Maneesh Sethi over at Hack The System was bothered by how much time he was wasting when he should have been working. So came up with a pretty genius way to solve the problem. He hired someone to look over his shoulder every now and then and smack him in the face if he was slacking off. Seriously.
Turns out, it quadrupled his productivity. Quadrupled.
While the threat of physical abuse made for a hilarious headline, Maneesh himself points out that the productivity boost likely came from the added social factor.
Honestly, the fear of the slap wasn’t the productivity driver. That just made it fun. The real reason why Kara made me more productive is because she added a social element to writing. When I was drafting the outline, I asked for her feedback. When I couldn’t think of the right way to phrase a sentence, she was there to help. Instead of it being a chore, Kara made it fun to write.
Working in a vacuum can suck. Adding another person into the mix can have huge benefits. Software engineers often do an activity called pair programming, which is effective not only because a second set of eyes can help spot mistakes, but also because it allows the engineers to bounce ideas back and forth to come up with the best solutions. Another example is coworking, which many self-employed people choose over working from home or coffee houses.