Productivity 101 — Motius’ approach to more productivity (PART 2)
In this blog post series, we show you some insights into the Motius way of being more productive. Not to write a general “How to be more productive”-guide but to find out more about our own employees and our company culture.
What happened in Part 1:
In the first article of this series, we summarized our basic understanding of productivity. And how we learned to prioritize and to avoid the risk of just doing things to get the feeling of being busy. We also looked into the first Method and the basics of getting things done. Check it out here.
Method ll: Wait for your Panic Monster
Probably a lot of people would say that this method isn’t even a real method — it’s just procrastinating and doing things last minute. Well, in his famous TED Talk, Tim Urban explains the mind of a master procrastinator.
The life of a procrastinator is simple: he sets out to be productive, gets distracted by his instant gratification monkey (this inner self who only cares about maximizing the ease of the current moment), is eventually chased by his inner Panic Monster, then focuses on the tasks because he is afraid of the deadline and finally finishes his task just in time. Urban even illustrated the whole process on his website waitbutwhy.com:
To be honest, although this method sounds funny, it definitely happens from time to time. But the question is if it actually is desirable. And seriously, we don’t know that. Thing is that procrastinators usually get their tasks done after all and basically that’s what matters. One could suspect that their work could be of higher quality if they didn’t procrastinate as much. But at the same time, we all know that most of us perform really well under time pressure.
Luckily, there is another way to somehow really make sense of this approach and call it a method. That is by using your procrastination time in a more meaningful way. You wanna know how this works? Well, for this we need to have a look at the book “The Art of Procrastination” by John Perry.
In his book, Perry explains how to prioritize your massive list of to-dos based on urgency and importance. Your focus should be on the important to-dos. In the Eisenhower Matrix (see picture below), these are in quadrant one and two. Problem is that your inner Panic Monster will automatically focus only on urgent tasks while some of them might be unimportant (so you’re in quadrant 1 and 3). How do you make sure that you focus on important tasks only? You use the Eisenhower Matrix and procrastinate indirectly, meaning you do non-urgent things that are important to you. In the Matrix, these are in quadrant number two. This is the ultimate way to feel good about your work, probably even feel productive and (hopefully) finish your urgent tasks last minute. Before heading to our third approach, let’s have a look at a brief example.
It’s Thursday morning and you’re checking your to-dos for the rest of the week. You notice that there’s a presentation deadline coming for you. It’s a project pitch at your customer’s office and you really should do a good job on this cause you wanna sign the customer. But at the same time, it’s a presentation and doing presentations is not your favourite thing to do. Besides this deadline, you notice that you have some interesting projects in your backlog, including this really cool product development task that you would love to do. Further, you could also repair the coffee machine which definitely is urgent.
At this point, you’re stuck in a dilemma: Should you focus on the coffee machine or the product development task? Remembering the Eisenhower Matrix you notice that repairing the coffee machine is something less important for your work (delegate it!). This way, you can focus on the product development task, even though it is not urgent yet. You’ll be glad that you did that, it’s important and you’ll need it later. At the end of the day, you feel good and productive about it. On Friday morning, you remember the presentation deadline. You check your work progress and notice that you haven’t even made a draft yet. This is when the Panic Monster kicks in. Suddenly, you feel an extreme urgency to finish the presentation and you focus intensively. At the end of the day, you manage to finish the presentation and send it to your potential customer — what a relieve. Today, you can feel good about yourself cause you were productive and did all the important stuff.
Again, this approach does not appear desirable to many people but in the aftermath, it is exactly what a lot of people do. It definitely doesn’t mean that people are lazy. They might even get as much done as everyone else, they just do it differently.
We definitely don’t recommend to just sit around, waiting for your panic monster to kick in. But if you really wanna do that though, stick to the Eisenhower Matrix. This way, you’ll at least still get the important things done. Theoretically, this would be the right time to start kicking off a discussion about work ethics or something like that. But we’re not gonna do that — especially with all of you internet trolls out there. We’re just here for real talk.
Real talk is a keyword that actually leads us directly to our third popular method. This time, we will be talking a bit more about time management. Above all, this method is about focusing on things that really matter.
Find out what suits you best
When it comes to productivity approaches, there are numerous ideas, concepts, frameworks, etc. Definitely, it is a good idea to take some time, inform yourself and consider which ones might suit you best. But in the end, it all comes down to trying.
It’s on you to put in the (productive) work of finding an approach that works for you. Based on our experience, that can take a while. You might experience some setbacks, get frustrated or simply can’t decide which one to try first. But don’t worry about it, just keep going. Put in the effort every day and eventually, you’ll find an approach that works for you. If you wanna talk to us about this topic in person or if you have any approaches that are worth a try, comment on this blog post or just contact us! We would love to hear your ideas!