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Flint's Engineering Portfolio

Systems for Producing Focused Work

I believe that deep, focused work is a the product of conscious effort into building systems and environments the support it, not something that occurs naturally or without effort. In order to support my focus and productivity, I have established the following schedules, boundaries, and filters. This all may seem excessive and I want to stress that none of it is necessary, I do not need these things in order to be productive. However if I have methods of providing myself an advantage, then I will use them. We all go through emotional highs and lows, and during the lows it tends to be more difficult to establish focus. These methods are there to support me when I need them, instead of relying on good-ol' will power in the moments where I have little of it.

Work Environment:

While I can work in any environment, I set up spaces that are devoted solely to work. For example, my office is dedicated to work and reading. This set up includes:

- My phone is only allowed in during work calls and I have a container attached to the wall outside of the office so that it has a dedicated place to stay while I am in the office.

- A supply of earplugs, timers, pens, and notepads

- Artwork aligned with my goals:

- My university degree

- Patents, publications, certifications

- Positive reviews and comments from students or colleagues that I have helped

- Inspiring books I have read

- Maps of places I have explored

- Calendars and goal-tracking counters

- Images of personal idols like my grandfathers

- Positive affirmations

- Procedures/routines related to deep work (rituals for starting and finishing work, quotes that keep me focused)

- I maintain a clean environment, attempting to spend 5 minutes a day cleaning my desk so that the space is always ready for work when necessary

- Charts with healthy resting activities that I can select from when I am feeling low energetically or emotionally.

Boundaries:

- Electronics

- I identify periods of my work day that do not require cellular access. During these times my phone is turned off and stored in its dedicated home outside my office (and outside of my bedroom).

- My phone is never allowed in my bedroom as a method of preventing electronics from interfering with my sleep.

- Social media (TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) is blocked on all my electronic devices all day, everyday, except for two dedicated 30 minute sessions per week. I use a third-party service (https://later.com/) to schedule my social media content without having to interact with the softwares.

- Friends and Family

- I let friends and family who may need or expect to need my attention know the periods of my days that I will be unavailable.

- Hobbies

- My main hobbies include weight lifting, hiking, paddling, and surfing. Weight lifting, paddling, and hiking generally do not impede on my schedule because I plan them in advance. Since surfing has a more spontaneous timing (tides, winds, swells, requires sunlight, etc.) I walk through the following questions in order to determine if I have time:

- "Did I accomplish my work yesterday?"

- "Can I surf and still have time to accomplish my work today?"

- "Do I have the physical energy to surf and still get my responsibilities done?"

- "Will I need to sacrifice anything else in my day in order to surf?"

Filters:

- Freedom.to with screen time lock

- I use an application called Freedom.To (https://freedom.to/) to set up filters on my electronics that prevent usage of certain websites or applications (like social media as mentioned above in the boundaries section)

- OneSec app for pausing and intention-setting

- This app is installed with shortcuts for all applications that might provide the opportunity for wasting time. It forces me to take 30 seconds before these apps open and gives me the space to determine if I need to use that application or if I am searching for a way to procrastinate or spend time poorly.

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