Get Organized for Better Productivity: Design a Productivity Ritual

Get Organized for Better Productivity: Have a Productivity Ritual For most of us the workday consists of 2 activity types:  ‘Out There‘ and ‘In Here‘.

Out There are meetings, emails, conversations – interactions with others to communicate, advance projects and solve problems.

In Here are little buds of creation, thinking and expression – conflations of knowledge, talent, idea and experience that often produce the most important contributions to the work we do. They may be code, writing, design – or countless other outputs.

In a busy, harried world, how do you make the transition from Out There to In Here?
I suggest you put yourself in the mood with a productivity ritual.

Design a Productivity Ritual

1. Get sensual

I burn oil or incense, put chillout music on my iPod (faves are Ministry of Sound Chillout Sessions, Buddha Bar, Global Chilling and Cafe del Mar) and drink strong Darjeeling tea. Because I only do these things as part of my productivity ritual, they’ve become olfactory, auditory and gustatory cues that it’s In Here time. (Is that a bell in your pocket or are you just salivating to see me?)

How can you alter your sensory inputs?

  1. Sight: Change your scene – face a different direction, move to a different place, turn on a particular lamp, etc
  2. Sound: Listen to a certain genre of music – one that’s not distracting like classical, chillout or instrumental
  3. Taste: Sip a particular drink (um, maybe not vodka)
  4. Touch: Move to a different chair or sitting position
  5. Smell: Light a scented candle, burn incense or oils, or for something less co-worker alienating, dab an aromatherapy scent on your wrist (it doesn’t have to be girly, guys)

2. Pull up the drawbridge

It can be terribly tempting to wander back Out There just as you’re getting settled In Here. Procrastination, self-sabotage and rebelliousness all rear their 3-year-old heads from time to time. Make life easier on yourself by pulling up the drawbridge and removing the temptation.

  1. Close down your browser, Outlook, Twitter and other online siren songsters
  2. Turn off the ringers on your phones and PDA
  3. Close your door if you have one

3. Set a time limit

It’s much easier to (a) get started and (b) keep going if you only have to be alone with your brilliance for a finite period. For me this is about 2 hours. I know others for whom a 30-minute stint is enough to send them screaming back to their Crackberry. Do what works for you.

Don’t be surprised if your allotted time expires and you’re still happily working. If you make this side of the moat a pleasant little castle, you’ll find it easier to spend time there. I mean In Here.

Question: What Productivity Rituals do you use?

Image by visualpanic


32 thoughts on “Get Organized for Better Productivity: Design a Productivity Ritual

  1. BJ Lawrence says:

    Thanks for the article! For years I’ve drowned out the clack of the keyboard, and I can write faster and easier, if I put earbuds or headphones on and plug them into EDM dance music (just sounds, no Vocal House,) and/or some other non-verbal music (classic jazz, classical symphony or chamber music, ) and I do enjoy downbeat chill. The idea is, I play something that isn’t associated with my emotional history, to avoid memories or thoughts interrupting my muse or focus. This is good for physical chores too. I have a tiny MP3 player that I put in my pocket, I plug in earbuds and roam around the house cleaning up the kitchen, doing laundry and tidying up. It gives me more energy.

  2. Timo Kiander says:


    Building rituals is essential for getting things done.

    One way to boost my productivity when working (writing) is to use a timer. This makes me focus entirely to my to a task a hand.


  3. Pingback: annie mueller » 4 Obstacles to Creative Work and How to Get Past Them:

  4. Li says:

    Great tips, but I must add…. when you’re in the office, keep in mind that your co-workers don’t have a choice but to work where they are stationed.
    If they are like me and allergic to fragrances, then they can get severe migraines from scents and the burning of oils etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *