If you are here, you are probably wondering how to be more productive. You probably don't want to hear the generic advice on writing a todo list or deleting social media apps. You are actually looking for actionable advice on becoming more productive.
To me, creating a productivity habit and routine is one of the most important things for your personal development. It will change your life.
Imagine being able to accomplish everything important to you and have time leftover to enjoy your life. This does not have to be a dream. This can be your reality if you are willing to apply these principles to your life.
Principles to Be More Productive
1. Do important things first
Let's be honest. The average person is really good at procrastinating. Some people just can't seem to stop procrastinating. The reason people lack focus is that they haven't oriented their priorities. Fix that by adapting the Eisenhower Grid:
Once you've prioritized these items, set goals based on the top left quartile of items that are both high urgent and important to you. Take care of these right away. This will help you spend your time more effectively and remain the nagging anxiety that you still need to tackle your urgent and important tasks.
2. Stop multitasking
As technology has improved, multitasking has become highly prevalent in today's world. Multitasking has been found to:
reduce efficient mental performance
reduce focus and concentration
create stress and anxiety
Stop multitasking today. It does not save time. The amount of time savings is marginal compared to the negative impacts it has on you mental wellbeing.
Instead, focus on one goal at a time. Break your goals into reasonable chunks that you can tackle one at a time. This will help you reduce overwhelm and become a more productive person.
3. Optimize your space for success
One of the things I learned at working in factories at Boeing was that an organized workspace was an effective workspace. All the tools were labeled, placed within arms length to where they were working. These factories abide by the LEAN principles:
Define value: understand what the customer (you) value is.
Map the value stream: identify all the value-added and nonvalue added steps in your process currently. Remove the nonvalue-added steps.
Create flow: ensure that the new flow is running smoothly and without delays.
Establish pull: make sure what you need is there when you need it.
Pursue perfection: continue to iterate to improve the process.
Let's take the example of personal health in the perspective of LEAN. If we spend a lot of time looking for our shoes before a run, maybe that could discourage us from actually running. An easy optimization is just leaving the shoes by your door so you can get into the habit of running easier.
Whatever the process is, see what are some nonvalue-added steps you currently spend time on, and optimize your space to work in your favor.
4. Automate your life
This is by far my favorite productivity tip. Automate any and every process that you can possible automate.
Productive people are often deemed productive because they don't waste time doing repetitive tasks. They find tools and automations to make their life easier.
A good example of this is using autopay for paying your bills (your credit score will thank you, if you're a forgetful person).
Convenience is a beautiful thing. There are millions of automations that are accessible to us today on our smartphones. Automation lets you focus on what really matters, and lets technology handle the other things for you.
5. Outsource tasks
Sometimes, the task you need to accomplish is not within your skillset, not a passion of yours, and not fully automated yet. Instead of choosing to spend your time drudging through it in misery, you can outsource the task to someone else.
For example, if you don't want to go to the store to pick up groceries, use Instacart to get it delivered. Or if you don't want to drive, take a Lyft to get your places without the stress. There are also websites like Upwork that allow you to hire contractors for more specialized tasks.
Free up your time to focus on the important tasks at hand. Hire someone else to take care of the things you can't/don't want to do.
6. Create consistent routines
Successful people have consistent routines that help you get focused faster. For example, Jeff Bezos of Amazon takes his most important meetings at 10AM. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook famously wears the same outfit to work everyday.
Getting started with a consistent routine might be challenging at first. You might need accountability partners to hold you accountable. You might need to better your time management to schedule around your productive hours. Whatever it is that works for you, set up your routine so you can maximize your output to win everyday.
7. Practice mindfulness and reflection
Mindfulness is important. Tony Robbins famous said: "energy flows where attention goes". Start and end your day by focusing on the blessings and learning to let go of all the perceived bad of the world. Spend less time in bitterness over events that are transient.
Instead, start focusing on all the positive things that you currently have. Focus on gratitude. Start telling yourself that the future has something better in store for you. And be thankful for all the people that helped you today.
8. Make your health a priority
The importance of this principle cannot be understated. Without your health, you cannot live a life of your maximum potential.
We often sacrifice an hour of sleep to watch Netflix. Or we eat a little bit too much junk food. These choices add up over time. Eventually we are left to wonder why our bodies aren't holding up well anymore.
Please take the time to take care of your body. It is your only one in your life, and it needs to hold up for a very long time. Make the proper investment so you can be performing at your highest levels.
9. Start a meeting with an agenda and objectives
I honestly believe that some people hold meetings just to hear their own voice. Poorly planned meetings are a drain on your mental resources. Always start any business meeting by asking "what's the objective we are trying to achieve here?"
When people identify with the objectives, the meeting instantly becomes much more efficient. You often see that issues and outcomes get resolved much faster.
10. Create a plan for execution
Never jump into any task without a plan for execution. Remember your 6Ps: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. The fastest way to fail is to jump into a complex task without a plan for finishing it. Just the simple act of understanding all the facts, and formulating a good strategy decreases the time you spend down the road being lost in the forest.
People often ask me "How do I become more productive?" The answer is always simple: start by identifying what's most important to you, and take a single-minded focus towards the execution of those tasks every single day. As long as you are focused, healthy, and clever, you will find a way to make life easier for yourself. Practice the principles laid out in this article and you will start on your journey towards higher productivity!