Productivity is one of the hottest topics you can stumble across on the internet. Hundreds of articles, videos and books have been written on the subject and I’ve probably read or watched them all over the last 3 years.
When it comes to the topic of productivity and getting a full day work done in half the time, I’ve become somewhat of a specialist.
Not to boast or to sell myself as some super productive wizard but I write upwards of 5000 words in total every day, lift heavy weights, fit in an extra session of cardio, deal with my email marketing plans, consult clients, design book covers, blog and run errands in no more than 8 hours.
As much as I love to work and make money, time spent with my family is non-negotiable.
If I can’t fit in at least 2 hours of downtime, my mood takes a terrible turn and I struggle to focus on being creative.
I’ve indulged myself in every kind of productivity technique known to man and I want to share a bunch of techniques that have transformed the way I work and doubled results.
Before we dig any deeper, let’s go over a small pact I want you to make with yourself.
Promise that you will take action on the techniques in this post and avoid getting sucked into an endless search for productivity secrets.
I’ve wasted precious time studying about productivity in the past rather than putting the techniques I learned into effect. The most results in life come from the moments you take action. I want you to succeed and get as much done in a sustainable fashion.
So, do you promise to take action after reading this post?
If so, I want you to drop me an email and let me know that you’re committed to accomplishing your goals along with what those goals are.
With that being said, let’s kick off this ultimate productivity guide for 2018!
Interval Work Sessions – The Superset Pomodoro Technique
The basic technique of working for 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break is popularly known by now.
I won’t waste your time explaining something you’ve probably read on a dozen websites by now.
However, it’s not a fixed technique. 25 minutes is a good amount of time to focus but I feel like my brain starts to kick into overdrive when I conduct 35-minute sessions. We live in a time of constant distractions and that has caught up with me.
The constant need to check Whatsapp or my emails has absolutely destroyed my concentration levels so it took me some time to overcome that obstacle.
Now that I have, I don’t want to reduce the amount of time my brain can be fixed on what activity.
A simple extension of the Pomodoro technique solves all my problems.
My wordcounts have exploded ever since I bounced each session up by 10 – 15 minutes!
Here’s what 4 of my Pomodoro cycles look like:
- Cycle 1: 45 minute work -> 10 minute break
- Cycle 2: 35 minute work -> 8 minute break
- Cycle 3: 30 minute work -> 6 minute break
- Cycle 4: 25 minute work -> 25 minute break
I observed something interesting that led me to this flexible system. Bodybuilders conduct a form of working out known as supersets.
They start by lifting a fairly light amount of weight with the largest rep count and as they increase the weight, they reduce the number of reps.
As far as possible, they take little to no breaks during a superset and many fitness enthusiasts praise this system for its effectiveness because the muscle is in a constant state of increased torque and stress.
I wanted to incorporate supersets into work sessions and designed my Pomodoro cycles as mentioned above.
During the first session, my thoughts are usually clustered and my performance isn’t as solid as I’d like it to be (bleh).
However, the more I work, the easier it feels. I can start writing at a faster pace and thoughts on a specific topic flow easier than when I started!
Just because I’m decreasing the time spent per sessions doesn’t mean that my performance slows.
On the contrary, I get just as much if not more work done as the intervals shorten. I get bored so easily! I’m like a child that is allergic to monotony.
But, then again, most people are. Rather than failing to get things done because I’m incapable of maintaining a standard pace, I may as well push myself to work harder in decreasing intervals.
All’s well and ends well. A great side effect of implementing this system is the number of words I can write in a period of 30 minutes.
Not only do I get faster during each session but I’ve noticed my overall speed of typing and writing has increased by a substantial amount.
The first time I was able to write about 2000 words in four sessions but now I easily hit +-3500 words!
That’s a huge improvement from what I’m used to!
The 2 Minute Rule – The Time For Excuses Are Over
Anyone familiar with Nerdfitness.com? I love that site and have been reading Steve’s work for the better half of 3 years.
He’s written on a foray of topics but it’s usually the way he conducts himself professionally that attracts my subscription the most (even though it’s a site about health and fitness :p)!
I came across the 2-minute rule from Steve so I’ll just direct all credit towards him. I’m sure he’s done the same for the person who he learned this nifty little trick from.
The 2-minute rule is pretty darn simple – If you can do something within the next 2 minutes, do it now. Simple!
By procrastinating and putting it off for later, you’re wasting time by waiting to tackle it. Whether you do it now or later, it has to be done.
Doing it now saves you time from actually trying to convince yourself it’s okay to wait until later to do it.
You know what I’m talking about, right?
The dishes are in the sink and you have to do it but somehow you convince yourself to tackle it later when you feel like it. You waste about a minute or two thinking about a reasonable excuse for postponing it whereas it could be completed in the exact same time!
Something that would ordinarily take you 2 minutes to complete now takes you 4 minutes because you wasted those 2 minutes earlier thinking about a reason why you didn’t want to do it then.
If it’s a small task and objectively you can finish it in about 2 minutes, do it now!
You know that you have to subscribe to my blog so why wait until later, get it over with and do it now.
You’ll save yourself 2 minutes by doing so and I’ll gift you with my popular 30 ways to be more productive in 30 minutes ebook because I’m such a nice guy! 😉
Scrapping The To-Do List And Breaking Out The Essential List
Ah! To-do lists.
We meet again, my old friend. For most of my schooling life, I was far too lazy to make to-do lists. I liked to wing it, as I’d say to my mother.
It was only when I hit my twenties when it dawned on me that winging it doesn’t really work in the real world.
Systems and structures are what the business world thrives on.
In all it’s flexibility and unorthodox results, there’s always a system for how things are done.
To-do lists seemed to be a popular way of being productive so I figured it was time to finally give it a try. For quite some time, my to-do list journey was a success. I’d pack it up with about 10 – 15 things every single day and get most of it done.
I felt incredibly productive but the results were dismal. I wasn’t making enough money nor was I seeing much growth.
The real danger with to-do lists comes down to how you use or abuse them. Let’s be honest for a moment, most of us a lazy as hell. We’ll opt for the easy way out, even when we want to be productive.
So, we’ll pile on a list of tasks that are unessential but effective at making us feel productive. There’s a huge difference between being busy and being productive.
Spending an hour on Facebook is an easy way of being busy.
Time is being used towards something. That’s busyness.
Spending an hour cold calling clients or gathering new leads for your online business is a way of being productive.
Was I wasting time with my to-do lists? Yes!
Was I keeping busy with tasks that led me not a step closer to achieving my goals? Yes!
Talk about a double whammy!
Here’s what I changed my list too – an essential list. What are the top 3 – 5 things you need to do in order to achieve your goals?
Those are your only tasks for the day and deserve precedence over everything else.
Getting six pack abs is my fitness goal which is a 6/10 on my essential goal list, whereas building a 6 figure business as a writer is my career goal which is a 10/10.
It’s my main goal in life. So, no longer was I dedicating most of my time and energy towards exercising rather than writing.
Most of my time now revolves around my business goals and when I’ve completed everything I need to do as a writer, then I move onto my fitness goal.
Just an hour at the end of my day is spent exercising.
I’m still pursuing my fitness goals and making daily progress but not at the cost of my most important goal!
This is my essential list:
- Write 5000 Words Minimum.
- Consult And Acquire Clients.
- Exercise For About 35 – 40 minutes.
- Respond To Emails.
That’s it! When I’ve done all four of these essential tasks, then I consider tackling other unessential tasks.
I want you to compile a list of essential tasks that can bring about the most results in your life.
Give them priority and never compromise on completion of these tasks.
If You Don’t, Someone Else Will
I’m going to move onto a psychological technique that may possibly light a fire under your ass (it lit one under mine!).
When it comes to owning up to my mistakes, I don’t shy away from it. My folks always held me accountable for my actions in the past and even if I tried to evade getting caught, they somehow always found out (psychic? maybe).
2016 was a good year for me.
Financially, physically, psychologically and academically, I succeeded in many aspects of my life. However, one of the biggest failures of 2016 was not pursuing my dream of being a full-time writer. I dabbled. I wasted time.
And, I failed to show up.
Nothing in this world comes easy and great success comes to those who show up to put in the work.
Showing up means making your intentions known to the world and pitching up day after day to try and succeed. I was trying to do things from the shadows and it was an awful way to operate.
In attempting to shield myself from exposure if I failed, I created a bubble of comfort that prevented me from taking necessary leaps. 2016 was a year I should have dedicated to my craft but I did not.
I own it and I’ve learnt my lesson after discovering someone who started after me, who succeeded and kicked my ass.
That was the greatest wakeup call I’ve ever received!
He didn’t possess any natural born gifts that set him and me apart.
The only difference between the two of us was his commitment to show up and put in the work.
He succeeded and I failed.
It pissed me off. I pissed myself off.
Kudos to the individual who succeeded, he deserved it. At that point, I clearly did not. I learnt a truly valuable lesson from that experience – If you don’t, someone else will.
Success doesn’t wait for anyone; neither do your dreams.
The rat race is real and everyone is competing for the top spot. You and I cannot afford to be complacent, especially in the early stages of growth.
If you put in the work to become number 1, you will become number 1.
Nothing else matters.
Forget about secret recipes and shortcuts to success. Take blogging for instance, almost everyone has a blog these days.
Countless newbie bloggers read an article about someone earning a couple thousand dollars and they get super excited.
They want to replicate that success but without putting in the same, if not more, work than that successful blogger.
You won’t succeed if that’s the mindset you’re working with. I’m taking the approach of becoming the most relatable and practical blogger on the web. I want to bring long, in-depth and insightful content to all my readers.
I’ll hustle, seek out opportunities, market like a madman and produce content better than anything else you’ve seen on the net.
That’s my goal for this blog. I want you to be waiting eagerly for an email update notifying you of a new article because what I write is phenomenal and it makes a difference in your life.
Look, I’m not trying to put a dampener on your day but there’s someone else gunning to beat you.
Rather than accepting that and letting yourself fall behind, why don’t you get the hell up and start cranking out hard work like you’ve never done so before?
I always say this to myself at the beginning of each day – Actions Create Results.
If I don’t create some form of results in my essential goals, I fail. Let’s show up and show the world what we are made of! Sparta!!!!
Do What You Can While Learning What You Can’t Do Yet
Boom! Best headline ever!
Whenever I engage with someone who is depressed and hasn’t succeeded, one of the common things they always complain about is ignorance or lack of resources.
They make excuses for why they haven’t tried.
For example, I can’t exercise yet because I don’t know how to do calisthenics or I can’t write a book because I don’t how to structure it.
These are legit problems.
Sure, but they’re useless excuses! If you don’t have the tools, make do with what you have.
If you can’t afford a gym membership, create a circuit of bodyweight exercises that are simple and require no monetary investment from you. You know how to run, right? What about jumping jacks? Or squats and lunges?
These are basic moves that even kids know about and they can easily be used to create a workout system. Oh, you don’t know how to structure a book? GOOGLE IT!
Instead of spending all that time reading about who Taylor Swift is dating now or what Zac Efron does to look so ripped, why don’t you learn something that could enable you to take action on your goals!
(I feel like RobertFrank615 shouting hardcore shit at you LOL) There will always be circumstances and problems standing in your way.
You simply have to work around them. I remember a time when I couldn’t type because the joints in my hands were completely destroyed.
Rather than allow it to destroy me, I decided to find alternate ways to get the job done. I broke out the microphone, grabbed a copy of dragon and spoke my words onto paper.
It was uncomfortable at first and there were a few learning hurdles to overcome but I managed to write while figuring out how to use the program.
Perhaps I’ve finally become a list kind of guy but I tend to make a list of things I need to learn and an accompanying list of things I CAN do.
Give it a try.
Buffer Days And How To Use Them
All work and no play? That doesn’t sound good to me. I value my free time and I genuinely believe a social life is critical to an overall healthy lifestyle.
With that being said, buffer days add a well-deserved day to break up a string of work days.
Here’s the thing, I could work 7 days a week but it often leads to burnout which takes me about a week to fix (it truly sucks!).
So, I’ve restructured my week around buffer days. I work from Sunday to Tuesday, Wednesday is a buffer day and then I resume work from Thursday to Saturday afternoon.
Mid-week buffer days help me unwind after 3 days of consistently working like crazy, the change in scenery and routine prevents boredom from spoiling my routine and the break often rejuvenates my mind before it reaches a state of burnout.
Buffer days are meant to be fun, relaxing, therapeutic and all about you.
Buffer days can even appear on the weekend after 5 days of consistent work but the principle behind this technique is built on detaching yourself from all things work related. It’s a day when you forget your worries and stresses in life.
You can do anything your heart desires without feeling guilty.
A good buddy of mines uses his buffer days to go surfing at the beach whereas I find myself gardening and meeting friends at the mall.
Do something fun that reminds you of why you’re working so hard to achieve big things.
Let’s see if you battle with a lack of motivation after that! 😉
Sacrifice – There’s No Way Around It
How easy life would be if we could do everything our heart desires without an issue in the world.
I’d be a practicing lawyer, full time writer, skydiver, athlete, painter, nomad, marathon runner and cage fighter (okay, maybe not a cage fighter).
Time is fleeting.
24 hours is never enough. Heck, almost 50% of our time is spent sleeping, we only have about 12 hours to play around with.
Sacrifice, as I’ve come to learn, goes hand in hand with time management. I get bored super easily and my mind wonders from idea to idea.
Shiny object syndrome has often screwed me over and resulted in many potentially great projects failing. At some point or another, you have to make a conscious decision of what activities and ideas aren’t feasible or functional to pursue.
As much as I would love to be a proper athlete, I don’t have the time or the commitment to pursue such a goal.
Most of my grit and energy is directed towards writing large amounts of words every single day.
If I redirect that energy and attention towards training like an athlete, my biggest dream would pay the ultimate price.
Right now, I can’t afford to give up hours every day to training. So, I’m putting that goal or idea at the back of my mind. It’s not an easy thing to do.
I love health and fitness but I love writing more. I’m at that point in life where I cannot afford to do everything and anything at the same time.
Multitasking is a fool’s errand and it is the least effective productivity technique to grace the world.
Attention and focus ought not to and should not be divided between multiple tasks at the same time.
Quality and results suffer from such a ludicrous way of working.
Focus and dedication to a small and specific number of goals unlock the doors to productivity.
As an author, I could easily divide my time amongst a 100 different things.
Social networking, book marketing, keyword research, writing, designing covers, seeking out book deals, editing, copywriting, freelance writing, blogging, guest blogging, publishing videos, courses, podcasts and even more.
But, I’ll get burnt out and most probably achieve ridiculously demotivating results. I’m not built for multitasking and I believe most people aren’t.
3 – 5 goals per quarter of the year is the sweet spot for most people.
In 8 hours a day, I can easily write 5000 words, exercise for a bit and design covers. These 3 activities bring about most of the substantial results in my life and I’m finally happy with the progress I’m making.
Before, I’d dip my feet in a 100 different things and fail at 99 of them.
The one thing that I may succeed in was usually something unimportant. Sigh!
From your list of 10 or 100 things to Do, Be or Become for 2017, cut that list down to 3 items per quarter or half of the year.
Dedicate all your attention towards those goals and sacrifice time-consuming activities that are neither rejuvenating nor progressive in nature.
In other words, drop all those 15 shows you watch on a weekly basis for multiple hours at a time to just 3 – 4 shows (No more Arrow for me!).
Develop An Addiction For Completion
Yes! We’ve made it to the last section of this article. Hang with me for just another minute as I share the last piece of the puzzle.
Productivity is actually a path to success. My goal on a daily basis isn’t to be productive, it’s to be successful. Productive behavior is just a tool used to reach a state of success. Success, as you may very well be aware, is dependent largely on completion.
An athlete who never crosses the finish line can never be first in a race.
A writer who never completes his book isn’t an author until he does.
A recipe is never complete until it has been prepared. Completion creates results. Trust me, you’ll feel fantastic when you put an end to a goal.
That rush of dopamine is unlike anything else you will ever feel.
Not to forget the number of rewards attached to a job well done. Abandon the mindset of being busy and dedicate you every waking moment to completing tasks.
Are you familiar with the cumulative effect?
Okay, in case you aren’t, let me quickly explain. Results can be invisible at first. An individual who works out for the first time isn’t going to notice any visible results.
The result of his workout is invisible. If, however, he continues to workout for a couple of weeks, all the small results he achieves on a daily basis begins to add up/accumulate until they become a visible result. Boom!
He or she loses weight and looks visibly leaner!
For every completed action, you are adding new layers of results one on top of the other.
After some time, all those results are definitely going to accumulate and present a visible result that blows your mind.
While everyone is running around aimlessly multitasking, you just focus on completing a set number of tasks like a boss. You’ll end up ahead of everyone else with this mindset!
That’s a wrap!
Get out of here now and get focused on your goals. I’ve kept you for long enough and you have all the tools needed to be productive.
Grab the techniques that will benefit you the most and start implementing them immediately. I want to see you succeed and work like never before.
Let’s put in the work to be the best!
What do you think of this article? Let me know in the comment section and I’ll share more productivity articles with you in the future.