Productivity Hacks, October: The Anti-To-Do, Eisenhower and Eye-Stress Hack


Being big on workplace innovation, we’re also pretty addicted to ‘productivity porn’. This is our attempt to translate that addiction into ah, something productive. So starting today, every month the Frontier blog will give you the lowdown on a few productivity hacks tried out by team members.

The Anti to-do List

We’ve all had those days. Really busy days on which we look back and struggle to remember what exactly it is that we did that kept us so busy. We look at the depressingly un-ticked boxes on our to-do lists and wonder where all that time went. This can leave us feeling frustrated and empty, regardless of the fact that the day may actually have been good and useful.

Enter the ‘anti to-do list’ concept. It is pretty simple. In addition of keeping a list of things you have to do, also keep a list of things you have done. This simple step can have mind-blowing consequences as your brain at the end of yet another exhausting but seemingly unfulfilling day looks at your anti to-do list and realizes that hey, my day wasn’t such a waste after all.

I like to include every little thing I do on it. Spoke to a contact for a good 30 minutes on work related matters? Put that down, it’s great network building and learning. Browsed Facebook for 3 hours instead of getting on with your work project? Put that down, it’s great er.. market research.

In addition to telling you exactly what you did and giving you that warm glow that arises out of knowing that you spent the day well, the anti to-do list can also tell you exactly where your time is going. Allowing you to cutback and expand on various areas as appropriate.

The Eisenhower Hack

Like all influential men, Eisenhower also said and did a few profound things that seem simple and obvious in retrospect. Find yourself needlessly checking email instead of getting along with an urgent piece of work? Or perhaps you get absorbed in your immediate tasks too many days a week to get in a good workout session or two. Well, Dwight Eisenhower Nailed A Major Insight About Productivity, and maybe his tips will help you and I organize ourselves better.

The following matrix is worth looking at.


The biggest quadrant we all tend to ignore is that one marked ‘important yet not urgent’. Working out, spending time with family etc can give us long term benefits that’ll keep us happier and productive over the long haul.

In politics, for example, current U.S. President Barack Obama has dinner with his family when he’s in the White House and works out for an hour every morning. His logic was always, ‘The rest of my time will be more productive if you give me my workout time’.

The Eye/Head Stress Hack

This is something I learned from an eye specialist a couple of weeks ago. My eyes would get teary, not out of grief but presumably out of weakening eyesight. I also started getting migraines and dull aches in my temples and throbbing headaches. Obviously I thought I needed glasses, but it turns out my ailments were a simple result of imagination (in other words, I was crazy) and stress.

To help my eyes and migraine, my doctor gave me one single hack, and so far it seems to be working brilliantly. He told me to take a break in-between every 20 minutes of work. Go out and focus your eyes on something natural and far away, instead of something unnatural (i.e. my computer screen) and close by. After just about two weeks my eyes now feel restive and relaxed and my headaches are reducing.

Apparently, it’s a common problem. The 20-20-20 rule is something a colleague told me about later; “working at a computer or even staring at a small cell phone screen for long stretches at a time can lead to eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes, and headaches — a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). You can avoid this by following the 20-20-20 rule”. i.e. look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes at a spot 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

As for psychological stress, well the only hack for that is to relax. Don’t let work affect your emotional well-being.

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