In this episode of The Productivity Podcast, I’m going to deconstruct what productivity does for you, in terms of the skills you’ll learn and the outcomes it creates. I’ll then give you 10 practical examples of things that benefit from increased productivity!
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Do you want to be a superhuman? Or, put another way, do you want to be the kind of person who achieves everything they set their mind to and makes it look easy? I know what my answer is.
I’m big into self-improvement and among all its topics (health, motivation, leadership etc…), I find productivity one of the most fascinating and useful to skills to practice. But why?
The way I see it, no matter what your goals are, no matter where you’re trying to get in life or what you’re trying to accomplish, productivity is the vehicle you use to get there. By being more effective and efficient with how you approach and tackle your goals, you can accomplish them quicker, you can get more out of life and this brings about greater happiness and satisfaction.
I really want to drive this home:
No matter what you’re trying to do in life, increased productivity will help you get it!
Let's take a look at what productivity can do for you. Here we go…
WHAT PRODUCTIVITY DOES FOR YOU
Do Things Better (Effectiveness)
If you’ve completed my 7-Day Productivity Plan, you’ll understand that productivity is a combination of effectiveness and efficiency.
Effectiveness is all about focusing on the right tasks that are going to help you reach some desired outcome or goal. It’s important to recognise that a lot of the things we think we need to do aren’t actually helping us reach our goals. Think about losing weight; you can spend all the time in the world researching weight loss, reading articles, you can buy some running shoes and restock your pantry with vegetables. But unless you actually go for a walk or cook a healthy meal you’re not going to be any better off.
The other thing I find funny is when someone starting a new business focuses on things like: coming up with a company name, designing a logo and printing business cards. Take a second – do these things actually make you money? NO! Why aren’t you focusing on designing a product or service that actually helps people? Or why aren’t you talking to potential customers to learn about who they are and what their needs are?
No matter what your goals are, there are going to be tasks that are worth spending more time on than others as these things get you to where you want to be. When facing a big to-do list of jobs, ask yourself for each item:
1) “If this was the only thing I achieved today, would I be happy with how I spent my time?”
2) “Does this task make others redundant or easier?”.
When you can answer “yes” to a both of these questions for a given task, do that thing (credit to Tim Ferriss for this tip).
Do Things Faster (Efficiency)
If effectiveness is doing the right work, efficiency is doing the work right. i.e. you’ve identified which tasks are the most important and what things you need to do to reach your goal. Now it’s time to execute and actually do them. How much time it takes to complete these tasks is up to you.
I like sailing, so I’m going to use a sailing metaphor to explain this one: First you decide where you want to sail to (this is your goal). However this might mean you have to sail round an island and of course you can’t sail directly into the wind. So you work out the best way to get to your destination in the shortest amount of time and decide to sail in a specific direction (effectiveness). Finally, when you’re sailing the right way, you can choose between a number of sails on the boat which all have a different impact on your speed. Choosing the right sails is going to maximise your speed (efficiency).
A lot of people jump straight to efficiency and think that if they can cram more “stuff” into their day then they are being productive. This is plain WRONG. You must first work out what work you should be doing and which tasks are going to contribute the biggest steps towards your goal. Don’t have a goal? Then stop worrying about being efficient and get clear on what it is you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t, all that’s going to happen is you’re going to work on the wrong things quickly. When you’ve defined what the right work is, then you can come back to efficiency and say “no” to anything that isn’t going to get you to where you want to be.
By being more productive and organising your workload you’ll naturally find a “space of flow” to work from and stress decreases. When I’m feeling overwhelmed and I can see my workload is building up, one of the first things I do is get organised. By defining all my tasks and due dates in one place and then scheduling time for them all on my calendar my stress dramatically decreases. Getting everything into a “system” like this means you don’t have to keep things in your head and you don’t have to worry about remembering to do them. You literally make time to come back to these important tasks and you can look at your calendar and see that there is enough time to do everything you need to get done.
When you manage stress effectively you become a happier person and enjoy your work more – who wouldn’t want this?
Gets You to Where You Want to Be. Fast.
No matter what your goals are, productivity is the vehicle you can use to reach them quickly. So if you want to ace your exams, dominate at work, build a business, write a book, start a podcast or just spend more time with your family, productivity is the skill that allows you to do these things efficiently and effectively.
Think about it – if you fluff around with tasks that don’t matter or you work on the right things but get distracted and procrastinate then it’s going to take you perhaps double, triple or longer the amount of time to reach your goals. And that’s time you will NEVER get back. That’s time you could have spent hanging out with friends, walking the dog, reading or working on other goals. It’s a massive opportunity cost.
Okay, so you’re mega productive and exceed your goals and a short amount of time. Awesome! Chances are, when you do this, you’re going to be pretty happy with yourself.
When I finished my first half marathon in 1:29:55 I was, I was happy.
When I bought my first house after 3 months searching the Auckland housing market, I was happy.
When I proposed to my girlfriend and 6 months later we were married I was very happy!
For people like you and me who are driven by goals and like the idea of achievement, the more goals you can reach, the happier you’ll be. Productivity will get you there faster.
Help Others Achieve More
There’s something incredibly rewarding about helping others. We are social animals and nature has programmed us to feel good when we help others so that we do it more. Nature like this because in doing so, we help our species survive and grow.
By being more productive, you can channel your increased effectiveness and efficiency into helping other people to achieve their goals. Trust me when I say that this feels awesome!
I ask everyone who signs up to the 7-Day Productivity Plan to email me with answering to a couple of questions. My goal is to find out about their needs so that I can help them. I receive really awesome emails from people telling me how much they’ve enjoyed my course and this feels amazing. Knowing that I’m doing something to help someone achieve their goals is one of the most rewarding things I can think of.
10 PRACTICAL THINGS THAT BENEFIT FROM INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
1. Build Your Business
This is an obvious one and something I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. Building my website and business is one of my top priorities at the moment. Because I work full time, productivity is really important to me as it allows me to maximise how much I get done in my spare time. If you’re like me, you’ll know how tough it is growing a side-business and how important your time is.
2. Write a Book
Writing a book and self-publishing is something more and more people are doing. It’s no easy process and takes time, patience and persistence to create something amazing. By being more effective and efficient you can create something truly special and valuable in a short period of time.
3. Improve Your Health
Health is really important, not just for your general well-being, but for increased productivity as well. It’s ironic, by looking after your health you can be more productive and by being more productive you can look after your health. For example, I like planning workouts and runs into my weekly routine. I also like to ensure I get plenty of sleep to sustain my energy. I view these sorts of things as an investment into my health which I’ll get paid back in increased productivity later.
4. Start a Blog
I think everyone can benefit from starting a blog. Everyone has a passion and ideas to share. The act of writing is also a great way of learning how to communicate more effectively and I find it highly enjoyable. If you’re interested in starting a blog, I encourage you to be as productive as you can be by planning your content, planning time for writing and working out who you’re targeting and how you can help them. By thinking about these sorts of questions you can produce better quality content (effectiveness) and reach more people (efficiency).
5. DIY Projects at Home
We all have lots on and home projects are an ongoing thing at our place. We’re constantly planning new rooms to renovate and trying new things. I’m a big fan of planning my weekend and this really helps to ensure we have time to do everything we want round the house while still having time for leisure and website projects.
6. Become a Better Swimmer, Football Player, Skateboarder
If you’re a sporty person and productivity can play a massive role in your approach to the sport and your skill set. In The 4-Hour Chef, author Tim Ferriss using the 80/20 principle and deconstruction principles to break sports apart and work out how he can learn them as fast as possible. Questions like: “what are the smallest changes I can make that are going to have the biggest impact on my performance?” (80/20 principal) allow you to learn any new skill far quicker than you might expect. By working out what the common pitfalls are and the common traits among the worlds top performers you can fast track the learning of any new skill.
7. Ace That Assignment
Got a 4,000 word essay to write in 2 weeks? By taking a productive approach to essay writing you can nail it in no time. I used to allocate blocks of time on my calendar for writing each paragraph and redrafting. This allowed me to work out exactly when I was going to complete each of the essential steps that I needed to do to complete my essay. I came to realise the importance of research and started spending more and more time in the research and planning phase. By being as effective as possible and allocating more time for research I was able to produce higher quality outcome.
8. Read More Books
Reading is one of the most common traits among the worlds top-performers and high successful people. As someone who’s obsessed with the idea of self-improvement, I read a lot of self help and business books. By becoming a more productive reader you will start to get more out of every book (as you become a more effective reader) and read them quicker (as you become a more efficient reader). In doing so, you can read more books every month, become smarter and learn more.
9. Do More of What You Love
When you’re more productive in your daily life you’ll have more time left over for the other things that matter. Want to go on the Playstation? Watch a TV show without feeling guilty? Do nothing? These things are important and I make sure I leave enough white space on my calendar for these sorts of things. The white space which is left over between or after events I view as “guilt free” time where I can do anything I want without feeling guilty about not being productive. Generally this guilt free time is in the evening after I’ve worked hard all day, so I can rest easy knowing I’ve achieved a lot with my day.
10. Spend More Time with the People that Matter
Spending time with the people that matter is an essential part of any routine. Happiness is one of my most important values and if I’m working all the time without seeing my friends and family, this isn’t going to contribute to my happiness. Don’t become a work aholic! I see it a lot where I work; people staying later than they need to and sacrificing their personal time for work. Yes work is important and I work hard to ensure I meet my goals within a normal 8 hour day. I find that if you can’t get everything you need to do done in normal hours then it’s likely that you’re not prioritising your time enough. Remember, being busy is a form of laziness. It’s lazy thinking and an inability to prioritise. Don’t be lazy at work!
There you have it people! By reading this I hope you can see how productivity really is a super human skill. There are tonnes of skills you can learn to be smarter, but productivity really is one of the most important skills you can master. It will have an impact on every area of your life and improve your sense of achievement and happiness.
If your’e not getting to where you want to be in life, consider taking a different approach to get there. Invest in yourself and spend some time learning how to be more productive. Download my 7-Day Productivity Plan eBook to get started and learn how to master your time.
Have a productive day,