures in place to avoid that — going to work, university, library, or cafes. Now that those are taken away, it’s the easier choice all the way, baby.
A week ago I got sick of this state of events and decided to do something against it — I wrote an accountability contract and have it signed off by my girlfriend. Since then, I saw my productivity rise again.
I have an inkling as to why it works. Let me guide you through the process.
- First, you identify the problem. For me, watching entertaining videos was the biggest issue.
- Second, specify all the sources of the problem(Netflix, YouTube, Anime sites). You want to do this because you’ll want to squirm out the first chance you get. Being too vague won’t do you any good.
- Third, set conditions for what’s allowed and what isn’t. For me, it was one hour a day (two over the weekend), measured by a timer. Throw yourself a bone by allowing a smidge of the former behavior to make the transition easier. Going cold turkey is also an option.
- Fourth, have a punishment for failing. If I go over the limit of one (two) hours, I have to pay 10 $ to the shared bank account with my girlfriend. Also, specify what the money is for: in my case, it’s date money. But you can also motivate yourself by having to pay money to something you hate.
- Fifth, specify how long the contract will be valid for. I went for one month at first, upon which I can renegotiate again.
- Sixth and the last — sign the contract (and have it signed by your accountability buddy). This gives it a flair of authority and responsibility.
The contract works on a trust basis: I’m the one responsible for compliance and making sure I’m on track. And funny enough, it works. This is kind of remarkable, if you think about it, given that nothing else besides that one piece of paper on my wall has changed.
Given the results of this experiment, I encourage you to set up your own contract as well. It takes a couple of minutes and has the potential to rescue hours of your time.
Is it the best thing since sliced bread? Maybe.