Inspired by recent batch of productivity posts, I wrote my short story down. To a reasonable extent, this story is real.

2:00 As usual, I put my breakfast into the microwave and set it to 2:00.
1:58 It took two seconds for a train of though to start:
  "Waste, again. Again!"
  "What am I supposed to do this entire time? Stare at the clock?"
  "Useless and boring, but can't start any serious work or thought in time-frame this short"
  "Why don't I switch to Soylent, hire a maid or just eat the damn thing cold?"
1:53 It took me five seconds to notice and derail that train on the basis of "Been there, done that, nothing significant changed since"
  But this time something went differently.
1:52 "What do I get to lose if I just try to do something, anything?"
  "Food's gonna get cold. Also you can't multitask that much, so no thinking either."
  "So what. If I don't make it in time I'll just reheat that food and at least one other thing will be done already. And didn't I just say I can't think of anything serious that fast anyway?"
  It took me 16 seconds to scan today's TODO for anything I had any chance to accomplish within ninety-something seconds.
  "Work. Takes too long to start, hardware limitation"
  "Read... what? Would take a while to find something new and short enough. I could prepare next time, not now"
  "A shower. Usually takes me at least 5 minutes... but why?"
1:36 I rushed to the bathroom.
  "Skip everything that can be skipped, but nothing important"
  Leaving clothes where I stand.
  "No time to fiddle with the faucet. Just turn it on roughly around the point where it's supposed to be"
  A bit too cold. So what.
  "No time to select soap/shampoo/gel. Just apply top-to-bottom whatever comes up first."
  Blargh, hair conditioner. Bad idea.
  "Note to self: sort this stuff"
  Top-to-bottom, fast moves, keep accurate.
  "Come on, come on, come on! I can't believe the microwave didn't finish yet!"
  Head too. Don't skip anything important, remember? One last jet of water and I grab the towel.
  "No need to dry the hair so much, you're not going out anytime soon"
  I throw the towel back on the hanger and run to the kitchen. Did it beep already and I didn't hear it? Did it broke?
0:42 "What?!"
0:41 - What?!
0:20 For 21 seconds of my Saved Time I allowed myself to stare at the clock to make sure time flows at the same rate it used to.
  "It took me 54 seconds to take an okay shower. A minute and 40 seconds ago I didn't believe it was possible."
  "Not productive."
  "What else can I do?"
  "Now we're talking!"
0:001 I spent the last 20 seconds to build a mental model of what just happened and store it for later experiments...
  ... and then it hit me, again. I made breakfast, took a shower and thought of something new and possibly significant, all within the time-frame so short I didn't believe possible. I could multitask that much. And I will do better with training.


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16 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 3:41 PM

productivity tool: race

My first thought: well, that's putting it rather bluntly... Oh, ze's probably referring to the competitive time thing.

And I will do better with training.

Bahahah. Your current neurochemical high will wear off in 2 days.

­Bahahah. Your current neurochemical high will wear off in 2 days.­

This should be written in bold red letters on the fourth cover of every motivation and productivity book or guide.

Right underneath it should be: establish new habits fast, while it's still easy!

Bahahah. Your current neurochemical high will wear off in 2 days.

Current? The event happened months ago, I only wrote it down now, I hope it's obvious you can't keep this up 24/7. A silly example: I learned to put on and take off my jacket while walking the stairs. Saves me few seconds every time I go out. It's a habit now and, most importantly, it was fun to pick that habit up. It's boring to cleanup a desk. It's fun to try to cleanup a desk with only one hand within 20 seconds.

The story is just a feed for thought, it's up to the reader to figure out what works for him.

Your current neurochemical high will wear off in 2 days.

Moreover, guess what follows manic phases... :-/

I usually do ab crunches while the microwave is on. push ups also work.

A friend of mine always takes 30 seconds showers. Over the years, that has saved him many hours of spare time.

You people are all weird. Showers are time I enjoy spending.

It's the drying up that I need to optimize, and that's not dependent on how long I was in the shower.

Drying optimization: Leave the bathroom door open and the shower curtain partway pulled so humidity doesn't collect in the room. Have an oversized bath sheet in reach (you can get good ones at Costco). When you're done showering, towel-dry hair, then the rest of you, then comb your hair so it doesn't stick. Without humidity in the room, you don't keep sweating so you don't feel clammy. You can get dressed immediately if you're pressed for time. If you're like me and hate putting dry clothes on damp skin, find something you can do for ~15 minutes at the computer while you air-dry the rest of the way. (ETA: making/eating breakfast is good for this since you probably have to do it anyway.)

(also, I like showers too, but I hate the time lost. I compromised by moving most of my morning routine into the shower, e.g. shaving.)

Edit: And I have no idea how people manage five minute showers. It takes me longer than that just to lather and rinse my hair.

As someone who cut his hair from long to short recently; short hair is much, much faster to clean.

If you have short hair already, I can't help you.

Shave it off?


Cold water. Single easiest way to shorten showers.

You obviously don't have children.

With children there is always something one can do in any single minute between other tasks. Talk and play with (aka educate) them. Move some toys or other things nearer to where they belong (my incremental house keeping strategy). Prepare some preparable items for lunch or school or trip or paperwork (thus moving them incrementally toward their place in time).

ADDED: To make this comparable to your story:

2:00 To son 2: "You have to leave for school in two minutes."

1:57 To son 1: "Finish your breakfast and get ready for school."

1:53: To son 3+4: "Get on my arms." Scrambling.

1:45: Carrying them upstairs.

1:33: Handing son 3 some pieces of clothing from a chair where it was prepared earlier. "Please put these on".

1:27: Changing diaper for son 4, helping him with body and pullover. Telling them where we will go today. Leaving them.

0:40: Taking the remaining clothes downstairs where they will be put on later when we leave the house.

0:30: To son 1: "Please get up and put your dish into the sink." Nudging him to actually get up.

0:22: To son 2: "Have you got you lunchbox and bottle?" - "Yes" - "Put on your helmet."

0:15: While waiting for him to finish picking up some matchbox cars and putting them into the "up" basket.

0:05: Hugging son 2: "Good bye and a happy day. See you in the evening."

0:00: Door closes.

OK. Granted. Usually it will not be exactly two minutes but you get the idea. There are lots of routine tasks running concurrently interspersed with cognitive tasks like telling them what they have to expect soon and answering questions.