Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

An Unconventional Approach to Jumpstarting Your Productivity

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Vincent Nguyen, a full-time college student and passionate blogger. When he’s not distracted, he’s writing practical life advice at Self Stairway. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Productivity is a lost art. Day after day, it’s a conversation with yourself that begins with, “I should get started on X, but…”

And then come the excuses.

Slap face

Photo Credit: Vermin Inc via Compfight cc

It’s too easy to get distracted. Why be productive when I could be surfing or shopping, doing anything but working?

Maybe what we need is a way to disrupt our distractions.

The temptations

I was on vacation in California for a month and a half when something terrible happened: I stopped writing.

Naturally, I’d become too comfortable and distracted. Everywhere I looked, there were a million reasons to not write. How could I resist the beautiful sun and relaxing beaches? The delicious food?

I began to go days without touching the keyboard.

Of course, I loved writing; it’s been part of my daily routine for years. I just didn’t want it to feel like a chore. I had to find a new way to kick myself into high gear.

So I decided to try something unconventional.

The alternative

I took an idea from Maneesh Sethi, an entrepreneur, author of four books, and world traveler.

He increased his productivity by hiring someone on Craigslist to slap him every time he went off-task. This experiment was covered by The Huffington Post, Mashable, MSN, and several more well-known websites.

It wasn’t just a publicity stunt.

Maneesh claims his productivity level was at 98% during the slap experiment (he tracked all of this,) a lot higher than his usual 35-40% on most days. He even said his quality of work improved.

The idea behind this was that the fear of being slapped would keep him on task and make his work environment more fun. Of course, it always helps to have a second pair of eyes going over your work, too.

I had to get in on this, so I enlisted the help of a friend.

The job

We headed to local coffee shop and sat down for two hours of work.

I paid him eight dollars per hour, so not only was it fear of being physically harmed that motivated me but I had to get my money’s worth. It also helped that I could bounce ideas off him when needed — he even gave great direction for an article I was working on.

The only rule was I wasn’t allowed to go on Facebook, Reddit, Feedly, or anything else not related to writing. I managed to stay slap-free with the bonus of completing several articles.

The fear of the slap worked.

The cost of this experiment came out at around $20, because I had bought myself a drink plus the $16 I paid my friend. That’s not bad, considering the work I got done was worth around $105, work I wouldn’t have finished had I not spent the $20.

The aftereffects

The best part is that even after the experiment ended, my productivity continued.

On vacation, I had a taste of what it felt like to be truly productive, and it hasn’t slowed down since. Even today, months after the experience, my productivity level has been consistent.

I’m back to writing every day.

The beauty of this kind of experiment is it can be very laid back if you’re casual about it. It sure beats working alone or being distracted by a friend who sits there without contributing anything.

If you feel like you’re losing the consistency of a daily habit, try using unconventional methods. You may end up being the most productive you’ve been in months and having a great time in the process.

What weird ways have you gotten back on track with your habits? Share in the comments.

About Vincent Nguyen

Vincent is a full-time college student and passionate blogger. When he’s not distracted, he's writing practical life advice at Self Stairway. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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