Lev Kravinsky on procrastination and staying productive

lev

Please welcome Lev Kravinsky to the RescueTime blog! Lev is a software engineer whose current project is Everydev, “A job board built on inclusivity and individuality, featuring companies that care.”

Can you tell us what you do, and what your typical workday looks like?

Right now, I split my time between building products and freelancing. My typical work day is usually spent about half writing code at my desk (or in a coffeeshop) and half doing marketing, sales, copy, and all other sorts of tasks that are not quite as interesting to me as software.

Do you have a morning routine as part of waking up or starting your workday? What does your routine consist of?

My morning routine varies, but on an ideal day, I wake up around 7:30am, eat breakfast, go to the gym for an hour, shower, and then get ready to work. In reality, I often am too tired to go to the gym and just waste time on my phone in my bed, but I’m trying to cut back on that.

What’s the first thing you normally do when you start work/arrive at your office/desk?

The first thing I do when I go to my desk is check my email and Slack, browse HackerNews and ProductHunt for anything interesting to check out, and look at traffic or revenue analytics. Then, I create a daily to-do list of what I believe I can/should accomplish today.

lev-workspace

What’s your favorite thing about your daily workspace?

My favorite thing about my workspace is my monitor – I absolutely love having a big screen.

What does a successful workday look like for you? How do you measure success on a day-to-day basis?

A successful workday for me involves pushing features to production, making product sales or landing clients, and having some time for myself to go to the gym, read, or watch a movie. I measure success by evaluating 3 things – how many of the tasks I said I would complete that I actually completed, how many sales/clients I landed, and how happy/fulfilled I am (this is the most important one).

What’s your biggest productivity struggle? How do you deal with that?

My biggest productivity struggle is probably procrastination – I often have the urge to just zone out and watch Netflix or order food when I should be doing something productive that I don’t want to do.

How does RescueTime fit into your workday?

RescueTime is something that I don’t use every day, because obsessing over time too much stresses me out. I use it more retrospectively to look back on a week or a month. From that viewpoint, I can see if I was productive or not, and make adjustments for next month accordingly.

How do you plan for mid-term and long-term work? Do you set goals, conduct regular reviews, or do other planning for big projects?

For mid and long term work, I use project planning boards like Trello or Waffle and Google Docs.

What are the most important tools, apps, tricks, or techniques that help you stay focused and productive during the workday?

One of the most important tricks for me that keeps me productive is to use the Pomorodo timer technique, where I spend 25 minutes working and then take a 5 minute break. I often have the urge to work through the break, especially when I feel like I’m being very productive, but I almost always am better off if I just take the break.

What are you working on right now (or coming up) that you’re most excited about?

Right now, I’m working on launching Everydev, a job board that features inclusive companies. I’m really excited about this and can’t wait to see what people think. You can check it out here, at everydev.io.

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Kyrill Potapov on how to maintain work/life balance and stay productive

kyrill

Can you tell us what you do, and what your typical workday looks like?

I’m an English teacher and Human-Computer Interaction researcher, so half the time I’m planning and delivering lessons and marking work; the other half of the time I’m reading articles and writing up my PhD thesis.

Do you have a morning routine as part of waking up or starting your workday? What does your routine consist of?

I’m not sure if this is safe or even legal but I always listen to an audiobook as I cycle into work.

What’s the first thing you normally do when you start work/arrive at your office/desk?

I set a focus for the day on the Momentum Chrome extension. This is the one thing I will be unhappy if I go to bed without doing.

What’s your favorite thing about your daily workspace?

That I have several work spaces (my room, my classroom, my university desk) which I can assign different types of work.

kyrill's workspace

Editors note: moving between workspaces could boost your productivity by “location boxing” different activities.

What does a successful workday look like for you? How do you measure success on a day-to-day basis?

I’m very susceptible to the Zeigarnik effect: unfinished tasks wear away at my self-esteem, so I prefer to do long stints on one task at a time. This is in contrast to the days on which I get caught up in small tasks that don’t relate to my bigger aims or fall down a social media hole.

Do you have any go-to approaches for resetting a bad day and getting back on track?

Changing my physical state: going to the gym. I used to rely on stimulants but when I measured their impact, they didn’t actually add up to more productivity overall. Now I prefer to try to keep things flat through a low carb diet etc.

Stimulants and external punishments are fine for one-off tasks like end-of-unit essays, but for longer projects it isn’t sustainable. As my RescueTime dashboard would show, stimulants got me revved up to send a load of emails and sort through my materials but they also prevented me from settling into the kind of contemplation I need to write. It’s like the Hemingway thing: write drunk; edit sober. The monthly report on RescueTime helped me to reflect on what was worthwhile in the long-term.

kyrill's monthly RescueTime report

Kyrill’s monthly RescueTime report

What’s your biggest productivity struggle? How do you deal with that?

Procrastination. I have to juggle so many things that juggling many bits of information at the same time and reading random things feels important and it’s hard to recognise when I’m time wasting.

Can you tell us about how you’ve been using RescueTime in your classroom, and what you’ve discovered from this process?

It’s interesting to see the lengths students will go to to lie to themselves. I would never look at a students’ data but many students are reluctant to even look at their own data because of the unpleasant feelings associated with realising the extent of their intention-behaviour gap. RescueTime works like a meditation mantra for the wandering mind: notice that you’re wandering and refocus on the task at hand. You had 17% productive time today? OK, just start again tomorrow.

You mentioned you’re working on a MOOC about RescueTime—can you share more about that?

Quantified Self tools assume that data is significant and intuitive to the user – this is often not the case. My MOOC is about setting goals and reshaping them as a result of reflection on the reality. RescueTime provides the reality.

How do you maintain work/life balance? What do you do to recharge when you’re not working?

I use IFTTT with RescueTime to block Facebook and Twitter when I’m not at my desk at home. I have two separate Chrome accounts: one for work, one for leisure. I have a daily meditation practice using the Muse band. I used to fine myself for not meditating through Beeminder and RescueTime but this did not prove a useful strategy. I also read a lot of fiction, naturally.

What’s the best improvement you’ve made to how you work, or a change you’ve made that you wish you’d done earlier?

Having my week visually laid out on Trello so that I’m not constantly running through which lessons I haven’t planned.

Are there any workday habits you admire in others but haven’t been able to adopt yourself?

Digital Sabbaths. I’ve tried not using technology on a Saturday and it really does feel like a cleansing process but I always slip.

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