The last three years have been huge for me. I’ve got more things done than ever, moved countries, bought an appartment and a small office building, spent loads of time with my family and friends, kept a healthy lifestyle, and exercised at least 4 times a week.
Many variables determine your overall productivity. Tools, apps, or hacks, don’t work if you lack the right mindset because productivity is a way of living.
It’s about achieving maximum output, getting shit done, and not wasting time. I think that output and happiness go hand in hand. To me, doing nothing equals misery.
I want to share 20 things I’ve done in the past three years that have made me more productive than ever (in no particular order).
- Always Cut To The Chase
With everything in life, there’s a bunch of crap, and there’s stuff that matters. Chit chat, small talk, delaying, waiting around, not speaking up, is all useless. If you want to get shit done, you have to jump straight into the action.
- Record All Your Thoughts And Ideas
Similar to computers, we have a Random Access Memory (RAM). Your human RAM stores relevant short-term information. But your RAM capacity is limited. When it’s full, older information that you have stored will be deleted to make room for new information. You want to write down your thoughts to unload your RAM, which gives you more brainpower. Even if you never take a look at that note again, it’s still worth it.
- Say No More Often
When it comes to work, I say no to everything that doesn’t support my goals and values. We live in an abundant world — there are always enough opportunities. In my personal life, I say no to everything that doesn’t thrill me. When I think ‘meh’ about something, I always say NO. That eliminates wasting time on shit that I’m not excited about.
- Take A 5 Minute Break Every 30 To 45 Minutes
You can stretch your back, walk around, drink some water. But more importantly, you take your nose out of your work. When you come back to your desk, you might have new ideas. Or, you might think: “WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?” And stop it before you waste all your time.
- Eliminate Everything That Distracts You
Willpower is overrated. If something distracts you, eliminate it. One of my friends has a news addiction. I suggested to get rid of his tv, delete his news apps, and block the news sites on his laptop. Two weeks later he told me that he’s finally starting a business. Don’t think you’re immune to your distractions. Remove them.
- Keep Away Clutter
A cluttered life means a cluttered brain. And with a cluttered brain, you can’t get stuff done. I prefer a simple work and living environment. A desk, a laptop, and a notebook. Keep it simple. You don’t need any fluff.
- Focus On 1 Thing Some Days
If you have recurring tasks, try to do as much of the same thing on one day. I write 2–3 blog posts on 1 day, the other days of the week I use for my other projects and businesses. On my writing days I turn off my phone, and just write. Nothing else gets in the way.
- Stop Consuming So Much Information
You don’t need to read 5000 articles on productivity. If you find useful information, try it. Don’t search for more. More is not always better. You can only process so much of it. Stop consuming, start creating.
- Create Systems
Decisions fatigue your brain. And systems eliminate decisions. Which ultimately means more brainpower. Systems are not OCD — they are efficient. Use them.
- Don’t Multitask
When you juggle multiple things simultaneously, like; sending an email, texting a friend and checking your Facebook while you are in a meeting, you engage in context switching. In a research done by Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, it showed that it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. That’s a waste of useful time.
- Check Email Twice A Day
Every time you check your email, you get a rush of dopamine. I get it — checking email feels nice, and most of us are addicted. While dopamine may cause a rush, it also exhausts you. That is why you still feel tired at the end of the day while you have not been productive. To minimize that, turn off notifications, and check your email only twice a day on set times.
- No Smartphone During The First Hour Of Your Day
A smartphone’s primary function is to interrupt you. But don’t let other people or apps interrupt you during the first hour of your day. Take that first hour to think about the day ahead of you, read a book, enjoy your breakfast, coffee or tea.
- Plan The Next Day
Every night before I go to bed, I take 5 minutes to set my priorities (usually 3–4) for the next day. That makes me more focused when I wake up. I find that I waste time if I don’t do this practice. It’s cool to ‘go with the flow’. The only problem is: I don’t want to be a dog that mindlessly chases cars.
- Keep ‘Thinking’ To A Minimum
When people say: “I’m thinking.” They mean worrying by thinking. Don’t think too much. Just DO, and see what happens. If you like what you’re seeing, continue. If not, do something else.
- Exercise Daily
A few things are vital in life: Food, water, shelter, relationships, and exercise. Without this stuff you can’t function properly. Scientific research shows that regular exercise can make you happier, smarter, and more energetic.
- Laugh More
Laughing reduces stress. And if you want to keep up your productivity, you don’t want stress. So move the corners of your mouth upward as much as you can.
- Don’t Go To All Meetings
This is a tough one for people who work for corporations. Some companies have a meeting culture. People organize meetings just to look important or procrastinate real work. For goodness sake, PLEASE STOP the useless talking.
- Is That Really Necessary?
Ask yourself that question as often as you can. You will find that your answer is often: Nope. So why do unnecessary things?
- If You’re Having A Shitty Day, Press Reset
You might screw up. Maybe someone gets angry with you — shit happens. Don’t get down about it. Take some time alone, meditate, listen to music, or go for a walk. Try to get back on track — don’t let your day go to waste.
- Do The Work—Consistently
Yes, talking about work is easier than doing it. Everyone can do it. But you’re not everyone, right? You’re a productivity beast. So act like one. Every. Single. Day.
Without these 20 things, I wouldn’t be productive at all. You may have noticed that I don’t get into details, like which tools and apps I use (you can learn more about the tools I use here).
Those things matter, but tools are not the determining factor. It’s about creating a productivity mindset and environment that lets you thrive.
I only care about getting things done in a fun and not stressful way. That makes doing work way more fun and rewarding. Two things you can never get enough of.