(Cross-posted from my (new!) blog)
A friend of mine asked me, and I figured I might as well see how many points I could come up with and commit them to the public record.
H/t Gavin, Neel, Evie, and Alex, for various advice and suggestions.
Something about being watched makes us more responsible. If you can find people that aren't going to distract you, working alongside them keeps you accountable. If it's over zoom you can mute them
I like Focusmate for this. You book a 25 minute or 50 minute pomodoro session with another member of the site and video call during the duration. I've found sharing my screen also helps.
I appreciate the structured, concise, almost fully bullet-point format of this post. Bullet points are underutilized as a viable writing style for presenting finished work!
"Something about being watched makes us more responsible ... In a pinch, placebo-ing yourself with a huge fake pair of eyes might also help."
There are 'Study with me'/'Work with me' videos on Youtube, which is usually just a few hours of someone working silently at a desk or library. I sometimes turn one of those on to give me the feeling I'm not alone in the room, raising accountability.
One warning to those who want to do
Be careful of this if your work requires you to switch between computers, or to work on computers you don't control, or to have others work at your computer. If you have a Dvorak keyboard, none of your coworkers can write a single sentence when you're sitting at your computer trying to figure out something hard. Making your own keyboard shortcuts is less of a problem, unless you rely on them and end up confused every time you go to help a coworker.
I'll also add another meta tip: If you can tell that you're not going to be productive for a while, consider actually taking time off (informally). You slept poorly and won't be able to work well? Don't go to work and unproductively attempt to do things on no sleep. Sleep in and get working once you're feeling better. Obviously you can only do this if you're working fairly independently or flexibly; but if you're an office worker with a good boss, a student, or a freelancer, this is a good way to avoid burning out.