The Only Answer You Need to Be Productive Forever

Here’s an honest truth — people don’t always act on what they learn.

I don’t.

You don’t.

It’s something I’ve realized is quite common among all of us. If there’s someone who disagrees with what I’ve said, then good chances are that you’ve found a liar.

I mean, you might read self-help books, increase your willpower or motivation to work harder and yet you’ll discover that you lack in many aspects.

The ‘tricks and tips’ don’t always work. Life often remains the same. You fail to create the change you wish to make. Your life becomes messy even when you try to create a daily plan or organize everything.

You read something, get inspired for a while and after an hour or so life becomes the same again.

You make certain decision, act on it for a few days, or weeks, until you quit one day.

I’m no different — I go through all this as well, less or more. In the end, we’re all humans.

Why all those ‘tips and tricks’ usually don’t work

I had written a book about designing an ideal schedule — I don’t follow a schedule, no matter how paradoxical that might sound.

Later on, I wrote ‘Pocket Productivity’ to simplify productivity for all — I don’t even implement all topics covered in that book in my life either.

Does this mean I’m a faker?

In a word — no.

Right now, if there’s something that matters the most to me, it’s being honest — to myself, to my readers and to the universe. I’m not giving a darn about other things.

So when I say that I don’t always use what I wrote, it simply means that I can’t always act on everything.

Plans fail, schedules go wrong and I know it well — that’s where I believe maturity lies. In knowing that you can’t control everything.

Yet, if you ask me more about what my opinion is regarding productivity or scheduling, most of what I say would be quite similar to what I’ve covered in my books or on my blog.

I wrote because I believed in those ideas. I still do. They’re worthy of attention.

I choose my topics only when I feel I have enough right things to share about something — however, another truth is that I know the limitations which exist to what I can do.

However, no matter how phenomenal or helpful is what I or others create, in the end those ideas won’t always work for you.

So why it is that such golden chunks of advice fail to bring a positive change in your life?

Because

You can’t do everything.

You read hundreds of articles, get a bunch of advice from others and discover that there’s a lot to change.

Who knows, if you use all that you learn, your life might even resemble a blissful heaven — but that’s far away from reality.

As it always turns out, you’re bound by some limitations — time, your lifestyle, resources and some other stuff. It affects you.

Even if you’re infallible at all that you do and can make life go the way you want, it isn’t fun either — life’s never meant to be a sort of calculated set of actions.

The parts of your life you worry about can be changed — though, not with the help of others or me.

The change you long for will occur, but not because of any external factor but you.

Here’s a simple truth — your answer

Find what works for you.

Period.

There are lots of people throwing all sorts of advice out there. The world is already chaotic and is enough to confuse you.

If you’re smart, you know that although the Internet is a great resource, it’s much like a loop — you can go around in circles, consume everything and yet fail to arrive on a satisfactory conclusion.

That’s how the world works — it can only tell what you should do or what might be right for you, but in the end it’s just you who has to decide.

Here’s a transcript from my favorite book, Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times by David Viscott –

“Others never have your real interests at heart because they really don’t know you. And if they did, why should they do for you what you won’t do for yourself?”

Blatantly honest — makes sense to me, and should probably make sense to you as well.

It’s fine when if ask others for advice. Yet the first piece of effort you put in should come from within.

What’s the point in walking on a road shown by others when you have no reason to take up a journey?

All the answers you seek outside yourself are already within you. Your instincts might not always point your towards the perfect direction and you might not be wise enough to understand life — but the truth is that you always know what’s right for you.

Maybe instead of asking others “what should I do?” you need to be asking yourself “what should I do?”

Following what others are doing and tracing their footsteps can be great, yet being a trailblazer at something is what can really satisfy you.

Sure there are gurus and mentors, but what separates them? What makes them wise?

  • They understand themselves.
  • They reflect on their life.
  • They take time to think what matters to them.

Do you? Why don’t you?

Think for yourself, question yourself and then answer your own question. That’ll teach you how to be wise and give you the clarity you seek in life.

So what can you do to give your life the meaning it deserves?

A lot.

Start with small things.

Take responsibility — you might not always succeed, but give your best to make what you want to happen a reality.

Don’t lie to yourself — those lies are what later turn into pains and regrets and become your weaknesses.

Take charge — everything requires you to do something. Do what it takes. You’re the only one who can rescue you.

Be good — nice intentions, the desire to be better, wishing to create a better future. These are what can become your strength. Hold on to them.

Keep developing — this would be enough. Keep getting better. It’ll always lead you to better things.

A few random things I do to be productive

Nope.

This isn’t going to be some form of advice. Just a few things I’m doing nowadays to bring a change. Some are rules, rest are simple ideas I’m abiding to.

1. Work-music integration

I always preferred silence.

Though, a few months ago I came across John Saddington’s post and thought about giving music a try while working and doing the chores — it worked for me.

John taught me how helpful music can be while working. He has a great playlist as well.

So nowadays, I let the speakers do their job by playing gaming music, dubstep, and some other stuff that keeps me going without disturbing me.

2. Setting milestones

1. Find something you want to achieve.

2. Do something to get what you achieve.

I do this even for simple things and prevents me from going astray. When I set some milestones, I know what I’m working for. That gives me enough reasons to work harder.

3. Keeping a daily quota

My day consists of tasks I want to complete.

I make a list which includes almost everything.

I create a list of things I want to do, either before I sleep or in the early morning and try to accomplish them within that particular day.

I don’t always make everything happen, but as long as something is included in my daily quota, I try to do it instead of spending my whole day planning and thinking.

4. Batching work and ideas

If there are any tiny chores I need to finish, I’ll try to do them at once instead of doing them individually.

That saves a lot of time.

Also, when I’m brainstorming ideas, making plans for upcoming activities or something else, I try finishing at once. The end.

One way I use to do that is keeping the next thing ready. For instance, I try to get my next task figured out before I finish the first one to make my next step clear.

5. Learning

I’ll learn all that matters to me.

Some days ago I started reading books and articles about financial management — I didn’t knew exactly how would that make me better, but that helped me to develop a responsible attitude towards money.

I don’t own a specific business yet, and yet I read a lot of business books — that taught me a lot and introduced me to some newer perspectives and helped me step a bit out of my shell.

Here’s what I keep telling myself — learning is never wasted.

So I try to learn regardless of how many reasons I have to do that. It always pays-off.

6. Staying in the company of gods

We all have our heroes.

If I’m interested in certain subject, then I try to learn from the people who have the expertise in it — and soon I become familiar with their thinking.

For instance, if I spend my time reading a book of certain author or watching the video of certain speaker, isn’t it like spending some time with him?

I learn as much as I can from the people the people whom I admire. To me, it’s almost like spending time with them.

And while consuming what they create — either in the form of articles, videos, advice or something — I feel like being in their company.

7. “Screw it!” policy

This means that nowadays I try to stick to the plan.

I have a bad habit of ruining my own plans and schedules.

If I’m supposed to sleep at 11, I write till 1.

If I decide to do certain task for only 30 minutes, then sometimes that extends to 40 or 50 minutes — until I have no time to do what I’m supposed to do next.

The problem is that it affects everything else in my life. There’s only one solution I could find to this problem — sticking to the plan.

No matter how alluring and important other tasks seem, no matter how strong that urge to ‘do it for some more time’ gets, I try to stick to the plan and quit when I need to.

“Screw it!” I say and quit whatever I’m doing.

8. Being an imperfectionist

Being a perfectionist is more of a problem than a quality.

When I work more, I get better.

Perfectionism is an obstacle that hinders me from doing anything. It’s hard to escape perfectionism, but continuing my work with it is even harder.

So I’m teaching myself to be careless. To not give a damn.

I learned it from Ramsay.

“Generally it’s better to spend time making new stuff than trying to get one thing perfect,” he once told me in an email. I have been following his advice since then.

Making typos in emails, having a bit of disorganization than usual, not having the workplace spick-and-span — I’m trying to become alright with these things.

9. A plain wallpaper

This might sound insignificant but I thought it’s worth mentioning.

I used to have lots of different wallpapers — Sea, Quotes, Calvin and Hobbes, Batman — I spent a lot of time thinking which ones distracted me and kept me in a good mood.

Finally, I realized that having a plain wallpaper on my laptop screen works the best for me — and yes, the color matters the most.

For me, it’s a solid shade of blue.

Hexadecimal value #00A99E, to be precise.

10. Thinking

I think a lot — partly because I become restless when I don’t.

Although doing this has opposite effect on me when I become too much involved in it, thinking occasionally about everything helps me clear my blurred thoughts.

I think about how well I’m working, what I can learn, etc.

When I don’t reflect occasionally on my life, I feel lost.

Now this might consist of introspection, and perhaps, a bit of meditation.

11. Organizing

I do it a lot.

I have lots of lists — To-Dos, goals, things I can do in my free time, things I wish to buy, etc.

Then I have a workplace with each thing sitting in the place assigned to it — neat and tidy.

I figure out my work and develop a system I can follow to be as effective as I can be at what I do.

I even organize the icons on my laptop screen to avoid searching for files and folders every time.

This might seem extreme to some extent, but staying organized is something I believe helps me stay on track and directly assists me in all other aspects of life.

It works magically!

Finally

These things are what have worked for me.

We all have lots of things common which determine the effectiveness of our work. Yet, your ideas might differ from mine in some ways. I hope you find what works the best for you.

Loved what you just read? Leave a comment maybe. That makes me happy.

About

I’m Vishal Ostwal. A writer, blogger and the kind of person whose name rhymes with his surname. Find me on my blog, say me “Hi!” on Facebook or join me on LinkedIn.

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