How To Increase Your Productivity With Workstation Popcorn
Workstation Popcorn is a fantastic technique for increasing your productivity, before we delve into the how and why of workstation popcorn let it be known that I didn't create this 'productivity hack' I first read about workstation popcorn on Joel Runyon's blog, ImpossibleHQ. You can read his original article here.
Now, whether you're a graphic designer, a freelance writer, a real estate agent or an office worker I'm sure you can agree that although you may spend a lot of time infront of your screen you're actually not getting a hell of a lot done.
I'm guilty of this.
I'll write up a big to-do list stating all of the tasks that I need to accomplish that day.
I tick off a few of them, dart between activities on the list and before I know it the day is gone.
I spent a significant amount of time doing 'fake work'.
Working but not really achieving much.
That's fake work.
Workstation Popcorn Eliminates Fake Work
I'm a big believer in the old fashioned to do list.
No apps, no software, no bullshit.
Each morning you should start the day by reviewing your hand written to do list, I like using a MoleSkine journal for this.
I list the important tasks I need to get done that day.
For a job or task to make it onto your to do list it must take more than 5 minutes to complete.
If it takes less than 5 minutes just do the job as soon as you think about it, no need to document it.
The #1 rule of to do lists that most people forget is that every item on your to do list must be measurable. There must be a number, an end goal. We must be able to say "Yep, that's done!" and tick it off.
Make A To Do List
Let's take a look at a bad to do list...
Bad To Do List Example
- Work on my blog
- Look at the stock market
- Do my cooking
- Work on new Kindle eBook
Good To Do List Example
- Do my chest & triceps workout
- Write 1,000 word blog post on Workstation Popcorn
- Research 4 Australian uranium stocks & add to my watch list
- Cook 4 days worth of chicken & broccoli
- Make & freeze 4 days worth of green juice
- Write 2 chapters of mental toughness Kindle eBook
- Read 3 chapters of Ryan Holiday's new book
See the difference? One of those lists is extremely vague, if I write 5 words in a new draft article I've technically 'worked on my blog' but that's bullshit.
Specifics are key. 1,000 words written on Workstation Popcorn (this article) is specific.
Now that we've got our good to do list here's where workstation popcorn comes into play.
Break Off Your To Do List Into Equal Sections
Now that we know what we've got to do it's time to divide those tasks into multiple sections (ideally 2 or 3).
When we're talking about 'equal sections' I'm talking about the amount of time required to complete the tasks.
Don't section off 3 tasks that take 15 minutes each into one group and 3 tasks that take an hour each into another group.
Keep it even.
Here's an example with my to do list from earlier...
- Write 1,000 word blog post on Workstation Popcorn (45 minutes)
- Research 4 Australian uranium stocks & add to my watch list (45 minutes)
Total time: 90 minutes
- Write 1 chapter of mental toughness Kindle eBook (120 minutes)
- Read 2 chapters of Ryan Holiday's new book (20 minutes)
Total time: 140 minutes
- Cook 4 days worth of chicken & broccoli (30 minutes)
- Make & freeze 4 days worth of green juice (30 minutes)
Total time: 60 minutes
Select A Location For Each Section
Now that you've got your 'batches' of tasks organized it's time to decide upon a different location for each section of tasks.
In my case that'll go as follows:
Section #1 - local coffee shop
Section #2 - Park
Section #3 - My kitchen
As each group of tasks has a timeline to go along with it I know roughly how long I'll be spending at each location which allows me to plan my timing and order of tasks accordingly.
After about an hour and a half at the coffee shop I know I should've worked my way through section #1 and will be ready to head to the park.
Not only is this a great way to keep yourself accountable but you'll also break up the day, get to spend more time outside getting vitamin D and enjoying some good coffee if you're into that!
There's no definitive location you have to use for your workstation popcorn tasks, I personally find alternating between parks (when I don't need wifi) and coffee shops (when I need wifi and caffeine).
"But SJ Isn't It Easier To Just Work From One Location???"
Provided you stay 100% hyper focused and get through all of your to do list items sure.
But like I mentioned earlier, we often resort to fake work.
Get outdoors, get around your city and take parts of your to do list with you.
Try workstation popcorn for a week and I guarantee you'll get more done and enjoy yourself more in the process too.