March 8, 2020
A Common Sense Guide to Productivity
Meet Barry Davret, writer, ghostwriter, and inventor of the experimenter's mindset.
Adrian: We've been seeing you everywhere at the moment Barry. You're a top writer in just about every tag on Medium now by the looks of it. One core theme seems to underpin your work, though - and that's productivity. Why do you think so many people struggle to remain productive in today's world?
Barry: I think it comes down to two reasons. For one, people fail to prioritise the one thing that’s most important. For me, it’s writing. That comes first. Only when I finish that do I check email or move onto other tasks. I wish there was something more profound but it’s really that simple.Second, from a tactical perspective, I advise people to give up “getting ready". We waste too much time preparing to do stuff and not enough time working on our priority. A year ago, I wrote a popular story, “The Silent Productivity Killer Nobody Talks About”. It was about a former mentor who drilled into me the importance of eliminating “getting ready” activities. Just do the work.
Adrian: That makes a lot of sense. A lot of creatives talk about getting into a state of 'flow'. What's your opinion on the significance of flow state when it comes to work? Does it exist at all, and if so, how can we tap into it?
Barry: I never think about flow. I’ll usually get into a good groove after ten minutes or so. Is that flow? I have no idea. A better use of mental energy is to just do your work. Focus on that rather than try and reach some abstract mental state.Perhaps what they call flow is just intense focus on the task at hand. If that’s the case, then I guess I reach it every day.
Adrian: You say you reach a state of flow every day. Do you have a particular way of doing this? If so, how would you advise a distracted person in developing that intense level of focus they crave?
Barry: I've developed a habit of starting my work as soon as I wake up. I don't do anything out of the ordinary, though I do put on Brain.fm "creativity" music while I work. I think it's the spartan routine of waking up and sitting down at the computer with no "getting ready" tasks that allows me to get into a rhythm almost immediately.
To a distracted person, I would recommend eliminating as much as possible from your work area and from the minutes leading up to your work session. Just start. No preparation. Try and work at the same time each day.
Adrian: Just start - I guess that's the key most people are missing, but really, it's no secret at all. In your article, 'The Silent Productivity Killer Nobody Talks About', you explain that time management isn't the answer. Do you think somedegree of time management is necessary for productivity, though? Say, having a properly managed morning routine, for example.
Barry: I guess it depends on how you define time management. If your focus is only on one thing, then there is no need to manage your time. All your effort goes to that task. Time Management, to me, matters if you’re juggling multiple priorities. I seek to limit my priorities so I don’t need to manage my time.