Wait, is this your relationship with productivity?
Admit it, you envy productive people. You keep telling yourself that you could be more productive if only you use your time better and smarter. You read books and blogs and listen to podcasts on productivity hacks. You know the drill by heart: Set goals, use a timer for uninterrupted focus, avoid distractions, focus on one task at a time, and just hustle after what you want. But when it’s late morning already, and you have not accomplished any of your to-do items even though you got up early and hustled to work.
You wonder to yourself when you will figure this productivity ‘thing’ out.
Here’s the problem: Your relationship with productivity is a forceful one.
You want to force productivity into your day, rather than, shall we say, integrate it? Forcing habits, routines, and ideas into ourselves fails every single time.
Why is this so hard to see this?
Because the failure is not immediate, it happens gradually. See, at first, when you force yourself to use a timer to complete a task, you will be successful at it. But it doesn’t “stick” and sooner or later, your older, stronger, and more established habits will swing you back to your natural rhythm. And you are back to wondering why productivity is so elusive, so out of reach for you.
Well, it isn’t. You can achieve it but first, improve our relationship with productivity.
Stop forcing productivity. Start integrating it instead.
Instead of forcing productivity into your life, choose to integrate it.
First, you need to understand the pieces of the puzzle that create a completely productive system for you.
I repeat the important keywords: For You!
Then integrate these pieces as small building blocks into your lifestyle, your habits, and your natural rhythms. In order to know what these building blocks are, you have to understand what is getting in the way of your productivity and what is enabling your productivity? Do you know that already?
Because sometimes, there are no outside forces, no deadlines and no pressures from others to get anything done. You need to drive yourself to results. You need to motivate yourself to be productive. And you need to do this every day, sometimes, multiple times a day, and it feels like a massive effort.
How do you make productivity flow into your days?
How do you make it your standard mode of operation, not something you need to strive for?
7 Productivity hacks you could be using right now
Yes, tools and apps and technology can make us more efficient, and sometimes enable lots of productivity too. We are not going into that here. We are taking the indirect approach to productivity. The only thing you need to put these productivity hacks to work is your decision to take them seriously.
If you have doubts that it won’t work, make a deal with yourself. Commit to doing them for only a week. If you are not massively productive at the end of that week, come back here and let me know. We’ll find you a new solution!
Now, the seven productivity hacks you could be doing now:
1. Empty the mind, focus the mind.
Professional sports athletes and dancers pump themselves up before a performance by visualization and meditation and affirmations and more techniques. In essence, they empty the mind clutter, they quiet the mind chatter, they put everything aside so they can focus singularly on the task at hand. First, you empty your mind, then you focus it. Do this by simply saying it out loud.
For instance, before writing your daily 1000 or 5000 words a day, you say: “I empty my mind of all chatter. I focus my mind on writing 5000 words now.” Repeat this mantra. Believe it. Get on board with it. Focus on it. Then and only then start your work.
2. Tackle the ugly monkey first. Then a big reward.
You’ve heard it but are you doing it? Eat the frog first thing in the morning. Attack the ugliest task first. One thing I’d add to that: put the ugly task or the frog on the calendar and treat it like a meeting. You can only do this if you’ve already done #1: Empty the mind, focus the mind.
And one more thing, give yourself a reward. Seriously, reward yourself like you would a child or a dog. Your own sense of accomplishment is a great reward but why not throw something else in the mix? I love and dread making my career videos. They take massive efforts of preparation, focus, creativity, attention, energy, and presence to create. I am at best exhausted for the rest of the day after doing just two.
But, but but BUT, I also feel the greatest sense of completion and accomplishment when I am done. Then comes reward time. I give myself downtime, movie time, or yoga time.
3. Exercise the body 30 minutes a day. Minimum.
Your body’s health and happiness is directly related to your productivity and throughput.
When you are sick, you are not doing so hot on the productivity scale. To avoid using sick time, stick to any exercise routine that works for you but do 30 minutes minimum per day. Every Single Day!
Exercise is one of those productivity hacks that doesn’t make sense at first because it feels like you are taking time out from work but in fact, you are getting time back: with more energy, more focus, better health and higher creativity.
If you are not doing this, you are sabotaging your every chance at massive productivity and subsequently, massive success. Exercise clears the mind. Exercise rejuvenates the body. Exercise helps with digestion and perspiration is a natural purifier and detoxifier. Exercise combats countless health problems. Exercise builds your confidence. Exercise heals and strengthens the body. Exercise controls your weight. Exercise improves your mood and kicks in your creativity. Exercise gives you time to connect with your body and your mind.
The result: A more productive you!
4. Do nothing first, then do everything: Meditation.
If you are too busy to meditate 20 minutes a day, a zen master once said, then meditate for an hour. Meditation, like exercise, gives you time back and the quality of the time that you get back from meditating as little as 10 minutes a day is much higher than if you were to skip this. See, you don’t need hours and hours of time to be massively productive.
You need only to increase your level and quality of productivity during the time that you have. Meditation is an excellent tool to help you achieve this.
These guided meditation tracks have been my go-to source of meditation for several years now, and I can’t recommend them enough. Do it for the sake of productivity and you may just fall in love with meditation in the process.
5. Streamline the process: Stick to one single tool.
You don’t need more tools and apps and processes to be more productive. It’s not a linear process. You need to eliminate and in fact, I suggest sticking to a single method.
If you are following Getting Things Done by David Allen, then stick to just that system. If you are trying a new app, then use only that app.
If you are following the Pomodoro Technique, then stick to that.
Use one single system or app or tool for a period of 2 weeks, measure results, then move on to another if you are not happy or continue using that system if it works.
6. Watch what you put in your mouth: Eat a high-energy inducing diet.
Your diet couldn’t be more instrumental to your productivity. If you live on caffeine, sodas, junk foods and fast foods, you are willingly handing over hours of power productivity over to your body so it can digest and deal with the “food”.
Think how productive you feel after a heavy lunch or after a day or two of eating poorly? Think how much effort it takes to just focus when you are tired and dizzy from a hangover? Note: I’ve never had one but I’ve observed a few who did! Not pretty!
Now compare this to how productive you feel after a healthy meal, a green juice or a raw salad? If you’ve never had a green juice, grab The Healthy Juicer’s Bible and add juicing to your life, if only for the increased energy. Change your diet if you want to super charge your productivity. Simple as that.
7. Get the rest your body needs: More Sleep, not less!
Are you obsessed with getting less sleep so you can secretly brag about it? The person who sleeps 4 hours a night is not a hero. Sleep loss can lead to serious health issues, loss of focus, and according to WebMd, it dumbs you down! Ouch!
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried every hack to sleep less over the years, and now that I am getting enough sleep, my productivity has doubled! Doubled!! I love my waking hours just like you, and yes, I do wish that we needed less sleep so we could participate longer hours in life, but that’s not up to us to change, and if you force yourself to sleep less, it catches up sooner or later.
Commit to getting enough sleep and be proud of it. And trust the rested happy body to give back with focus and productivity.
10 productivity blogs you should be reading.
Here’s 10 great productivity blogs with a link to one of their best articles. Read and grow your own productivity:
- Getting Things Done
- A Year of Productivity
- Dumb Little Man
- Change Your Thoughts
- Smarter Strategies
- Steve Pavlina
- Prolific Living
Ready to go from procrastination to productivity?
These hacks are the path to your long-term sustainable productivity. You can break the cycles of procrastination, rewire your brain, release old patterns and lay the groundwork for a new cycle: more productivity. Now if you can’t remember all the details, just know the single secret to your long term productivity.
Everything else is secondary and pales in comparison. This one is the one non-negotiable in your list. This is the one thing you cannot afford to sacrifice when things get too busy and when you are too tired and too preoccupied.
This is the only thing you will definitely regret if you overlook it long enough. If I must say it in a Shakespearean tongue, then I will:
If thou wishes to be a productive human being, thou canst neglect thy health! ~ Prolific Living
Why do it alone? Stop being a hero. Work with an expert.
If you have done all of these productivity hacks, and you are still having trouble integrating productivity into your life, stop losing more time, and start working with a productivity expert or coach to build a system that works for you. I had only 6 weeks to write, edit, layout and turn in a 40,000 word manuscript to my publishers for my first book.
Even though my specific project – in this case, turning in a book to publishers - may be unique, I followed a productivity and results-oriented system that can be replicated and applied to other projects, and I gladly share this and other productivity tools that have served me well with my clients. Interested in super charging your own productivity? Apply to my coaching program here.
Don’t leave yet! Share your single best productivity secret in the comments below.