The Only Thing You Need to Know About Being More Productive


How much time do we waste reading about ways to become more productive? There are some great resources (check out Chris Bailey’ blog, A Year of Productivity), but these are rare. Do I need another article on the top ten ways zillionaires spend their morning? Or the twelve tricks to get more done?

In reading too many of these “increase your productivity” articles, I’ve learned:

  • complex tasks should be completed first…or start with the simpler stuff.
  • don’t check your email in the morning…or in the afternoon…or before bed.
  • start every day with a list of five things you want to get done…or three…or ten in order of priority…or seven by projected impact…or eleven based on the lunar calendar.
  • unsubscribe from distracting email subscriptions…unless you are putting them in folders to read later…although using folders is not productive…albeit we should all be utilizing folders.
  • more sleep will help you re-charge…notwithstanding that nighttime is the best time of day to work without interruptions…which is why truly successful people take naps.

There is no easy fix to increase your productivity, except one – discipline. Imagine how much you can accomplish with a little more self-discipline. If you were to say “no” when a co-worker invites you to a three-hour lunch, how much more could you get done? What if you limited your Candy Crush games per day? Or only binge-watched two episodes of Breaking Bad tonight?

This may sound overly simplistic, but that’s because it is. I don’t need to know how the most successful CEOs/entrepreneurs/thought leaders/World Cup finalists maximize their time. I only need to know what I must get done and practice the discipline to do it.

To help me be productive, I rely on the Wunderlist app. You know what, who cares? Just because it helps me doesn’t mean it will do anything for you. After all, why would I suggest another smartphone app to help you be more productive when you aren’t using the ones that are already on your phone?

In the end, I’m only using a high-tech to-do list. And it does me no good unless I’m disciplined about putting tasks on the list and crossing off the tasks I complete. Like every other tool, the day I don’t maintain this list is the day it’s no longer helping me be productive.

It doesn’t matter how you organize your tasks or establish your routine. Decide what you need to do to be most productive and remain disciplined to sustain it. The alternative is to keep reading lists of ways to be more productive, most of which will include procrastination as a habit to avoid. What a coincidence, you’re reading that list so you can procrastinate from being productive.

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