Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

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TopHatFox
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Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by TopHatFox »

Relevant to the work ethic thread, what are the best productivity boosting furniture pieces/computers/tactics? Thus far, the ones I found that change the game for me are:

1. Having 3 monitors side by side
2. A SAD light lamp for natural sunlight
3. Caffeine pills (100 mg, real coffee stains teeth :D)
4. A convertible standing desk, but ideally a treadmill desk
5. Smart casual clothes like chinos & a soft-wash button-up instead of suits (no dry-cleaning)
6. Living within walking distance of work, or a 1-3 mile electric-kick scooter ride away
7. A slow-cooker, salad shredder, and minimal cooking equipment
8. Automating all bills, investments, and other personal documentation
9. Live in a room or apartment; minimizes cleaning time
9. Running a paper-less office, with all work-related stuff being uploaded to a secure cloud like Sync
10. Pomodoro technique
11. An ergonomic office chair, a vertical mouse, and an ergonomic keyboard
12. An up-to-date computer with plenty of RAM and a fast processor. Fast internet.
13. Internet blockers. HUGE. No porn, reddit, youtube, random articles, social media, forums, etc.
14. Actually taking vacations (no work) and traveling during 3-day weekends
15. Having a gf, actually a pretty good motivator to work hard (whether it lasts or not)
16. Having control of temperature, hard to focus on work when too cold or hot
17. Probably enabling auto-sign in to the work software used everyday
18. Working at a public place where other people are doing work is a good motivator

What's been a productivity game-changer for you?

daylen
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by daylen »

TopHatFox wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:42 pm
1. Having 3 monitors side by side
Are you a day trader or something? Just use the switch workplace hotkey.

TopHatFox
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by TopHatFox »

Tried that, good for small stuff, demotivating for getting lots of work done quickly.

Seppia
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by Seppia »

good sleep is my #1, 2 and 3

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C40
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by C40 »

PSA - Taking 100mg caffeine pills is something you should totally not be doing regularly. Only on rare occasions.
  • Ambient music of your liking. Certain soundtracks from certain movies (and in particular extended/repeat mixes of individual songs) may work very well for you. Lately I've been listening to remixes of songs from the recent Blade Runner. Like this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0Hyxq7iOwI

    There are various genres of ambient music you can explore, and once you find some types you enjoy, it's easy to get/listen a lot of it for free.
  • Not using any screens an hour before bedtime. Of it you do, use a strong red color cast on your device/computer. Some phone OSs have this built in now, or there are apps. On my computer I use F.lux. Its better to just not use them though. Also limit light in that last hour or two. For some time I had a small lamp and I'd put a red T-shirt over it so the only light coming out was very red. It's easy on your eyes and helps them relax, and likely helps with sleeping patterns and deep sleep
Last edited by C40 on Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:29 am, edited 3 times in total.

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C40
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by C40 »

If you're working in an office where people interrupt you more than you'd like for un-needed reasons, wear big headphones (even if you have no music playing)

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by Dream of Freedom »

The classic response is the Pareto principle. Find the 20% of activities which are the most productive and do more of those. Find the 20% of activities which are the biggest waste of time and do less of those.

Know your priorities and ask your boss what her priorities are for your job.

Find the bottlenecks (a situation that causes delay in a process or system) and try to speed that up. So if you can't do x until y is complete and y is slow the process will be slow.

I would also recommend the book Getting Things Done
by David Allen. It is a horribly boring book but worth it.

Scott 2
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by Scott 2 »

^^^ This, way more important than the tactical stuff

Smashter
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by Smashter »

TopHatFox wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:42 pm
A SAD light lamp for natural sunlight
Bright light makes a big difference for me, too. I recently decided to string like 50 LED's from the ceiling of my home office and I love it so much. These are the instructions I followed. This setup is way brighter than the best SAD light light on the market, and cheaper. It's part of how Eliezer Yudkowsky's wife beat her seasonal affective disorder.  

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Ego
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by Ego »

I've found that most of the important shit that needs to get done is best done by simply doing it. Analyzing the optimal monitor height or formulating the ultimate anti-distraction habits are usually nothing more than distractions from doing.

I'm not necessarily against looking for productivity boosting tricks and tools. I just find it more productive to look for examples of people who can get shit done in the most challenging circumstances. They help me broaden my perspective on what is good enough.

I look for the guy who can sleep soundly in the web seats of a C130 Hercules or the woman who can concentrate on her night school textbook while riding a chaotic subway or the girl who can get her homework done while curled up in the corner of the single room home she shares with her whole family. They rejigger the stories I tell myself about the challenges I face.

The quest for optimum has the potential to turn into an excuse factory.

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C40
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by C40 »

@Dream of Freedom is dead on.

At both work and for personal life - the most important "productivity boost" is to do the most important/beneficial things - and - to find out what things you can simply not do.

There is a bit of an art and of risk management when it comes to learning what is ok not to do. Often, if you ask, the answer is that you must do everything. But some things are not important. The most effective method is to just not do some things and see what happens. But to do it that way, you need a good reputation, tact, ability to read the situation, etc.


Another HUGELY important skill for work is communication with your boss. I've advised my friends and family so many times about this when they complain about having a lot of work. The main point I try to make to them is that it is your own responsibility to manage your workload NOT (just) your boss. YOU need to learn how much you can do, and YOU need to communicate this stuff with your boss. The most basic/common statement I can make about how to do this is: when your boss tells you to do something, especially when you are otherwise busy, you need to tell them things like:
1 - Ok, here's how much work that is. While continuing all my other current workload, here's when I think I can have it done by

2 - If you need it sooner, here are some ways I can accomplish that:
2a - Not doing these other things (or just show them a list of your work items and ask them for prioritization)
2aa - sometimes when your boss tells you to put off other tasks that you do for other people, it is useful/needed to ask your boss to let those people know there will be delays.
2b - Getting [such and such specific] help from other people
2c - Flex time - or only temporary high workload. Don't ever allow yourself to make a habit of working long hours unless it truly is a short term workload, and ideally if you will also work less in the future because of it. If you work too much, it is YOUR fault. You are the one responsible for your working hours.

3 - Give your boss updates on your progress. If you're getting behind schedule, tell your boss as soon as you know, and if needed do things in step 2 again.

By being a good and realistic manager of your own working time and workload, you make your bosses job much easier. It might seem like always saying yes and just trying hard to get things done is being a good employee, but that is not true. Your boss needs to manage the work being completed, not just to be said yes to. When you give him realistic timeline estimates, updates, and fulfill them, it makes your boss successful. It also makes it clear that you could be promoted and manage other people.



After I had advised my mom on the above things, and had shared with her examples of what I did over my years of working, she read the book: "Essentialism" and said that it is about exactly what I'm talking about here, and that it is very good.

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Stahlmann
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by Stahlmann »

no technology/no internet
or
http://www.pluckeye.net

oldbeyond
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by oldbeyond »

For me:


Hardware:
- Dual monitors. Creation on one, references/communication on the other. I've experimented with this and the difference in productivity is quite large for me.
- Extra chair by my desk so that colleagues can sit down with me to solve a problem, instead of confused communication on email/IM.

Software/behaviors:
- Keeping notes in something like OneNote or Evernote. Very valuable to have somewhere to empty your head for different projects.
- Keeping folders in your email app for different projects and instantly deleting, flagging or moving emails as they come in. This makes me quite a bit more productive and reduces stress by a lot
- Putting all relevant deadlines/events etc in a calendar app. Reduces stress, avoids embarrassment and makes it possible to make plans.
- Keeping a todo-list and starting out my day by prioritizing it. Can't say I'm perfect in always following through on this, but it's a massive improvement from "let's blindly work very, very hard"

bostonimproper
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by bostonimproper »

Tactics:
- Adequate sleep
- Maintain inbox zero
- Keep everything in a calendar or to do list
- Always take notes
- Hide out in a conference room or other quiet space away from the open office to do deep work
- Just do the work

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Sclass
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by Sclass »

I’ve been using my multiple monitor setup to learn cad during the shutdown. It’s really useful to have a YouTube video, a pdf document reader and two (data/control + graphics) for the CAD software I’m running simultaneously. I had idled the set for a year because I was no longer monitoring my mom’s nanny cams. I felt like a security guard for a few years there.

It’s a great learning tool now. It’s like looking up and seeing the instructor then looking back down and trying things on my screen real-time. Monitors are so cheap now you might as well if you have some desk space. I think the articulated racks cost more than the screens. I need to probably make one from wood because my old one (dug from trash) won’t take more than a 20” monitor.

Now that I no longer live in silicon valley I cannot find one on my daily walk behind server farms. I literally dug new server racks, drawers and monitor stands from dumpsters around Great America pkwy and 101 during breaks. All of the stuff was branded Dell, Lenovo, HP etc. and obviously came with systems that guys were breaking down and setting up differently. The racks became trash on day one.

During this shutdown I’ve been doing a lot of video conferencing with my setup. The nice thing is if I have some boring parent or aunt droning on about stories I’ve heard a dozen times already on one screen and right next to that I have Netflix or Prime running with subtitles at 2x speed. I position my webcam/window so it looks like I’m paying attention to them. My cousin actually called me and thanked me for paying so much attention to his mom. :lol: I just have to avoid comedies because I have the tendency to burst into laughter uncontrollably at the wrong times.

I was also impressed with the results of some system maintenance. Over the years I’d picked up a lot of bloatware that checked back to various servers for updates and data. Utilities for utilities I stopped using. I had no idea these were sucking disk I/o and network bandwidth. Erasure and defragmentation really sped the old machine up. I was able postpone buying new hardware.

As for optimizations I try to focus on repetitive things I do a lot. It’s kind of like a capital investment on manufacturing equipment. Pareto as somebody else mentioned already. If you’re pissing away time on the same little task over and over it’s time to build a tool to perform the job more efficiently.

onewayfamily
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by onewayfamily »

I bought a pack of 50 soft (comfortable) earplugs a few years ago and am still working my way through them.
They save my ears from being damaged from loud screams from toddlers, and bring down the volume level when the 3 kids are awake and rowdy to a comfortable level for me.
I have them on ~50% of the time when the kids are around and they're one of my favourite possessions, despite probably only costing a few $.

If I'm trying to be productive I combine the earplugs with some over-ear noise-cancelling headphones and play natural rain sounds or white noise - this lets me be in my own little bubble and concentrate even if the kids are making a lot of noise around the house.

white belt
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by white belt »

I mostly agree with @DreamofFreedom and @C40.

I'm of the opinion that productivity is the result of having all of the other important stuff in your life together. Therefore, focusing on improving productivity is pointless unless you're improving the underlying lifestyle factors. In the ERE world we like to take a systems thinking approach and focus on strategy before tactics.

Here are the things that are most important (in no particular order):
-adequate sleep in line with circadian rhythms
-adequate diet in terms of quantity, macronutrients, and micronutrients
-adequate exercise to promote cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health
-nurturing social networks
-staying in touch with your own emotions/thoughts

Many people do not have those 5 foundational things taken care of, so fixing deficiencies in those areas will boost productivity more than any specific tactics focused just on productivity. However, if you are advanced (like I believe many on this forum are thanks to ERE web of goals thinking), here are some tactics that have worked for me if we're talking about specifically working on a computer in a typical office environment:

-I use a treadmill desk at home. At some point I may bring it to the office at work. I mostly got it because sitting in an office chair all day was interfering with other things in my web of goals. I enjoy it because it helps me to stay more alert and I can walk 2MPH while I'm doing most kinds of computer work.
-Multiple monitors are nice for many things, as others have said (I use my laptop and an external monitor).
-I've used noise muffling headphones at work ($30 3M pair) if I need to focus in a noisy environment. I agree with others that this also will make most people think twice before shoulder tapping you.


Other than that, I think tactics need to be tailored to the individual. Each person has their own set of things that makes it easier or harder for them to focus.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by AxelHeyst »

Recumbent desk/chair. Don't buy one, commercial models are all thousands of dollars. Go to a junk yard, pull a seat out of a Subaru or something, bolt the chair to a bit of plywood on casters. Then get some 2x4's, and create an angled desk surface with a split keyboard and a way to mount monitors facing down. (Don't screw this up, because those monitors are going to be suspended above your face...) I built mine for <$100.

Working in a recumbent desk setup is awesome once you get the position dialed. When getting up from a work session, I'd feel like I'd taken a nap - but I'd been alert the whole time.

zocab
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by zocab »

Ego wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:02 pm
I've found that most of the important shit that needs to get done is best done by simply doing it. Analyzing the optimal monitor height or formulating the ultimate anti-distraction habits are usually nothing more than distractions from doing.

I'm not necessarily against looking for productivity boosting tricks and tools. I just find it more productive to look for examples of people who can get shit done in the most challenging circumstances. They help me broaden my perspective on what is good enough.

I look for the guy who can sleep soundly in the web seats of a C130 Hercules or the woman who can concentrate on her night school textbook while riding a chaotic subway or the girl who can get her homework done while curled up in the corner of the single room home she shares with her whole family. They rejigger the stories I tell myself about the challenges I face.

The quest for optimum has the potential to turn into an excuse factory.
Excellent points here. I've actually done some of my best work while travelling on a train or a plane.

Where things like ergonomics and equipment becomes much more important is in avoiding injury in the long-term, not in maximising productivity short term. Things like having to block internet sites and so on are indicative of where the problem might lie - if you don't want to get your work done you don't want to get your work done. Minimising non-work time sinks (cooking/cleaning) etc. is missing the point: you don't get productive by maximising working time, you get productive by minimising working time. What you do with the rest of your life shouldn't have much relevance for your work efficiency.

And I say this as someone who does usually work with multiple monitors and a standing desk. They're nice, but I can be as productive with a laptop (although I'll complain much more in the latter situation).

Redo
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Re: Best Productivity Boosting Furniture/Computers/Tactics?

Post by Redo »

Have you seen Mr. Robot? I wrote a simple script that mimics the Whiterose beeping clock technique. Basically I get a vibration every minute letting me know a minute has passed. It keeps me focused, and lets me know how much time I'm wasting on Reddit, etc.

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