I’ve read, watched, learnt, practiced and preached productivity for a while. There’s always a steady stream of great strategies out there and I’m a huge fan.
I’ve picked these strategies up along the way and use them every single day. Mind you, I could write a 10 minute piece on each of these making my case as to why they’re great. But the list is long so I kept each one short. They’re a great help to me, hopefully you find at least one of them useful!
1 | The Morning Memo
At the end of every day, set out a small but substantial goal for the next day and regardless of what you do the next day, you have to complete that task. Whatever else happens that day, you will have achieved something.
2 | The 3 Second Rule
Force your survival instinct to kick in while you leave your analytical mind behind. If you know you need to do something, count to 3 and do it. After you get to 0, you have to do it, otherwise this rule will never work for you again. This rule will force you to throw away all the time you will have otherwise spent talking yourself out of it or procrastinating. It’s basic, it’s simple and seems like an ill thought throwaway ‘rule’. I promise it’s not, try it.
3 | Hardest Thing First
Tackling the hardest part of your day, as the first thing you do in the day will make the rest of your day oh so smooth. Everything will come effortlessly and you’ll be exponentially more productive, able to keep the momentum going when each task get’s easier and easier.
4 | Divide And Conquer
The trouble with productivity or lack there of, is trying to take something huge and tackle it head on. This will almost always be so daunting that you will resort to procrastination. If you divide up the work into more digestible chunks, you’ll be able to bring yourself to do the work and one step at a time, finish the previously gargantuan task.
5 | Effort Management and Delegation
You have 1000 effort points a day. You want to spend all those effort points on the things that matter. Let’s say the optimal task to spend a single effort point on brings you $1. If task X takes 200 effort points (1/5 of your daily limit or $200 in potential value) but it only costs you $100 to get someone else to do it, then just delegate and don’t do the task yourself. Spend the effort on what matters, delegate smaller tasks. Logically it makes perfect sense, practically, we all neglect it.
6 | Rubber Duck Debugging
You have a problem that you’re working through in your head, the issue with that is, things in your head can get a little complex and muddled. This causes you to hit an all time productivity low. You have a persistent problem and it’s hard to work through. To fix this, you get a rubber duck and explain the problem to the rubber duck. This helps you verbalise the problem and most of the time, when you verbalise it by using actual communication, you tend to fix the problem. (you don’t really need to use a rubber duck, an inanimate object or disinterested friend is ok too)
7 | The Knowledge Card Trick
Sticky notes, Trello, a whiteboard… something. Getting tasks from head to paper is a fantastic way to de-clutter the mind. There’s no better way of getting things done than actually knowing what needs to be done. And make no mistake, even though those tasks are in your head somewhere, you tend to not know about it until it’s facing you in the ‘To-Do’ column in Trello. Bonus points if you stick a deadline on each task, this does a lot of preventative work. What are we preventing you ask? A never ending To-Do List I answer.
8 | The Marathon vs Sprint
You should put maximum effort into not relying on motivation. I love motivational and eye-opening quotes from better people but that doesn’t exactly help me. Neither I or you or anyone will achieve their goals from random sporadic moments of motivation followed by a decline in effort. Avoid going cold turkey on bad habits and avoid going all in on good habits. You aren’t a switch, you’re a human and you need to condition yourself by making small changes that will eventually turn into big results.
9 | The Community Architect
The old adage of “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” has a lot of truth to it. We’re social creatures and as intrinsically valued as we might be, we will always look for external validation, competition and support among other things. If you’re a hustler that hangs out with drones, your hustling won’t improve, won’t be appreciated and feeling out of place might put you in a state of mind that won’t be healthy for anyone, least of all yourself. You’re the architect of your own community, make sure you spend extra care when picking your friends.
10 | Steam, Serenity, Sports and Sex
You’re not a robot and neither is anyone else. You can’t be expected to or can’t expect perfection and pure productivity of yourself. So put away that guilt because I know you feel it. Everyone needs to blow off steam, meditate one way or another, keep physically active and get physical as much as possible. These things aren’t a luxury, they’re requirements. If you still feel guilty, treat it like maintenance, because that’s what it is.
11 | The False Substitute
I hate Gary Vaynerchuk. Not because he’s a bad guy — he’s not, not because his content isn’t valuable — he’s got great tips, and not because of that aura of arrogance. You know, the usual reasons why people aren’t a fan. I hate Gary because whether it’s intentional or not, an army of aspiring entrepreneurs neglect sleep and substitute it for work because of his content. Look, If you need 8 hours, don’t do 6. You don’t need to do 6. Getting 2 extra hours at the expense of losing quality for every other hour in your day is just no worth it. It’s a false substitute. I need 7–8 hours of sleep for maximum on-the-ball time. You best bet that I’m taking those hours. If you can have maximum on-the-ball time with 5–6 hours, power to you sir and/or madam. If a ‘hustler’ laughs at you for sleeping 8 hour nights, crack a smile and move on.
12 | 15 Minute Self Care Routine
Every day, I block out time for deliberate and focused self care. Making my bed, tidying my desk, shaving and showering. I’ve found that I can’t fully take care of tasks and problems throughout the day, if I don’t respect myself enough to spend some time on myself. It doesn’t have to be over the top, it doesn’t have to be huge. Making it deliberate and focusing on only that will be enough to build up a small routine with huge dividends. If you haven’t walked into a tidy work space, or ended the day by retreating into a tidy bedroom, give it a try.
13 | Social Media Trading Hours
Delete all social media applications from your phone, and have a designated time in the day to check these on your desktop/laptop. You can try setting the schedule and being disciplined enough to not look at them until the time comes but bare in mind… Top apps tend to be owned by companies worth billions of dollars, and they tend to invest quite a bit of time and money to make you an addict through behavioral triggers and complex algorithms, neatly packed into smart UX design. Get rid of them and enjoy the extra hour in your day that you magically created.
14 | Fear Deconstruction
If your productivity in relation to new undertakings, and general progression to more fulfilling things has ever been hindered, you can blame fear. Starting a new workout regimen, trying a new diet, taking a new class are all productive. But fear of the most mundane sort will take over and stop you from doing these things. Physically write down every fear you have relating to the action. You’ll find that writing them down and taking a moment to read will help you realise how ridiculous some of these fears are, eventually allowing you to work through them.