How to Increase Productivity in the Middle of Chaos

And there comes the first rays of the sun. It’s another day in the world called CHAOS, and you already wake up with an imaginary list in your head full of tasks to complete. Before you even leave the house, you imagine yourself doing at least 80% of it.

Everything seems to be heading towards a peaceful day.

Here comes the traffic, unforeseen events, unread emails, spam, cell phones and applications , and the boss who asks for a helping hand right when you had concentrated. To top it off, your cell phone looks like “popcorn in the pan”, begging for your attention. Your friends liked your photo on Instagram, someone sent you an inbox on Facebook and the family group keeps saying good morning until the last uncle responds.

The truth is that the world cares little for your to-do list.

Today, we are literally 24 hours connected and accessible. A survey by Deloitte consultancy showed that, in 2015, the Brazilian checked his cell phone 78 times , on average, per day. And, in the place we affectionately call the “work environment”, we are interrupted approximately once every 11 minutes.

To worsen this threatening scenario to productivity, there is the internal chaos that each person carries.

The human being processes more than 4,000 thoughts PER DAY! It is almost one every 14 seconds. Looking at all this, you can understand why we are going through a productivity crisis. We don’t feel as productive as we should / could be. The truth is that we have been stuck in a chaos environment and are demanding supernatural productivity.

Productive potential remains, but time and focus are lacking. How to get out of this paradox? How to increase productivity?

The best advice I can give is: don’t be too hard on yourself.

Understand how you work and always try to operate at your best performance, without forcing the car’s engine. Especially if you are on muddy ground. Accelerating madly, in this case, will only waste fuel and bog you down once and for all.

There are many scholars looking at the Individual Productive Potential and doing the dirty work to hack that subject. Of all, what I like most is the nice Mr. Mihaly , take a look at his TED talking about Flow .

This enlightened being was fascinated by the skill of musicians, painters, artists and even airline pilots, who can spend hours doing the same activity without even feeling hungry, wanting to go to the bathroom or get bored.

Mihaly studied this phenomenon in depth and found that we all have this ability, which he called FLOW . Some enter FLOW more easily than others.

For example, I eat good ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), I have a lot of difficulty creating a total immersion in some activity that I do, due to my lack of attention and hyperactive mind / body. Being very simple and straightforward, Mihaly found that the state of Flow is achieved in a relationship between skill x challenge. It has to do with how much such an activity challenges us to use our skills.

The secret of flow is to find the ideal tension between these two variables. It cannot be more challenging than our ability is capable of, nor too trivial to the point that it does not require skills.

Today’s games are great at putting us in the state of FLOW . When you are playing in Easy Mode , you find the game boring and silly. When you play on Hard, you just get angry and give up for not being able to pass the level. You need to find the ideal difficulty level to play. That challenges you but allows you to move forward. And when you find it, you can be sure that you will know, as you will spend hours playing that game, instinctively blocking any distractions. It is the magic of Productivity. (Yes! Playing games can be productive)

I like to think that the state of FLOW is a place within us. A space where we find our inner peace and no one else can enter, only ourselves.

You just need to find the key and open the door.

I venture to say that you even entered that place in you, but you didn’t even realize it. You must have already encountered some activity that you have been doing for hours, without realizing the time passes, the hunger arrives or the cell phone beeps. It’s like those door tags in the hotel with the message “Don’t disturb”. You are trapped inside and the whole world is waiting outside.

Beauty so far, but there is another paradox that haunts us. As a designer , I need to keep my mind active, connected, multi-diversified to be creative in solving my clients’ problems. And for that, CHAOS is great. But the big transformation I went through was when I learned to let even creative CHAOS out of the FLOW room when it came to being productive. It’s difficult! He knocks on the door all the time, meows, scratches, cries and appeals to the emotional, so that you give in. But it’s necessary.

After I started attending several models of “work environment” in this life of traveling freelancer, I finally managed to exteriorize my FLOW room and project it in any physical place . There were several rooms, offices, coworking , offices, meeting rooms and even public parks that I started to decorate with my FLOW room .

Just like the decoration of a house, this interior space has to be our face. It has to be decorated by you; have your belongings spread out.

Do you want to know mine? – Okay, I’ll tell you a few items you can find in my room:

  • Playlists played on a good earphone

I finger-select (or listen to) the songs that give rhythm to my focus on the activity. They are usually songs with lyrics that I don’t know, or just instrumental. These songs, played on an acoustic isolation phone, practically take me out of reality. It is the isolation from the outside world that I need and also the soundtrack to calm the internal CHAOS . The brain seems to know that it is time to close the rattle and save the ideas for another time.

  • A cellphone turned off

It is a very rare item. We practically did not find cell phones out there. But in my FLOW room there is. It stays there with the paper weight function to prevent the sheets and post-it’s from flying. He’s great at that.

  • Confortable clothes:

It sounds silly, but you know that urge to be naked at home when you are alone? (Don’t you know? – Neither do I). It’s like that! The human being was not made to wear clothes.

We wear clothes for two reasons: expressing our identities and covering the body. Inside the FLOW Room, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, so dress the way you feel most comfortable, damn the rest of the world (this sometimes means going in pajamas for  Coworking ).

  • Coffee in the right mug:

Manias, everyone has it. I traded my Red Bull and cigarette addictions for an awesome thermal cup and a good Coffee time . I choose the right coffee, and stuff. It is just another item in the decoration of the room, but it helps me a lot to feel the delicious feeling of being at home. There must be some scientific explanation that proves the power of coffee to give you comfort with each sip.

  • Specific time of day:

Yes, I have my hours when I am most productive. It is usually at dawn, especially after a good nap. So I got into the habit of sleeping between 6:00 pm and midnight, to stay up at dawn. So I stay awake when half the world is asleep.

It is important to know the time you perform best and respect this, as it is almost 100% biological.

I think we produce a lot for a post, don’t we?

I will leave other points and reflections for an upcoming conversation. If you thought it was cool, I love talking about it. My social networks and forms of contact are always open for us to continue this conversation. Just come and say hi. The contact will probably make my cell phone pop up and at the right time I will have the greatest pleasure of interacting.