The Ultimate Productivity Formula

Productivity might be easiest and hardest thing in the world. That’s why I decided to put all the information I ever read about productivity into one comprehensive ultimate productivity formula.

If you’re looking for an article that would compile pretty much everything there is to know about productivity in post, you have found a right place.

Let’s dive deeper into the ultimate productivity formula, shall we?

The Ideal World

The truth is, productivity is fairly simple, in theory. Even if you have an overwhelming amount to do, the steps aren’t hard to figure out:

  1. Pick something important to work on (a task from your most important project, maybe?). What you pick doesn’t really matter, because you’ll get the rest of the stuff done soon enough.
  2. Focus exclusively on that task for a bit, finishing it if you can.
  3. Pick another important task after that, and repeat.

And obviously have life around those tasks, take breaks, socialize, eat, go to the gym, listen to music, go bungee jumping, ride a camel or whatever floats your boat.

ultimate productivity formula

The Real World

1. Pick something important to work on (a task from your most important project, perhaps). What you pick doesn’t really matter, because you’ll get the rest of the stuff done soon anyway.

2. Get a message with a link to a funny video

3. Share a video on Facebook News wall

4. Start reading Facebook News wall

5. Click on a sneezing panda video

6. Start reading Wikipedia to learn everything you can about pandas

7. Realize that it’s been already 5 minutes and your work looks less attractive then ever so you decide to wait until you feel like doing it

Can you relate to this?

The Ultimate Productivity Formula Defined

Some people would say that productivity is all about how busy or efficient we are, but from my experience that is not really the case cause we can be very busy with the wrong things and literally pour liters of our time in activities that don’t bring much ROI on our investment.

In my opinion it is more about how much we accomplish. And more then that, it’s about accomplishing the things that we intended to do in the first place.

Closing Gap Between Intention and Reality

So if we intend to have a relaxing day on the beach and just chill and recharge and we do. Well that was a perfectly productive day. The day that follows, you will be able to get more work done as you gave your brain a well deserved break. 

If you intend to have a really business like day and manage to produce desired results, in that case we are also perfectly productive. 

If we achieve what we intend to, we could consider ourselves perfectly productive and the best way to get there is to manage 3 ingredients of ultimate productivity formula that are: 

Productivity = The Management of Time, Attention, and Energy

The full title of Chris’ book is The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy – and the subtitle communicates Chris’ big, huge idea quite clearly.

Put simply, productivity is product of managing your:

  • Time
  • Attention
  • Energy

Managing this triad in a perfect balance is where the productivity is found, but time management usually gets disproportionate amount of attention from people who wish to harness the full power of their productive selves.

ultimate productivity formula

Back in The Day…

50 years a go, the reality of people’s lives was very different then ours and managing time was good enough metric to measure their productivity. Time management was the most important element of productivity back then.

During that time, vast majority of people worked in factories and farms and their daily tasks were mundane, repetitive and simple, and once they found themselves in a possession of a desired skill they could be done largely on autopilot once acquired.

Managing your attention and energy was not as important in an era where not many things are competing for your attention and all you have to do is to punch in do your job and punch out.

Today, rules have changed

Today, most of us have shifted to doing work that’s a lot more complex in the environment that is way more complex as well.

It also requires a lot more creativity, focus, and mental bandwith. Our environments are more distracting than ever, with constant stream of notification procrastination is easy and focus became harder to come by.

This shift in a way we work requires a shift in paradigms about the way we think of our work.

A lot of us are still stuck in the old factory mindset where time management was king, and try to apply it to the challenges of modern world work environment, completely unaware of two other ingredients of the ultimate productivity formula, attention and energy.

What it basically means is that we are juggling limited resources of time energy and attention. We need to optimize our habits and behaviors to pinpoint a source of our productivity problem.

Examples

You can get more sleep time and get more energy (assuming its a good quality sleep) but you will have to sacrifice time in your day.

You get more exercise and good food – you can expand your mental capacity to focus but you will have to sacrifice some time.

Additionally, thinking of productivity as the product of time, energy, and attention can help you avoid the trap of believing that more hours worked = greater productivity – which can cause you to give up things like adequate sleep, exercise, and regular breaks in favor of working more.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times obviously where you simply have to put the nose to the grindstone and hustle hard for 12hrs a day for few days. All I’m saying is that after few days of doing that your ability to focus and your energy will suffer and this may have a negative impact on your work, meaning you will not be getting as much from 12hrs that you put in as you did in the beginning.

That was the simplest definition of productivity I could find and one that helped me the most to understand the basic building blocks of it all.

Now let’s take a look at the basic obstacles to productivity and how we can deal with them.

Obstacles to Productivity

1.  Perfectionism and Fear

2. Being Overwhelmed 

3. Procrastination

4. Distractions

5. Prioritization

6. Scattered Attention

7. Not Having a Productivity System 

Perfectionism and Fear

Back in time in cavemen days, when our survival was at stake we had to develop a coping mechanism that would shield us from doing something silly like trying to pet a saber tooth tiger or jump off high surfaces.

That mechanism is called fear and it is still a major motivating factor for a lot of our actions even today in a society where we can be relatively safe majority of the time. It is something primal and we can’t just switch it off on command .

Most of the fears are irrational and today are just relics of those good old cavemen (and cavewomen) days and they get in a way of getting things done:

Typical Fears.

Few of the fears I can think of would be:

– fear of failure

– uncertainty

– incompetence

– discomfort

– lack of control

We don’t like to feel these fears.

Future is uncertain, and we like to gravitate towards certainty. So we avoid them, trying to seek control, certainty, comfort by going to distractions, news sites, social media, cat videos, email, text messages. We try to get control by running from the important but uncertain tasks to less important but familiar.

To dig deeper there is one fear in particular that stops us from putting out our best work and it is…

Fear of failure

When faced with something challenging, we’d rather live in a fantasy of what we could do or even other people then what we actually do.

Barriers to Success

Let’s say you have an idea for a website, business or any creative project for that matter. Actually you have a lot of ideas and they are all amazing. Yet you never really want to make them happen really. Part of you does, but the other part agonizes over what other people will think of you.  

Why?

Kill The Fantasy.

Cause making them happen would kill the fantasy and expose your own shortcomings and face the facts. You would rather bask in the fantasy then try to make it happen for real. 

Your intent is divided, part of you wants it, the other part of you is afraid. It’s like pushing a gas and a break in the same time. 

That’s why you may have a tendency to browse through motivational videos, or quotes and after the initial spark of motivation, the reality kicks in you end up sitting on a projects for months or even years.

You might be afraid to execute because you don’t live up to the vision, you don’t feel like you’re good enough, the project itself seems to be too overwhelming and many other perfectly valid reasons.

But part of having vision is understanding that it’s not gonna work out sometimes.

A lot of times it will but you have to take the risk and not be discouraged by potential failures. It can be quite discouraging to be at the base of the mountain and look up at the top and see all the individual steps that have to be taken in order to get there,

Solution

#1 Don’t Wait Until You’re Ready

You will never feel ready for anything new, waiting for the perfect moment is a myth that can halt your creative endeavors for years.

Put aside all the irrational fears that hold you in their grip. Speed of implementation and shipping it to get that first small win, is the key even if you don’t have the perfect knowledge and tools.

Most of the time you will be able to figure out a lot of things as you go along.

#2 Jump in and calibrate after the fact.

Just start, put it out there, and understand that you can tweak it as you go along.

An example of that would be me and this presentation. After I was invited to do a presentation out of the blue, my reaction could be either

Tell myself that I am not ready since I have not done public speaking in ages and wait for more appropriate moment…

or…

Do it anyways, mess it up if necessary, at least I will have an important reference experience and will have a better understanding of what to do and not to do the next time I try.

The outcome at the end of the day is irrelevant as long as I did my best, because I know that as long as I take action and revise regularly there is no other way but to improve. 

#3 Don’t Get Lost in The Theory 

A lot of times when we try to get something done we want to soak up as much information as possible about the given subject before we apply ourselves.

So for example you may study how to create a perfect blog posts before you create instead of actually creating one. Trying to perfect that first step before we take it, in order to not make any mistakes.

Game Analogy

A good analogy for that is this: imagine that you got a new game for your PS4 or computer.

Are you going to study the manual before you try to do anything? Of course not, most likely you are going to jump in head first and try to figure out mechanics of the game and then maybe later on you can refer to the manual if you get stuck. 

Elon Musk’s Advice

We should learn to solve problems, not to the tools.

Which in my understanding means that you must simply start on the task and see it as a series of challenges. As the challenge arises you can try to figure it out yourself or go get some advice about it that helps you solve the current problem.

As opposed to let’s say learning everything there is about going to the gym, perfect form, etc. etc., but never actually going to the gym.

#4 Overcoming Perfectionism

Perfection doesn’t exist, it is an abstraction.

You can eliminate it by just starting and deliberately messing it up.

Aim for version 3.

Expect that version 1 will be pretty bad, version 2 may still not be all the way there, but by the version 3 you should have it all figured out.

In other words expect and embrace the the messiness of it all.

If you create a website you may obsess over every detail and try to make everything perfect from the start that will effectively prevent you from doing anything, cause it will never be good enough.

Instead of that try to just do a poor job at doing it, as long as you take action you’re good to go. Once you do it, you will have much better understanding of what good looks like and by the version 3 of you will be looking at quite a handsome website! 

Being Overwhelmed

Sometimes there is simply too much stuff to do and not enough time to do it in!

Fact.

Around twenty years ago, when the electronic age was at its inception, people were predicting that paperless work and more technology would allow us to work less and pay more attention to the most important things in our lives.

As we can see today, those predictions were dead wrong. Due to technological advances we are indeed capable to achieve more in less time, but the amount of work keeps expanding in a manner that is proportionate to how much time we have left.

The Parkinson’s law says:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion.” 

On top of that juggling between work, family and our personal needs, it’s easy to get sucked into the never-ending list of to-dos and end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Hofstadter’s Law

Which brings me to another interesting point that is related to overwhelm: Hofstadter’s law and it goes something like this:

“It always takes longer than you expect it, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”

So the first possible reason for our overwhelm is that projects just tend to expand and shrink based on how much perceived time we think we have to complete them, which can potentially leave us with a lot unfinished stuff to do closer to our deadlines.

We’ve all experienced how a project expands to fit the time available. But why do we tend to underestimate the length of any given task? 

Overestimation of Our Abilities

If you are anything like me, you want to accomplish as much as possible in any given day in order to feel this awesome feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day, but quite often you fail to take into consideration how much more complex a simple looking tasks can be.

We fail to asses our energy levels and attention spans and tend spread them too thinly. Add distractions to the mix and you may end up crossing one or two things off the list your to do list and really get down on yourself, feeling like those tasks are simply bigger then you. 

This may be because we tend to set too many goals. In addition to wanting to get a project done, we also want to keep up with our favorite TV program, cook nice meals and stay in touch with friends. But to successfully reach any goal, we need a reason to place it higher than our other goals and desires. Then we can allocate our resources more efficiently.

Here is how to deal with in within a framework of the ultimate productivity formula.

Solution

Here is what to do when you are already so overwhelmed that you can barely catch you breath, you didn’t plan properly and Hofstadter’s as well as Parkinson’s Law got you.

#1 Readjust Your Expectations 

When you plan out your day, you can sometimes massively overestimate how much actually is humanly possible to be done.

Having a fixed expectation of goal that is very improbable to be realized in such a short period of time results in “I should already be here” sort of feeling.

#2 The voice

There is a voice within our heads that is constantly chattering and how we are not good enough if we won’t get everything done in one sitting (or else your life will end). 

Although pressure can be a good thing, it can take quite unproductive forms through self-criticism and negative self-talk. Realize that often times our perfectionism that our voice preaches is quite perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination.

There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection.

#3 Step out from your work

If you are overwhelmed and locked in a doing mode you are often too close to the picture to see the forest and instead you will just fixate on one individual tree.

The wisest thing to do might be to step away to be able to view your circumstances from a different perspective.

Taking few hours break can help as well as changing the physical environment  as the more time away we have from the task the lesser our attachment to any particular outcome (that can be a cause of a rut) as well as we have a larger perspective and we start to see how individual trees in the forest relate to each other.

I found out it useful to simply disconnect from the task for few hours up to two days and let it brew in the subconscious mind.

When I was back, the solution almost presented itself to me.

When Planning.

#4 Ask a different question.

If you want to prevent overwhelm you can make sure that you are doing the right things.

Instead of asking yourself :

What do I do?

Ask yourself a better question:

What do I want?

What is the result I’m after?

What is the right thing to do at this moment?

Instead of focusing on the activity, you will be focused on a result you’re after, the activity can change. What is the result you’re after?

The clearer you are on what you want, before you even consider any activity, the faster your brain can get you there. 

Instead of being general, try to be clear about what you want out of the activity. 

Brain is like a servo mechanism in a missile. If you shoot a missile and you lock it on a target, even though the target is moving it will follow it. This is how your brain is when its focused on the outcome instead of the activity.

If you get in a habit of thinking in outcomes not activities, pretty soon some of the activities you won’t even have to do anymore to get the outcome, or you will find a better more efficient way to get to the outcome quicker. 

So let’s say when you plan out the next week you will ask yourself, what are the most important outcomes (not action items) to get this week in my business and write those down and keep focusing on them, the brain will come with activities to get them as soon as possible (kind of like Google search).

Most people make a mistake for movement for achievement, and there are usually ways to get the achievement with less movement. 

 #5 Chunking

Tony Robbins says that the reasons why get overwhelemed is that we don’t manage our focus.

If we don’t manage it, our focus usually goes to one of three things:

1. Something we are afraid of, or pain

2. Something that will give us pleasure

3. Other people’s demands

Fulfilling those usually comes by default until we know what we want with clarity we are bound to be overwhelmed.

Chunking is grouping together information into bite sized pieces that can be used to effectively produce the results that you want.

We can only handle so much random information at any given time before overwhelmed. If instead we can create categories of things that we want to accomplish and under those we would nest the activities, they become much less overwhelming.

Instead of having a random list of things to do, what I would suggest is:

1. identify the outcome that you want

2. write it down

3. identify activities that will get you there

4. cluster those activities into similar chunks 

So when let’s say you do a brain dump of the things you need to do this week (while focusing on outcomes), don’t put them at random, create categories for outcomes you want to reach. 

Procrastination

Procrastination is something everyone has to battle with, and something that can literally ruin our lives if we let it.

In today’s day and age we have so many opportunities to be distracted. This is because of the immediate availability of highly stimulating and instantly gratifying things that we could be doing instead of the high impact, more mentally demanding work.

Ever wondered why is it so difficult to stick to long term success plan, yet so easy to being derailed by things that only provide momentary pleasure?

It’s the difference between short term and long term gratification. Our brains are in the tug-of-war between long term goals and temptations of instant gratification. Almost every area of your life is affected by the gravitational pull of those two forces.

The Pull of Instant Gratification

More primitive part of your brain is a stimulus-response pleasure seeking and pain avoiding monkey. In advertising this is used to the advantage of advertisers. They craft an ad that triggers impulse buying and instant gratification in a way that appeals to emotions and overrides our logic.

The Pull of Long Term Satisfaction

This is a different kind of satisfaction, the one that has more gravity and is not as fleeting as the instant form of gratification.

Only in the realm of long term satisfaction we can forge our dreams into reality, a lot of times it’s not glorious and it may be rather boring and monotonous . Consistent effort over a long stretch of time is bound to leave us with a greater sense of accomplishment and improve our lives.

Unfortunately there is nothing instantaneous about it, but it provides a greater levels of gratification if we are willing to wait for it.

Resistance

Another very common reason for procrastination is resistance.

We delay something for long periods of time because we simply dread starting it. Whenever we set our intention to do something productive the resistance is prone to show it’s ugly face.

But funny thing is that once you actually start working on a task, it rarely is as bad as you expected. Once you are in a state of flow with a task, your mind won’t be busy creating a story about the task. 

The monster in your mind is shriveled and you simply become present with the task at hand. 

Solutions.

Combining short and long term gratification

That’s the ideal state of affairs. A perfect balance between those two types of gratification. We want to reach our long term goals while having our days accented with some instant gratification.

We can actually have both, but some form of management is required so that we maintain a healthy state of balance and don’t fall into short term pleasure trap

Here are a few pointers to make sure that doesn’t happen.

#1 Use the reward system.

We all like to be rewarded for our efforts and we naturally work harder when there is a reward in the near future. 

My personal system is to work in units.

For each 50 minute work unit that I do I get to have 10 minute break and something instantly gratifying (like chocolate or jellysnakes).

This makes me think instead of this huge amount of work that I need to do I just want to do one unit of work which is 50 min and at the end of it I also have a reward, so I am much more likely to follow through!

#2 Punctuate long term goals with regular celebration points.

Identify milestones along the path of your long term goals and use them as opportunities to celebrate what you’ve accomplished up to that point. 

You get to decide what constitutes celebration. The important thing is that it gives you a sense of gratification for your hard work. That way you feel rewarded for sticking to the plan and you have some motivation to keep making progress.

#3 Thinking Ahead. 

Instead of thinking about this big task that you are going to accomplish, think that you can do just 5 minutes of work. This is what you brain will agree on and before you see it you will be on the task. Most often then not once you started you are going to follow through and complete the task.

Distractions

Cavemen Days

Distractions are the ultimate enemy of the ultimate productivity formula.

According to evolutionary psychology, in cavemen days knowing everything that was going on around you used to be a priority because the more you knew about your surroundings the less likely you were to be attacked by a predator.

There is even some evidence that brain releases dopamine (pleasure neurotransmitter), to reward us for finding out new information.

So getting distracted felt good and helped us stay alive.

Today

The problem is that the predators are not much of an issue anymore and we are still stuck with the same information and novelty seeking brains that are now facing the internet – the information and media rich environment.

Sounds, pictures, text etc. It can promote a compulsive behavior, where  we are constantly checking our smartphone and glancing at our email inbox and living in a perpetual state of distraction.

This clouds out the other mode of thinking that is more conducive to getting anything done, which is calm focused on a single task. We lose control of our attention or constantly dividing our attention and tend to miss out on the enjoyment of the process called deep work.

The Genius of Single Tasking

The greatest pieces of work can only come from focused minds and people who can control their mind. This is where creativity, critical and conceptual thinking is found. And this kind of thinking is actually being eroded one cute cat video at a time. 

Studies have shown that multitasking and switching our attention every few minutes makes accomplishing something 47% longer.

So next time you are compulsively checking your phone in the middle of work, remember that those micro-distractions add up to a whopping number.

Solutions

#1 Take a breath

Everything is a pattern, so you can take conscious control whenever a distraction appears, just focus on taking a deep conscious breath until the distraction disappears. You won’t be perfect with it, but bringing awareness to it over and over  can have very beneficial results in disconnecting the compulsive thoughts.

#2 Take control over your notifications

Believe it or not but you can actually switch off the notifications on your phone. That can help tremendously with disconnecting this Pavlovian stimulus response that we all are so accustomed to. Once you remove the stimulus you may experience some craving at first but later on it will go away and your mind will be clearer. 

#3 Take control over your environment

The environment is super important when it comes to focus so you need to make sure that the odds of you getting distracted are stacked in your favor.

Are people you’re with help you or distract you? Is music you’re listening to helping you (music with lyrics tend to be more distracting).

Do you find yourself getting on Facebook randomly? – block it! Maybe you could only allow yourself to open in in a browser of second choice. That would give you some extra time to come back to your senses.

Prioritization

Having a business, or working online can be the greatest thing. Having all that freedom to pursue whatever goals, and do whatever you want with your free time can be quite exhilarating.

A lot of time this kind of freedom has it’s price though. When I started making money online I ran into a problem I think a lot of people can relate to.

I wanted to get everything done at once. Get my FB, Twitter, Instagram, Blog, Youtube, promotion, affiliate marketing, article writing, SEO all on point all at once. 

Likely outcomes of such an endeavors are twofold:

1. I was not be able to do it – no matter how great my intentions are and how much willpower I have, I will simply run out of juice and be left with feeling like I haven’t done much at all. 

2. Second outcome is that all my results from those pursuits will be average at best. Why we don’t see Mark Zuckerberg shredding on the guitar? Cause if he dedicated his limited resources of time, energy and focus to that pursuit he would have to compromise on his programming skills. 

Solution

#1 What is Your ONE Thing?

Ask yourself what do you want to accomplish and devote 100% of your resources to this one thing. Instead of trying to juggle three projects at a time, it might be a better idea to simply focus on completing one, then another one and another one. 

Understand that there is only so much willpower that you have at your disposal and that willpower has to be focused and directed towards one endeavor instead of spreading yourself to thinly.

That might be JUST social media, or just blog writing. This is a cornerstone of the ultimate productivity formula.

#2 Big Rocks First

This is a story from a book by Steven Covey: “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, about the importance of prioritization.

“As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.

Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the big rocks in your life? A project that you want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these Big Rocks in first or you’ll never get them in at all”

#3 80/20 Rule

About 80% of the carpet gets 20% of the wear.

About 80% of the beer drinkers drink 20% of the beer.

About 20% of company’s customers account for 80% of the complaints.

I’m sure that you are familiar with that principle. It shows up in almost every field and its called 80/20 or Pareto Principle. The ratios may vary from one field to another but the underlying principle is the same. Majority of results come from minority of the causes.

How this works in business? 

For example if you have a website that you’re trying to drive traffic to, you may try to get it from social media. You may experiment with Reddit, Pintrest, Facebook, and other. This can cause you so much time that you may end up not putting it in places that count like writing articles and creating content.

But if you look into your analytics what you are very likely to find is that majority of your traffic comes from minority of platforms.

So it doesn’t make sense to spend the same amount of time on all of them if the ROI they bring is so unequally spread.

Scattered Attention

If not consumed by social media or otherwise distracted, it is quite typical that our attention is all over the place and we simply can’t get into a state of flow for some weird reason. There are few personal things I can recognize for myself, maybe you can identify more. Those would be:

– compulsive thinking about the future

– compulsive to do list scanning

– not being clear about what we want to accomplish 

– paralysis analysis

Now thinking about the future and planning can definitely be beneficial. But the difference between compulsive thinking about the future vs proactive thinking about the future.

The problem with over-planning, overthinking, analysis paralysis all seem to have the same root cause.

Lack of Self Trust

Lack of self trust – you don’t trust yourself that you have the capacity to melt into the each moment and melt into the future merge and adapt as it unfolds.

This is quite a bizarre self fulfilling prophecy.

Because you’re always in your head thinking, you don’t have all the mental faculties at your disposal to complete the task at hand. Your awareness is diffused, making you less effective, which in turn creates less and less self-trust in the fact that you can actually tackle the task at hand.

The very thing you need more of to get stuff done.

It’s like sometimes we can’t get out of the big picture, thinking and are trying to mentally accomplish tasks in our heads, which unfortunately doesn’t produce any real life outcomes.

To Do Lists

So, we have to do lists to figure out what to do with our future plans, but this sometimes might not be enough. 

Our heads can’t handle the complexity of our future plans, ideas, to do list, phone calls etc. The average to do lists are quite inefficient though, and majority of our plans are still stored in our psyche.

Psyche sucks as a time management tool, it will remind you about stuff you can’t do in the 3am in the morning. Or remind you about other things you should be doing or working on as you work on one thing, which is quite bad.

Solutions

What we want is the nice, calm steady state of flow, where all our mental faculties are focused on the one thing we are working on, filtering out the internal as well as the external noise. There is few things we can do:

#1 Meditation and Mindfulness

Einstein said: “Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. As you might have noticed, in any given moment unlike highlight reel you see on YouTube, not many things are happening. Now you’re reading this post, after that you might be having lunch etc. If you could pause, you could see that at any given moment one or two things are unfolding in front of you.

The problem is that it doesn’t always feel this way. Our attention wanders to our phones worries about the future and past rumination. When we focus on the present though we can process things deeper and slow down enough to enjoy them, but that requires training.

So the art of living in the present moment is about paying attention to the things as they unfold and not freaking out about the things we need to do. The best way I know that serves as training wheels to living in the present moment is meditation. I would encourage anyone to pick up a habit of meditation. I really helps you to step out of your work and see the forest, not only the individual trees as you work.

To Do List Hacking

The crucial ingredient of the ultimate productivity formula is a to do list. So as I said, some people store everything in their heads and walk around with a noise that prevents them to actually be present. Ideally we can craft to do lists that instead of us having to mentally scan and sort of try to accomplish them in our heads, we can simply store and quiet our brains: 

1. Capture everything that is meaningful, otherwise your brain will keep going :don’t forget, don’t forget don’t forget, and this little monkey will start going in my head

2. Just writing things down isn’t enough, cause if you look at most people’s to do list its something like: mom, bank. But you have to take the next step, you have to clarify what is the outcome you are committed to and what does the doing look like and what is the very next action so example would be :

– Get a loan from the bank – apply for the loan

– Make a surprise party for mom – order a cake

3. Finally you need to review the to do lists as you’re progressing

4. Do the things

This will help you to clear a mental clutter and mental RAM and be clear to focus your attention on the things in front of you. 

There you have it!

This is the ultimate productivity formula, a compilation of all the best productivity knowledge currently available.

PS. Learn more about the importance of structuring your environment the right way for maximum productivity here

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