Where Are You the Most Productive?

Jason Fried is the co-founder and President of 37Signals and author of Rework. At a recent Ted Conference, he spoke on the topic of “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work.” (Thanks to ChurchCrunch for bringing this video to my attention.)

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Jason’s presentation got me to thinking, Where am I the most productive? Big surprise: it’s not at the office. Evidently, I am not alone.

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Why is this? According to Jason, it’s because of “the M&Ms.” No, not the kind you eat, silly. Nor is it because of Twitter, Facebook, or blogs—what he calls the modern equivalent of a “smoke break.” Instead, it’s because of managers and meetings. Both can interrupt your work and make it nearly impossible to do real thinking or engage in significant, creative work.

While I think Jason probably over-argues his point, I think it is worth considering his question. Where, when, and how you are the most productive? More important, how can you intentionally build more of this space into your life?

I have three times when I am the most productive:

  1. Sitting on an airplane with my laptop, my Bose headphones, and a playlist of my favorite instrumental soundtracks.
  2. Alone in my den early in the morning, with my feet propped up on my recliner, my computer in my lap, and a steaming cup of coffee at my side.
  3. On Sunday evening after a relaxing weekend, while reviewing the previous week and planning for the upcoming one.

I also try to schedule time in the office every week, where I shut my door, go offline and work on specific projects. Borrowing a phrase from Jason, I call this “The Alone Zone.”

What about you?

Question: Where are you the most productive? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

    I have found that the Dining Room Table is a place where I can spread out my work and be undistracted by “traffic” in the house. I bring a portable speaker in there and play movie scores while I work.

    Secondly, the Public Library. Again, at a big table with music piped through my earphones.

    Thanks for reminding me about these places.

  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

    I have found that the Dining Room Table is a place where I can spread out my work and be undistracted by “traffic” in the house. I bring a portable speaker in there and play movie scores while I work.

    Secondly, the Public Library. Again, at a big table with music piped through my earphones.

    Thanks for reminding me about these places.

    • Jefferson

      I absoutely LOVE the public library!
      I do my best thinking/working there.
      The atmosphere shouts “QUIET PLEASE!” and there is almost no limit to the resources I most prefer.

    • http://www.jondale.com Jon Dale

       Gail, what music do you find most productive?

  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

    I have found that the Dining Room Table is a place where I can spread out my work and be undistracted by “traffic” in the house. I bring a portable speaker in there and play movie scores while I work.

    Secondly, the Public Library. Again, at a big table with music piped through my earphones.

    Thanks for reminding me about these places.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    I am most productive when I am alone at my room in the evening and night. Since, I travel a lot for my work, I enjoy this solitary time. I am very creative and plan and write mostly during this lonely time in my room.

  • Luis Lanz

    For sure, the office do have a lot of distractions, but for me is the right place to work, when i’m at home i’m not really productive, i lost some time doing home stuff, preparing my own coffee, checking topics and then w/o distraction you spend more than the productive time without a pause, because nothing is able to distract you. Once you cross that barrier you won’t be able to be productive the rest of your day.

    So, distraction in the office sometimes are good !

    And .. i like the Alone Zone too

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The key is knowing where you are the most productive. I probably should have pointed out that this can be the office!

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I end up actually carrying the laptop, kindle and 2 or 3 books I need from the church office down to the fellowship hall, spread out on tables and work there. I will get roughly twice as much done that way as I will sitting at my desk.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    I certainly resonate with Jason’s perspective on meetings and managers. : ) I’m not against meetings, just meetings that are unproductive (which is unfortunately more common than not). Meetings that have no agenda or that bring in a large group when only a few are needed thus wasting everyone else’s time.

    Any who… your question wasn’t about meetings but more so about productivity. I find myself most productive when I shut off my phone and turn off my email so that I go into proactive zone versus reactive. It’s like intentionally turning off distractions. : )

  • http://twitter.com/joannamuses joanna

    Probably in the campus library. Doing work feels more natural there than at my desk at home. Up in the academic journals section is great because it is very quiet and feels super academic.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      When I was a college student, I got access to one of the graduate study carrels. It was a small, private study place in the main library. It was awesome.

  • Kingsly

    I am most productive during night watches after my family goes to sleep. Sitting at my desk and concentrating for long hours. Thanks for helping me identify

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt


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  • Kellerjustin

    I create alone time where I tell my team I’m closing my door to crank on projects. I let them know if they need me I’m here and they always respect that only interrupting when absolutely necessary.

    Also, most ideas come to me out of the office so I make it a point to take notes so I’m already off to a head start when I get into the office.

  • mandythompson

    I’d like to be most productive at the office. And I am–when no one else is there to chatter or ask me to fix the copy machine (which is in the adjacent room) or just stand outside my door talking.

    I appreciate his “do what you need to do to get it done” attitude. He had very similar things to say at Story10, and dang if he doesn’t make sense! I love his idea of the no-talking office time.

  • http://twitter.com/StephanieLJones StephanieLJones

    I’m most productive between 5:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. I begin to wind down after most folks I know wake up. I’m productive while sitting in my car (recently gave up reading while driving (that’s a confession)), so I sit in parking lots, at parks, etc… I’m productive in crowded places, like airports and restaurants. I tend to visualize and dream and imagine when I’m in quiet places, so I need noise to keep me “there.” Otherwise, I’m 2, 5, and 10 years ahead, looking into my bright future.

  • http://twitter.com/kennysilva Kenny Silva

    I have an office, but I try very hard to stay away from it. I’m most productive in coffee shops around Nashville surrounded by creative types and business people. The hustle and bustle around me forms a soundtrack that I truly enjoy and the environment keeps me relaxed yet motivated.

  • http://twitter.com/ServingStrong Scott Couchenour

    My most productive place is what Jason calls, “The Alone Zone” as well. Something occurs mentally when I know I am virtually unreachable/uninterruptible. My mind space is free’d up to think more creatively.

    Nice thing about the “Alone Zone” – it can be anywhere. My office, the car while driving, a walk in the park, at a coffee shop with my headphones in, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Hi Mike,
    That is right, Managers and Meetings are a vicious cycles of big corporations to waste time which is our most precious resource in life. What really surprices me is when you find those companies with financial and low customer demand problems, and rather than fixing up the problem, they call most of the buyers, planners, managers to extensive 2-3 hrs meetings, and one meeting after another, then suddenly they realize it is 5PM and they are just getting ready to start their work.

    In my personal situation, I am very productive when I am alone:
    1) Early morning before 8AM – Read, Plan Strategize, excercise
    2) Weekends – particularly Saturday Mornings and Sundays.
    3) When I am driving long trips – I am able to listen some audio books, things about certain problematic situations, etc.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I’m the most productive when I can use focused time to work on one project at a time. Generally this is in the early morning at home for me, but it works just as well at work if I can close my door, turn off email and put the phone on ignore. The secret is to work on only one thing, and block out distractions. I find that a 48 minute time increment for working followed by a 12 minute break allows me to do multiple sessions throughout the day.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree, John. This is a great strategy.

  • http://www.themotherlode.wordpress.com Theresa Lode

    All I could think of watching this is “school’s a terrible place to think!” I am concerned that our kids are growing up in a world of bells and interruptions. Especially when you realize solitude is not only nonexistent for most kids, the thought pursuing it is regarded with suspicion.

    My thinking time/place is early morning with a good cup o’ jo splashed with half and half.

  • http://www.defineddesign.com Lisa

    Curious – How will you apply this to your employees?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I will let them apply it to themselves. I am paying for productivity and results not occupying a specific space. Thanks.

      • http://www.defineddesign.com Lisa

        Love your reply! You truly are the real deal – thanks.

  • http://www.edifier1.wordpress.com Kim Teamer

    I am most productive in the early morning hours when all is quiet in the house and no one else is stirring. I love to spread my materials on the floor of my office or closet (believe it or not) and go. There is absolutely nothing like it!

    Great question. Thanks.

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    I very much resonate with your #2. I love to rise at 5am for my “Alone Time.” I’m enjoying my coffee in my recliner right now, just finished a blog post, now reading my favorite blogs. I’ll soon get up, walk the dog through the snow to the creek in our backyard, and return for a nice breakfast with my family.

    My DW? The exact opposite. Night owl. I’ll bring her coffee after the kids and I are finished with breakfast and the day’s activity gets going. Her Alone Time will be tonight, most likely when I’m about to keel over.

    Great discussion! And it has me thinking about our family, my business, and use of my own time.

  • bevmerriman

    I do all of my strategy work in the swimming pool while doing laps. I can really think about a problem in silence without interruption and I find myself more creative during that period. When I get back to my desk I simply have to execute.

  • Gary

    I am most productive early morning. Either in my office or on my porch either one, but early morning. After 7 PM count me out for real productive work unless it is physical labor and no thinking required. The brain just does not function well after 7 PM.

  • http://twitter.com/marcbuxton Marc Buxton

    I’m also most productive on an airplane….. perhaps I should design my next office with a cramped reclining seat, tray table, and annoying loudspeaker announcements…. :P

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ad don’t forget to build it 35,000 feet off the ground. I think the altitude helps!

  • Jim Seybert

    In my car – I do my best thinking while driving and have gathered some tools to help. The most helpful is the little service JOTT that allows me to use my phone to email messages to myself. I can get more out of a 90 minute drive than an entire day at my desk.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      My car is also one of my best places to recharge, pray, and learn.

    • http://twitter.com/ServingStrong Scott Couchenour

      JOTT is a great productivity tool.

    • http://twitter.com/ServingStrong Scott Couchenour

      JOTT is a great productivity tool.

  • Aprileroland

    Mine is the office, BUT only after everyone has left for the day. I can get so much done between the hours of 3-5pm that it is like an entire work day packed into 2 hours! But it is mostly due to no interruptions, free use of the copier and no distractions!! I usually blast the music and enjoy the Alone Time! Thanks for this post!!

  • Patricia Zell

    Actually, where I am most productive depends on what I’m doing. I get most of my school work done after school in my classroom and the teacher workroom–if I take paperwork home, most times I never touch it. When I’m writing or editing, I work best sitting in our living room with the tv on (harking back to my high school days) or at a table/desk somewhere. Over the years, as a mom of seven, I’ve developed the ability to shut the world out and concentrate on what I’m doing.

  • Esther

    Great post! I just sent this to my boss. He let me work from home today (per my request) so I could get more done!!! :)

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Jason! I have too many distractions at work. I’m amazed what I can accomplish in 2 hours on Saturday at the office without meetings or people interrupting me.

    I live alone so I find home is where I’m the most productive.

  • Akweldy

    Hmmm, I’d say my best work is done at the dining room table when no one is home or someplace like Starbucks, the library, etc where there is no one that knows me. For me that’s the key. If I’m around anyone I know, a conversation will start eventually! (smile)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is where being an introvert (like me) comes in handy. ;-)

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Early morning and late at night — usually on the couch when I get hit with a bout of inspiration. Sometimes, working at home, however, turns into a rut, and I have to go some place noisy and busy — like Panera — where I can get motivated by the lack of solitude. Kind of counterintuitive, but it works.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have had that experience, too. In fact, right now I am sitting in the Sky Club at the airport. Conversations happening all around me, but I am totally in the zone.

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    There’s no question that uninterrupted, undistracted time is most productive in terms of proficiency and quantity.

    But to reach the level of quality which keeps reevaluation and tweaking to a minimum, and effects desired results over a longer term, I consistently find my maximum productivity occurs after I’ve also had uninterrupted, one-on-one time with the Lord, made notes during that time, and later worked off such inspiration and counsel.

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    There’s no question that uninterrupted, undistracted time is most productive in terms of proficiency and quantity.

    But to reach the level of quality which keeps reevaluation and tweaking to a minimum, and effects desired results over a longer term, I consistently find my maximum productivity occurs after I’ve also had uninterrupted, one-on-one time with the Lord, made notes during that time, and later worked off such inspiration and counsel.

  • http://twitter.com/rodneyhunt Rodney Hunt

    Completely agree, while it isn’t a complete alone time, I am working at a coffee shop today and find that this is usually a productive environment for me to get work done and the creative thoughts flowing. Sometimes I need a change of scenery to help get my creativity flowing, and the fresh smell of coffee doesn’t hurt either.

    I also often shut the door at the office and seek alone time where I can think and work on projects. I am thankful I have a job that allows me to do this in order to be more productive.

  • http://twitter.com/rodneyhunt Rodney Hunt

    Completely agree, while it isn’t a complete alone time, I am working at a coffee shop today and find that this is usually a productive environment for me to get work done and the creative thoughts flowing. Sometimes I need a change of scenery to help get my creativity flowing, and the fresh smell of coffee doesn’t hurt either.

    I also often shut the door at the office and seek alone time where I can think and work on projects. I am thankful I have a job that allows me to do this in order to be more productive.

  • http://www.carolyneaarsen.com Carolyne Aarsen

    I’m most productive when I am in my home office, at my desk, with the door shut, the phone off and a little program called Freedom running. It shuts down the internet for a specified amount of time. As a writer I’m always looking for distractions, so shutting off the internet for a couple of hours helps me focus.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have used Freedom, too. It’s a handy little program. Thanks.

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    I am the most productive when at home from 4am to 7am and I am most productive when I go to Starbucks on my lunch break and weekends.

  • http://twitter.com/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

    Where: Anywhere with minimal disruptions. My favorite is a coffee shop downtown. Great views help though too. Sometimes I drive to a beach 20 minutes away, where I can park right on the edge of the sand a look out on Lake Michigan – it’s gorgeous and really drives creative thinking.

    When: Early mornings, when I am most creative. It’s especially helpful right after exercise, Saturday mornings, when my mind is full of ideas.

  • http://hearthopebyolga.blogspot.com Olga

    The library is my favorite choice, because they don’t allow cell phones or talking.

  • Judy Marshall

    I’m a morning person and my family usually leaves the house by 5:30 a.m. So, home and early hours are a good combination for me. I’m least productive in the afternoon so it really helps to change up the scenery. As an assistant, I don’t really have a lot of flexibility to move outside of my designated workspace.

  • http://twitter.com/Jenni_Burke Jenni Burke

    Like Gail, the dining room table is my productivity center of choice. Eighteen months ago, our agency decentralized from the big Office and we all began working primarily from our homes, checking in at the new smaller office occasionally and gathering twice monthly for meetings. This has resulted in increased productivity for all of us.
    As much as I have always enjoyed the social aspect of an office, I am now so spoiled with long stretches of uninterrupted work time that I can’t imagine going back!

  • http://charlesjaymeyer.blogspot.com Charles Meyer

    I am most productive early in the morning or late at night. Usually right before people are waking up or right after people are going to sleep.

    Also the kitchen table or a closed space. If I can move around than I will get distracted.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    I am most able to work in a coffee shop or at home. I do alot of creative work at work, but with so many people coming and going it’s hard to really, really focus.

  • http://www.WooldridgeEquineArt.com Pat Wooldridge

    My Alone Zone (exactly that: No phone, nothing but me, the car, a CD or the classical radio station) is behind the wheel of my car. Ideas flock to me when I’m driving. I work at home except for one day away. My quite unusual computer desk (second-hand French Provincial), in my favorite room, puts me in productive-mode. A variety of generally quiet music—classical, easy listening, movie scores, and even some on vinyl from the 1980’s (mainly Cowboy Culture—which is not the same as Country).

  • http://sharayamikael.wordpress.com Ally Spotts

    I am traveling with a friend across the country on a 50-state road trip (she is a musician playing shows and I am a writer working on a book) and we talk all the time about how difficult it is to find the “alone zone” on the road. We’ve been traveling for five and a half months, and we are constantly around people. That’s why I like the image of you with your laptop and your Bose headphones. It’s as a reminder that sometimes we have to create our most productive space, even when it isn’t ideal.

    As a side note, this is why I am a morning person. I find that if I wake up at 5am no one bothers me for at least an hour and a half :)

  • http://twitter.com/Combsy Combsy

    I have an office built in my backyard that is separate from my house that I work out of. I find that I can get a ton done in that location even with all the distractions of netflix, facebook, twitter ect.

    In fact I find that I can get whatever I need done in a much shorter time frame than my traditional office comrades. This gives me more time to be creative about my job and think of new ways to achieve our goals.

    I love it, I don’t think I could ever go back to a traditional office now.

  • Dan Meub

    Take long showers :) I save up issues that require a lot of creative thinking for my morning shower time. And in general, work that requires me to be “on” is scheduled in the morning and routine work late in the day (horizontal time blocking).

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Some of my most creative thinking is done in the shower. I heard someone explain this recently—that creativity happens when you are relaxed and not trying.

      Good to hear from you, Dan!

  • http://twitter.com/homeschool_news Karla Akins

    My most productive time is also in the recliner, feet up, headphones on playing movie soundtracks. I also have what I call my “writing cave.” I shut the door and I have a sign on it that says “Writer at Work. Do not enter unless bearing chocolate or contracts.” The kids don’t always heed it, but I can point to the sign and make the sign the bad guy. (The dogs don’t pay much attention to it, either.) I am a huge believer it grabbing each second and doing what I can with it. I listen to soundtracks in the car on how to improve my craft, and if I’m doing housework, I’m listening to something that will make me a better writer, mother, wife, Christian. I’m definitely most productive at home rather than the church office. Home is where my heart is and home is where I can concentrate best.

  • http://www.justapinch.com Recipes Club

    Oddly enough, I’m most productive at home and late at night. It’s like my brain finally starts working right when I have to turn it off…

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Procter

    I’m most productive at home sitting at the kitchen table with my MacBook, headphones plugged into SimplyNoise.com and all social networking sites shut down.

    While I liked Jason’s video I agree that he seemed to over-argue the point. That being said it gives me food for thought in prioritizing meetings at work.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • http://bookmakingblog.blogspot.com mnm

    >>my Boze headphones<<

    It's Bose, like nose and rose — not like bozo.

    I'm most productive from 3am to 8am at home — before I drive to my office.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Of course!

      Thanks for this catch. I have changed it.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    The opposition always complains when a president goes on vacation, not realizing that presidents probably think most clearly when they’re playing golf.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      True enough!

  • Anonymous

    I get most of my plotlines and ideas when I run. Something about the solitude, the beauty of the day (usually), the rhythm, and absolutely no media opens up my mind.

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Michael,

    I feel any time I am alone I am most productive, wherever it is.

    Recently I’ve taken to meditating during 1-2 hour walks each day. The ideas that hit me are usually clear, effective and automatically actionable. I set to making the thoughts concrete as soon as I return home.

    I also create quite a bit at the home office early in the morning and late at night. The quieter, the better.

    I feel the only thing blocking instant productivity is some blockage within our being. Usually this comes in the form of distractions, created on both conscious – not being able to unplug, for instance – and subconscious levels.

    Thanks for sharing and have a powerful day!


  • Jason Cross

    I am often most productive at a coffee shop or similar that is a little “out of the way” where few people recognize me (I serve in a visible staff roll at a large church). I think the “noise” gives me something to tune out and helps me focus on the project at hand. Because the “noise” does not require my attention it is not distracting like “noise” at the office often can be.

  • Pitch Joseph

    My opinion on the topic…

    I think we need to define the word productive. What’s the scope of productive? Does it include making decisions in a meeting as a leader? If so, then we are doing work while at work.

    But if the scope limits itself to thinking and implementing ideas, doing the work hands-on etc etc then it really depends, there are people who are more productive at work and forgets about work when they leave the office.

    Then resumes productive work when they get back to the office.

  • Mary Kay

    Thought provoking, Michael. My most productive time is first thing in the morning, just being alone with God.

    Reading the comments, I wish I could find airplane time quite productive, but I don’t. I guess people bumping into me one way or another, having a purse dropped on my head from the overhead bin, etc. is just way more distraction than I can block out. It seems sad, too, that so many of us don’t find time at the office very productive.

    And I wouldn’t have taken you for an introvert! Learn new things all the time.

  • Dwright

    I am most productive:
    1. Early AM, alone at my kitchen table ,writing in my journal.
    2. Lounge chair at the beach with my journal.
    3. Starbucks

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    I find my most productive time is when I am engaged in another activity. It is easy for me to switch from one thing to another. I am least productive when I am not engaged. I become lazy and uninspired.

  • http://www.momentsofgracelotr.com Anne Marie

    My bedroom where my writing/computer desk is or in good weather out on the balcony with my laptop. Listening to music in the bedroom is a good motivation to keep going but I have to be in the right mood to listen.

    God bless, Anne Marie

  • http://www.lamourtrainingsystems.com/ Jimmy Lamour

    My best creative time is when I am “in the zone” with my headphones on listening to some of my favorite tunes on the computer. The songs help me relax and bring my thoughts together. I find that that type of muscial noise or running water is when I have done my best work.

  • http://cashole.co.uk/homebusiness Laszlo Hajmasi

    i appreciate your posting on this topic as i was searching for this. also your writing style is much better than some others i have visited

  • Vincenzo Vecchio

    I totally agree with you. I’m NOT productive in my office..
    I have found to be productive in open air spaces, such as outdoor coffee shops or public parks (with wireless internet connection :) )
    Probably one of my favorite places is Starbucks. The only problem is that we don’t have Starbucks in Italy! :)

  • http://www.johnnymarsh.net/ Anthony_Puttee

    I’m an ‘Owl’ so from about 8pm til the early hours of the morning are where I”m most productive. Every now and then I’ll wander down to the cafe’ for a couple hours to change up the environment.
    Rework is one of the best biz books I’ve read hands down. I recommend the audiobook voiced by Jason himself. Great post Michael.

  • http://twitter.com/barrykahan Barry Kahan

    I always dreamed of how great and productive I would be in a home office. Now I have one and often need to get out to get anything done! The dogs, the phone, email, the refrigerator, snack drawer, UPS delivery,………… that is a good start.

    Love the mornings with the cup of coffee to get day started. Sometimes if only to just sit an think. The quiet brings my mind alive. Great post!

  • Gchalfont1977

    I am also a night owl. :) I am most productive at night when everyone else in the house is sleeping. It’s amazing how much I can get done…

  • Sundi Jo

    1. Vintage Paris coffee shop. A hole in the wall coffee shop with a comfy leather couch. Yesterday I went there to write. I plugged my headphones in, listened to some Eric Clapton and worked on my book It was so relaxing!

    2. In complete isolation, except for my dog sitting next to me dishing out moral support.

  • http://twitter.com/lancecashion lance cashion

    I’m the most productive from 5am-9am and from 6pm-10pm. Therefore, I naturally gravitate toward those times when a task requires cerebral and creative intensity . During ‘normal’ work hours, I’m better off performing multiple tasks where my ADHD can be unleashed to great advantage. This is the time when I deal with emails, phone calls, meetings, clients, prospects, support tasks for my team and tasks that need short but intense focus (less than 15 minutes). In fact, from 8am-11am and 1pm-3pm, my schedule is sectioned into 15 minute activities. It works for me and I use a stop-watch with an alarm to keep myself in line.Jason makes some interesting points and I learned a couple things. I think he’s a bit anti-meeting for the sake of being anti-meeting. There are so many variables in a functioning organization, taking a hard line on meetings is silly. Short, static meetings can benefit the organization a great deal. Face to face communication needs to happen for multiple departments to remain in concert. I perceive meetings in a tonal sense, you need them to create harmony and unity but too many can frustrate your players and keep them from bringing forth the quality sound that you hired them to produce. I know organizations that are Meet-A-holics and their entire existence is consumed by meetings. When I visit with my friends at these places, they have very low moral. They talk about everything and actually ‘do’ very little. Jason needs to speak with these types of organizations.

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  • http://twitter.com/criznale Crystal Renfrow

    I must say that I absolutely *loved* the TED video. Jason Fried described my office life to a tee. I work for a major hotel chain as an administrative assistant to managers. There are days when I can hardly get anything done. But, that’s why I love “No Talk” Mondays! All of the managers take the day off and it is now officially the day when I get the most done.

    At any rate, I am the most productive in a Starbucks coffee shop. Even with all of the people who go in and out while I am there, I somehow shut it out of my mind and work away uninterrupted to my heart’s content.

    Thank you for this post.

  • http://www.embracepositivepassion.com Georgiana

    Definitely being alone allows a person to focus on a project without any interruptions. I find that I can focus more intently and work at my own dedicated pace with no distractions. It’s great to have to meetings and contemplate ideas together in collaboration but it’s even better to plow away and actually check off the completed tasks from my daily to-do list! :-)

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  • Anonymous

    I actually am most productive in my office. My corner of the church is kind of tucked away and quiet. I get lots of stydying done in there. If the area becomes too noisy however, I duck out the door and head to the local coffee shop. I get a lot done there too. And drink a lot of good Columbian coffee…

  • Jim Chrzan

    Let me a bit of a Devil’s advocate. Yes, when it is time to get creative as a writer, alone time is key. However, we run great meetings–short, to the point, with everyone assigned action items. Also, with all the older employees working from home, the youngsters do not have mentors. This is sadly lacking today. Yes, our employees do call spontaneous meetings, own projects and come up with great solutions. Disagree with you here.

    Also, doing everything off-site leads to conference calls with speaker phones (ugh!) or worse, a “go to meeting” scenario with people misdialing, using wrong codes, etc. 20 minutes wasted waiting for folks to call in!

    Also, interestingly enough, hard to build camaraderie with a staff when they don’t really know each other. We even discovered three people working on the same story without realizing it, because they never ran into each other in the hall and had a casual conversation.

    These “bumped into Tom in the hall and he told me…” are priceless interactions we could not live without.

    Glaxo formed innovation hubs where work accelerated because of less e-mails. Have you even seen the chain of e-mails trying to get three people together for lunch? What a waste of time!

    I do not disagree with everything you said, just think there is another side of the coin, and (as a manager) I definitely advocate people coming in. Morale goes up, people do not feel so isolated, brainpower grows exponentially. Also, the look on a customer’s or employee’s face, body language, etc., cannot be conveyed by e-mail or instant messenger. Horrible misunderstandings have arisen resulting from terse e-mails.

  • http://www.gospelofkingdom.com Gregory Scott

    Michael-When I first watched the video I thought it was over the top. Then the more I thought about it as I was at work this last week, the more I realized how right he is. I’ve noticed that the more people I’ve hired in my office the less it seems I get done, and I think it is because I get interrupted more helping them solve problems. So, how do you find the balance between being a problem-solver and teaching your people to solve problems on their own? In your position, I’m sure you’ve had to deal with this.

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  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    Wow, so true! The office is the least productive environment in my life. Great speech; he made some excellent points. Very insightful. Bosses, take notice!

    Joshua Hood

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  • http://www.kellenfreeman.net Kellen Freeman

    I know it’s not the best approach, but deadlines make me productive. I can have all the time in the world to work on something, but if I have no set schedule, it will remain unfinished for a long time. It doesn’t even have to be a very important deadline. For example, if I have to finish something before a show I like on TV comes on, then I’ll have it finished before that show comes on. But if that show wasn’t on that night, I probably would just let it drag out.

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  • Tracy Bumpus

    I worked from home for ten years until about two years ago when I took a new job and now work in a cube farm office. I got SO much more quality work done at home than I do here. I miss it.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Ouch. That’s got to hurt, Tracy!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Why do you think that is? Typical reasons? Do you have an insight?

  • Mike C

    I have a quiet office that usually allows me to be productive. A quiet coffee shop is a nice alternative to help spark some new ideas and eliminate the distraction of projects scattered on my desk.

    Some days, I like to leave work early to pick up the kids from school. This gives both my wife and me a break from our normal routine.

    After we are all home, I continue my work day from the kitchen table. The kids often do their own thing, decompressing from a day of algebra and other classes. They inevitably end up back in the kitchen for a snack or some other activity in the hub of our home. My work productivity drops to near zero. But the productivity of family time soars. Being present at those busy times at home is some of my most productive time for something very important to me – family.

  • Simcha Simpy Green Gluck

    Great Post – Jason made a wonderful point about systemically designed working spaces, and Michael I really appreciated you taking it a step further noticing that maybe there can’t and shouldn’t be one magical place to work.

    This seems similar to the commonly talked about idea of having multiple streams of income, as well as multiple streams of education. The more times you roll the die the more likely you are to be pleased with the results.

  • The Insights Shed

    Looking down the list everyone’s describing the times when they are in a ‘beta’ brain state. This is the one that occurs when you’re in autopilot mode and this state allows more connections to occur in your brain – with the end result that you get ideas! We have the fun job of getting people into that state when it matters because workshops can be effective if run properly!

  • Claire Fitzpatrick

    It depends on the type of work. As a chiropractor who sees patients, by default, I am most productive at the office. As for internal work, I cannot do at my office. I’m in the library at home for that, and mornings work best for me.

  • http://tonygrogan.com/ Tony Grogan

    I definately get more done at home. I work in a “factory office”. Cubicle made from storage cabinets. Constant traffic and factory noise. Not very condusive for productivity, especially not for a design position. Same situation for 6 years, don’t expect change in future. But I have worked in a cube farm before, I’ll take the factory floor any day! Most of my serious design work is done, between 11pm and 5am, at home, while family sleeps. Just can’t get it done at work. Now, if I could find a way to get paid for all those extra hours…

  • Deborah H. Bateman

    Thanks for sharing this post. I’m most creative when I’m home alone. Sometimes I get my best ideas when I’m not trying to work.
    Deborah H. Bateman

  • Mark DeJesus

    Funny this article brings up an interesting point. I do find myself most productive at a coffee shop with a fresh cup, some headphones on and my laptop.

  • http://marknoldy.com/ Mark Noldy

    Exception: Teachers have work days (not work moments).

  • Tom Tonkin

    #1 and #2 at the Kitchen table at 10:00 pm and 6:00 am respectively and #3 in our carriage house which is detached from our home. The funny thing is that if I were to move my office into the carriage house, it would no longer be a productive area :) Thanks for the posts.