How To Be Productive
Top 5 Tips
Productive people are happier, more fulfilled, get better results – and often earn more money, either directly (i.e. more sales) or indirectly (i.e. promotion).
Getting more done feels good – and even the laziest, lethargic and indifferent amongst you will be able to improve your results by following these top 5 tips on how to be productive. Some of them you may have heard before, but as with a lot in life - it’s the simple things that are best.
Note - this article is an overview of how to be productive. Feel free to check out my article on
The 80 20 Rule,
which shows you how to identify the 20% of effort in your life that is producing 80% of the results.
How to Be Productive 1: Do What You Love
Doing what you love is by far the simplest way to become more productive. The importance of this point cannot be understated – this is by far the easiest and most effective way to give yourself an almighty kick up the backside.
Following your passion does not feel like work. Being truly passionate about what you do fills you with an energy unlike anything you could ever hope to replicate with willpower alone in a job you can’t stand – or worse, a job that you quietly tolerate. (If you can’t stand your job you’re more likely to be driven to despair and actually do something about it – like insult your boss, quit, burn all the proverbial bridges and run for the bloody mountains – but if you’re merely indifferent, you’re likely to fester and continue not-rocking-the-boat for a good while longer yet...)
If you love what you do, you just do it. You don’t need a million tips and cheats to get started in the morning. You don’t need to rev yourself up. You don’t need to whack on your Any Given Sunday DVD and wait three hours for Al Pacino to scream at you about fighting for that inch. You...just...do...it. Because you want to. Because it feels wrong not to. Because there’s very little more you’d rather be doing with your time. Because it’s fun and joyous and life affirming and because you know that this is exactly what you were put here on God’s Green Earth to do and Godammit I’m bloody thrilled to be doing it...!!
If you know – or if you take the time and effort to
– what you want to do with your life, and you then go and do that, I assure you that you shall never have to read another sentence about productivity again. You will be cured of your apathy – and you can happily skip the rest of this article.
If you’re not yet doing what you love, however, the next best thing you can do is...
How to Be Productive 2: Link to a Higher Purpose
The second way you can learn how to be productive is by linking your current activities to a higher purpose – a goal that you are driven to achieve. If you can create a direct link between your activities now, and where you want to get to, it becomes a lot easier to be motivated and productive.
To give you an example, two days a week I’m a salesman. To tell you the truth, I’m actually a pretty good salesman. The only problem is, I don’t really like selling. There are a million things I’d rather do than pick up the phone to call someone and tell them that they have a problem that only I can solve. More often than not, I do help my clients – and it makes me happy to do so – but it still doesn’t detract from the fact that I’d prefer to be doing something else with my life.
This situation resulted in extended periods of me procrastinating, twiddling my thumbs, and doing pretty much anything apart from selling. Once, when the boss was out, I actually left my office, walked 30 minutes to the bookshop, purchased The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and proceeded to read it at my desk for a couple of hours. When caught, I argued that it was actually making me more productive. The provider of my salary disagreed. We parted company soon after.
How to Be Productive 3: Ignore Everyone Else
The third way to learn how to be productive is to stop doing what everyone else does, give the proverbial middle finger to convention and listen to your brain and body - and work only when you feel you’ll perform at your best.
I often ponder which great man decided that all humans function best between the hours of 9-5, for five consecutive days – and how he came to this baffling conclusion. What nonsense it is to expect humans – as varied and unique and unusual as we are – to all work to the best of our ability when we are told to work for 8 hours straight, 5 days in a row ... or else.
It took me two painstaking years out of university to a) realise that this is madness, and b) do something about it. I now work two and a bit days a week - when I feel I will be most productive - and my output has improved drastically. I earn more money for my company and they don’t have to put up with my repeated protestation that “I feel like I’m in a prison cell”. Everyone’s a winner.
My advice here is to experiment first and see for yourself when you’re most productive. Some people rise early and can’t function after lunch, and for others the day doesn’t start until noon. Some folk hate Mondays – whilst others revel in them after a couple of days rest. Well, maybe not revel, but you know what I mean. Play around and work out what’s best for you.
When you have analysed your behaviour and know how to be productive for yourself – scheme, plan and plot your exit from regular working hours – and then set your own work day. More and more employers are becoming open to flexible working and work-from-home agreements – and if your employer isn’t, it is likely that he can be swayed with some hard results - so try and at least negotiate a test, then work your socks off at home to make sure you’re more productive there than at the office!
It’s too much detail to go into here, but I’d highly recommend you go and get yourself a copy of The Four Hour Work Week. Everything you need to know about your escape from the 9-5 rat race monotony – and the strategies for doing so – are contained in this little gem of a book.
How to Be Productive 4: Stop Reading Crap
The fourth way you can learn how to be productive is by being selective with what you put into your ever-so-impressionable brain.
Reading the “news” – or whatever the 5 dudes who own the global media companies want us to think is the news – is the quickest way to stunt your productivity and collapse in a depressed, fear-induced heap.
is rife - and most people don't even stop to consider that media companies often want you to think and act in a certain way.
On the other hand, reading powerful books and uplifting articles every day is a great way to trick your brain into being more productive. If you read enough of this stuff, and implement just a few of the ideas, you’ll end up being more motivated and focussed - and you’ll get more done.
Avoid – News, nonsense stories about celebrities, tabloids...etc. All will “lower your vibrational frequency” – or, in layman’s terms, make you become stupid and feel like crap.
Read – Psycho Cybernetics, The Power of Now, The Four Hour Work Week, Zen Habits and Steve Pavlina’s blog. All will make you feel happy, energised and happy to be alive. There’s certainly worse things than reading an article that inspires you to take positive action today – and which helps you to improve your life for the better.
How to Be Productive 5: Work For Yourself
Ah, let’s finish with some anti-corporate rhetoric. The final way to learn how to be productive is to give up “normal” work and make the decision to work for yourself.
In short, if you work for yourself, you’re likely to be doing something you love – which, as mentioned above, makes you productive by default.
Secondly, when you are the evil, dreaded boss – it becomes a lot harder to slack off. It just doesn’t seem to happen. If you only report to yourself, you’ll procrastinate less and get more done than you ever have in your life.
It’s more rewarding too – there’s nothing quite like the thrill of doing your own thing – and the pride of building and growing a little business propels you into a heightened state of productivity. By applying principles like
The 80 20 Rule,
you can be sure to be more productive working for yourself than you are for anyone else.
If you’ve been weighing up the idea of doing your own thing, I couldn’t recommend it enough – take the plunge!
That's How To Be Productive...!
That’s it – you now know how to be productive! If you follow these tips, you’ll almost certainly end up getting more done – and best of all, you’ll feel better in yourself.
To summarise, if you do what you love, you’ll be more productive because you enjoy doing it.
If you don’t do what you love yet, find a way to link your activities now to your goal - which will motivate you to be more productive and help you get where you want to be.
Third, only work when it suits you – listen to your body and work out what works best for you. Odds are it ain’t 9-5, 5 days in a row.
Fourth, fill your brain with positive, affirming, uplifting information – and try and avoid the dreaded corporate news.
Finally, if you’ve often pondered it, take the proverbial plunge and do your own thing...and add value to the world.
That’s how to be productive – let me know how you get on!