How I increased my productivity 1.5x by experimenting with my work schedule

How I increased my productivity 1.5x by experimenting with my work schedule

Wednesday July 15, 2015,

4 min Read

It may sound unpractical, but it's true. Earlier I’d work 12 hours a day, and my productivity was average. Now I work for 8 hours a day, and my productivity is 1.5 times more than before.

I left my job last year to work full time on my startup. I worked harder than ever and dedicated all my time to building our product and marketing it online. Sometimes, I would work continuously for 4-5 hours. Slowly I realized that my productivity was not increasing proportionally to my increased working time.

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I experimented a lot with my time in the last one year.

#1 Experiment – Pick up work and finish it

My first startup was a total mess, and unorganized. I was working on design, product architecture, and online marketing. There was so much to learn about startups. So I would pick the most terrifying, imposing task and subsequently spend hours and hours on it, until it was finished.

I remember that I finished product deployment on AWS in just three days, without any clue about cloud computing. I spent about 12-14 hours daily in order to accomplish the AWS task.

This experiment looked like it was working, but it delayed other important tasks like design and marketing. I realized that AWS deployment was not worth spending 36-40 hours on. I don’t know how much time I spent actually working on AWS, consideringI was worrying about design and marketing the whole time.

#2 Experiment – Time segmentation for each task category

My next experiment was to allocate a time window for each category. I divided my day into three segments, and decided to work on one type of task in each segment.

In the morning, I was a designer, spending 3-4 hours on creating UI/UX. In the afternoon, I was a tech architect, learning and implementing technology, occasionally coding and fixing defects. In the late evening, I was a digital marketer, promoting our product online.

This experiment improved my overall productivity and allocated equivalent bandwidth to all my work. But I was still spending 12-14 hours daily in front of the computer. I found myself wasting time on unnecessary websites & phone calls. I had to optimize my sitting time.

#3 Experiment - Reduce computer screen time

I loved this experiment. The idea was simple, do not sit in front of the computer if you don’t know what to do. Put you system to sleep and plan what to do for the day. Pick one task that needs the computer, complete the task and put your system back to sleep.

I reduced my time on social media, e-commerce websites, and unfocused reading. I saved 2-3 hours each day, that I started utilizing on offline activities like playing with my kid, household work andreading books. I found myself more energetic and effective in doing online work.

#4 Experiment – Become early riser & short work sitting

I have never been an early riser in life. Even in my school days, I’d do my work till late at night. I never woke up early, not even on exam days. I had continued working till late night, and that was having adverse effects on my health, sleep, and mind. I was occasionally distracted by my family because I was working from home.

The solution was to wake up early and finish the most important work before my kid woke up. At the same time, I shortened my sitting time to 90 minutes to 120 minutes. I started taking breaks of 60 minute to 90 minutes in between each sitting. This schedule increased my productivity significantly, and I reduced my working time.

Below is my working schedule for your reference.

6:00 AM - Wake up

6:30 – 8:30 – Focused work (Writing)

8:30 – 10:00 – Yoga, Breakfast, Bath

10:00 – 11:30 – Focused work

11:30 – 1:00 – Break

1:00 – 2:30 – Focused work

2:30 – 3:30 – Break

3:30 – 5:30 – Focused work

5:30 – 8:00 – Family time and phone calls

8:00 – 10:00 – Unallocated Buffer time

10:00 PM - Sleep

My computer screen time is maximum 7-8 hours and family time is minimum 3 hours.

I am still experimenting with my time schedule. I feel there is still scope for improvement. I would love to know how you are improving your productivity.