In May 2014, some blogger wrote about a strategy she uses to increase her kids’ productivity (and active time) and decrease the time they spend looking at glowing screens. She calls it the Momentum Optimization Project, and it’s basically a to-do list that her kids must complete before they can stare at their computers, play video games, watch TV, etc. She says, “If I start my day by sitting at the desk at, say, 5:00am, and digging in on actual work, I’ll keep going all day. If I start the day by, say, cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry or phaffing about on the interwebs, I’m in trouble.”
I can relate. (And so could a lot of other people–the post went viral.)

I don’t want this to seem like an anti-telecommuting post because it isn’t (AT ALL). Productivity is productivity, no matter where you are. Before I read Narrowback Slacker‘s post, I thought my productivity was a coin-toss: sometimes I’m more focused at the office, and sometimes I’m more focused at home, but there’s no telling until I’m there. But now that I think about it, my productivity depends more on how I start my day once I sit down in front my computer–regardless of whether my computer’s in my home office or my company’s office. If I jump right into something, I’m more likely to maintain focus until my energy sputters out (usually around 3pm, when my mind turns to jelly). If I decide to prioritize something else that’s not quite work (which, let’s face it, is usually “phaffing about on the interwebs”), my day is as good as over–or at least it’s really hard to work up the motivation to get to work.

Maybe a list is the way to go. Maybe before I’m allowed to scroll through my favorite blogs or my Facebook newsfeed, I have to do some maintenance on every contract I manage. Or start my day by cleaning up my to-do list and nudging people for things I’m waiting on. Every day.

They’re rules. Not guidelines.
More on incentives and motivation later. It will probably have something to do with ice cream.

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