Productivity ABC: A

Automation

Gears

© 2011 foxbit – sxc.hu

Automation can be very profitable when it comes to boosting productivity. Not only because you don’t have to do an action manually, but there are other productivity gains.

Eliminating the possibility of human error is one of them. Automation is especially useful for repetitive tasks. Tasks which are more often than not boring as waiting for grass to grow.
Waiting, or being bored decreases focus and causes the need for distraction. And losing focus on the task at hand is the worst thing that can happen to your productivity.

There are a lot of tools that can help you with automating different type of tasks. As a software developer i usually make small scripts for tasks i need to automate. Therefore i don’t use many automation tools. However, if you have suggestions for productivity tools, please leave a comment!
Some of my favourite automation languages: PHP & shell.

Attention span

Oh look, a butterfly!

Distraction: “Oh look, a butterfly!” – © 2012 irum – sxc.hu

Try to find out what your average attention span is, and always take a short break after that period.
It doesn’t have to be a long break. Just grab a coffee, stretch, do a small (but different) task, or anything like that. You need this to re-focus on the task. If you start on the original task again, work while your attention span lasts, and then take a break again to refocus after that.

It may sound that you will lose a lot of time because of all the breaks, but this is not true. (if your breaks are short enough, hehe).
Working longer on a task longer than your full attention lasts will result in working less efficient, and what you do is possibly more prone to errors. So taking a break every now and then will most likely boost your productivity.

Finding out how long your attention span lasts can be quite a challenge. It might be good to know that the maximum attention span lies somewhere between 3 minutes (young children) and 20 minutes (adults).
The easiest way to find your attention span is to start a stopwatch, and start working on the task you want to complete. Stop the stopwatch and remember what time is on the stopwatch. Reset and start the stopwatch and continue on the task. Do this a couple of times and you’ve found your average attention span.

For more information on attention span visit Wikipedia.