Blog Post

Shake Things Up: Alter Your Routine to Improve Productivity

One of the dangers of web working is that of getting stuck in a rut. Not that people working in traditional settings aren’t also affected by this professional pitfall. In fact, web workers are probably better off than most because more decisions about how and where we work are generally left up to us. Even so, it’s important to change up your routine every now and again. I’m going to share an easy, cheap and effective method that I’ve used to shake things up in this post.

For me, my routine initially acts as a boon to productivity, allowing me to work even when I feel less motivated simply because I’ve established the habit of doing so. This works very well, until the system itself becomes oppressive and counter-productive. There is a fine line between routine and drudgery.

When the oppression descends and my productivity starts to suffer, I have to find a way to change things up, and usually that means a wholesale shift across my entire workflow. I recommend this kind of extreme action because it  seems to re-energize me, and not only result in a boost in productivity, but also in more innovative and creative solutions for my projects.

My latest shift has taken me out into the community, not for a coworking solution (which I’ve tried before, and thoroughly enjoyed), but for a sort of rediscovery of the place in which I live, with my professional life along for the ride. To accomplish this, I picked up a 3G wireless internet USB stick from my cell phone provider, and an Asus Eee PC 1000HE, which boasts 9.5 hours of battery life (and actually delivers more like 7 or 8, which is still plenty).

I also got a couple of inexpensive memberships to local museums, including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. It’s a lot cheaper than renting office space or splitting on a coworking venue, a lot more interesting than Starbucks, and I’m free to loiter without shame for as long as I want.

I find that I can work at one location in the morning, then hop on the subway for a short commute, and work at the other for the remainder of the day. Of course, I also have the freedom to wander as much as I want, but having those memberships ensures that I have a comfortable base to operate out of for less than $200 a year that’s not my home office.

It may not be as exciting as web working while traveling to far-flung international destinations, but it is a cost-effective way of injecting some life into your routine if it starts to threaten your productivity. I only wish I lived in Chicago instead of Toronto so I could get a Shedd aquarium membership. Talk about an ideal office!

What do you do to stop your routine getting stagnant?

14 Responses to “Shake Things Up: Alter Your Routine to Improve Productivity”

  1. Pretty cool ideas. I often get a bit tired of working at home and need to work somewhere else. I try Starbucks, Borders, and the library. Many of these places can get a bit boring. I like the museum example. I think I will try that.


  2. The idea of getting memberships to your local museums to work at is a great one – I have been a member of the Philadelphia Art Museum for years, and have been using it as a “workspace” for a long time now.. There are a ton of great spaces to work in, and they even have free WIFI (although I have a modem).

    And the artwork is better than the IKEA masterpieces I have on my wall at home!