Being productive is essentially a skill, and like any other skill, it can become better with practice. First, you have to pay attention to the internal productivity factors like having a routine that works for you, satisfying your physiological needs, doing breathing exercises, and waking up before everybody else. Once you’re ready from within, you can start to implement external productivity factors like eliminating time wasters and toxic relationships, making quick decisions, using hardware and software tools like Trello, Asana, Slack, etc. Essentially, you have to self-discipline and figure out what works for you in terms of productivity. It might be challenging at first, but if you are persistent you will see great results.
Being productive is a skill, and like any skill it can be learned and mastered.
We live in a world where our responsibilities increase, distractions arise 24/7 and our time just seems to keep on decreasing.
Becoming a productive person is all about understanding the factors (whether external or internal) that affect how we perform a task and designing our lives around them so that we make the most out of our time available.
If you find that you don’t have enough time, lack motivation to start or simply feel that your output can be improved here are some tips that I’ve found very useful in becoming ultra-productive.
So without further ado, let’s jump right in and get deep work done.
If you read nothing else this year, at least make sure you read this paragraph carefully and internalize it.
The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that roughly 80% of our outcomes come from 20% of our efforts.
Working on just the right things can lead to far more effective results than trying to focus on everything.
With this in mind, a productive person identifies which tasks can lead to the most output and works on those first, while deferring the other tasks for later or delegating the other tasks to someone else, like a freelancer on Fiverr.
Using a very simple decision matrix to discern what’s important from what isn’t, you should rank your tasks every day by how much closer they bring you towards your long term goals and solely work on them.
Learn how to communicate
Being assertive is a highly useful skill. Not having to repeat yourself saves you time and energy. It also creates a communication environment where fewer mistakes due to misunderstandings are made.
Have a productive routine
Make being productive a habit (and a choice!). Learn how to focus and remained focused. Bundle activities together so you don’t waste time switching gears. The more you plan, the easier it will be stay on track.
Brian Tracy, an expert in sales and renowned motivational speaker, says that every minute spent planning can save you 10 minutes in execution. Learn how to plan your day ahead so you can stop going through crisis after crisis and instead focus on your best work.
Keep hydrated and well-fed
Being hungry or thirsty is a productivity killer. Proper nutrition will ensure optimal results. Professional athletes eat smart and you should too. Junk food will lead to junk performance. Snack smart and often. Use the physiology of your body to your advantage and learn how to manage your “energy bank”.
Breathe deeply to help you focus, workout to boost your energy
Here’s a quick exercise you can do to feel more present and be more focused:
- Close your eyes
- Breathe deeply and exhale slowly.
- Repeat this 4-5 times.
If you do this 45 second exercise, you will notice that your mind will be immediately much clearer.
If you have more time, practice meditation. Find an energy-releasing activity where you can unwind and distract your mind. This could be lifting, biking, hiking or doing yoga.
Wake up before everyone else
Not only this will give you some quiet time to think better but it will also make you feel like you’re getting ahead of your competition and boost your internal energy.
Design your workspace to be productive
If your desk contains video games or clutter, it is likely that you won’t be able to focus as much. Try to remove as many obstacles as you can between you and the task at hand. If you go on Facebook too much, try StayFocusd.
Eliminate toxic people and time-wasters out of your life
If someone is draining your energy or distracting you, they need to go. Learn to say NO more often and stop agreeing to doing everything with everyone. Also, if you have any bad habits such as justifying an 8-hour movie-watching binge as leisure time, those also need to go. Be very honest with yourself and evaluate if a person or an activity is truly being beneficial to you or not.
Performance, it’s go time
You can’t finish if you don’t start. Stop wasting time and just get to it. If you need to sell, just go out and do it.
Make a decision (quick)
A lot of people have decision paralysis. They always seem to need “more time to think about it” or simply “need more information”.
In most cases you already have a decision formed or already have enough information to make a decision, so just decide and move on. Lingering on a problem for too long ends up cluttering your thoughts.
Learn how to do daily activities the most efficient way (to free up your time)
It surprises me how we sometimes learn the wrong ways to do things since young and we never change them: tying our shoes, chopping onions, folding clothes, etc.
As it turns out, you’re probably doing most of these activities in an inefficient way. While relearning might take some time, in the end the time saved or higher output produced due to learning a better way is well worth it.
Use (software or hardware) tools to do your job quicker
Why work when there’s already a pre-made tool that can automate what you do?
You should always look out for tools that can free up your time and allow you to shift your focus towards even higher return tasks. If you can create an email campaign to email all your leads, why would you ever want to do this manually?
A few of my favorites include:
- Trello (or PivotalTracker) for project management
- Slack for communication
- Alfred (great for clipboard history and text snippets)
- Headspace to clear my head with meditation
- A simple piece of paper to jot down the things I need to do that day
Being productive takes a lot of personal discipline but you can make your life a lot easier if you know which important tasks you should work on, you’re properly hydrated and fed and your work setup is clutter-free and conducive to quality work.
The beauty of productivity is that once you start getting the hang of it, your outcome grows exponentially and your time frees up a lot, allowing you to do even cooler things.
If you are serious about productivity, you should outsource as many tasks as you can as laid out in my Fiverr review.
If you are looking for suggestions on productivity and work management tools, read my guide here.