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Founder's Newsletter #34 read older issues here

- Marin

Productivity windows are long periods of time throughout the year (spanning several months) where I observe peak focus and productivity levels.

Over the last five-six years, I've carefully tracked my focus, mood, and behavior with the intention to optimize my productivity. I've come to realize that I experience long periods of increased productivity in a year where it feels that the work is happening with very little effort and friction.

This has become even more obvious since we started DULO, a little over two years ago. For me, a productivity window is around six months in a year, usually starting around October/November and lasting until May. Basically, when the weather in Amsterdam gets cold and rainy, and the days turn darker and shorter. During these months I feel almost a high from doing the work. It becomes very easy for me to get into the zone and stay focused for long periods of time. As a result of this mental clarity, more ideas develop. Traction is easier to achieve. I can confidently say, this productivity window is the time I make the most progress at work. 

One reason for this is that I try to maximize my output and ride the wave until I can no longer push harder. During those periods of increased focus and output, I know that I need much less sleep. I simply feel more energized to work. I am excited about the work - it makes it hard to fall asleep. But it also makes it very easy to spring to action when I open my eyes in the morning. In moments like these, I think it is okay to push a bit harder and ride the wave until it lasts. Once I'm in the zone, I'm not leaving until I feel I've done it all.

A disclaimer here. If you've been following us for a while you know that both Julian and I are in favor of running a calm company and achieving a balance between rest and work. We would never advocate for people to sleep less. I love to sleep.

But what about the time outside this productivity window? Do I just stop working during the summer months? Freeze everything and go into the wilderness to do whatever I feel like doing?

My natural cycle makes me want to enjoy the outdoors more during the warmer summer months. I feel that during this period my mind is more focused on improving things like the body and the mind. It is when I would go more inwards and be more selfish. Go take care of the ego.

That said, to build a business you have to persistently show up. You cannot afford to slack off and not show up, or worse - quit. With all this in mind, I rely on implementing systems that help me move forward and stay disciplined in the times outside my natural productivity window

Some of these are character traits developed over years, such as discipline, work ethic, and patience. However, others are simply tactics I have found very helpful when planning, executing and keeping track of work. Those include task lists (I personally use a Bullet Journal), a whiteboard (prominently on display in my kitchen) where a weekly calendar of priorities is outlined, note taking (both digital and analog), as well as a calendar app (Google Calendar). Combining all these in routines helps me to free space in my mind, stay focused and push through when the going gets tough, or when I am plain lazy.

I also believe that knowing when your productivity windows are, makes it easier to not be too hard on yourself. A-type personalities are notorious for putting too much pressure and often blame on themselves for not working hard enough. But what is enough? We are free to define a comfortable meaning for ourselves. It can be a floating definition. Nothing is set in stone. For me, during my productivity window, enough stretches a long way and I like to take giant leaps. Outside of this period, I have come to adopt a mindset that smaller steps are enough to keep going forward. So, enough is just enough :)

I wanted to share this with you because I have been observing my actions very carefully over the past two months and I can correlate the increased productivity with a growing momentum forming at DULO. On the back of our most successful month in November and a very promising start of December (and I'm not just talking about sales) I am really excited to ride this wave long and hard, until the warmth of late spring arrives, and I shift gears again - for a bit of recovery and refreshment :)

Thank you for your attention!

Marin
Have a great end of the year, all!

Marin
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