\’Sound of Metal\’ star Riz Ahmed: 10 productivity habits

Time he wakes up

7 or 7:30 a.m.

Productivity apps he uses

“So much of productivity is about keeping all these productivity tools, like Slack, Whats­App, and Brainbox, at arm’s length. I use Freedom, a web blocker that stops you from going online. It shuts me out after 8 or 9 p.m. until noon [the next day].”

His relationship with social media

“I don’t check my accounts. Anything that needs to be posted I send to my assistant, and she posts it for me. [Social media is] a necessary evil because it is the way that so many of us are connected. It’s how we can shine a light on good causes and make a social impact. [But] we’re all addicts in recovery at this point and we need to create safeguards.”

Trick for maintaining home/work separation

“I use a phone safe—a timed kitchen safe you can buy on Amazon for $30—to put my phone in overnight. I lock it in at 8 p.m., and I’m not getting it back till 2 p.m. the next day. The days I do that, I feel freest psychologically. When I really need to go into lockdown mode, I also remove Safari from my phone and give my wife or a friend or family member the ScreenTime passcode so I can’t just re-download it—or Instagram or Twitter. I don’t have access to that passcode even now.”

Definition of productivity right now

“A lot of us were trapped in a kind of unsustainable workaholism. Getting to the top of that capitalist mountain did not save us from the pandemic. Individualistic ambition is limited. It can get in the way of [the kind of thinking] we need more of right now, which is a community-oriented thinking.”

Best habit

“I don’t let much slide.”

Worst habit

“I’m quite good at beating myself up over things. I’m trying to be better at giving myself a break. Taking holidays and not feeling guilty about it is part of productivity. Almost every holiday I’ve taken has been with someone else or a group of people. [And] they have to spend a long time convincing me to join them.”

One thing he’s done this year to try to improve himself

“I started cooking. Before [the pandemic], I was trying to throw as many ingredients as possible into a NutriBullet and throw them down my neck on the way to do something. Cooking was something I did not take time to do. Still, you definitely want to avoid eating [any] meal that I’ve cooked if you can.”

Last thing he does at night

“Journaling always makes me feel better. I’ll do it four or five days a week. It’s a way of processing what I’ve experienced and understanding how I feel about it. I think you have to [use] pen and paper because you write slower than you think. It’s a way of forcing yourself to sit with each thought. There’s something cathartic about putting [thoughts] onto the page. That’s what started driving me to write lyrics.”

Time he goes to bed

“Ideally, 10 p.m., but in reality it’s closer to midnight.”