I recently got directed to this amazing blog/website/body-of-work: A Year Of Productivity. The basic idea:
- Chris Bailey got a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
- He got offered two jobs (he’s non-specific about them – my guess is that they involved being an intern).
- But he turned them down, and took a year off instead to become all things productive (which, let’s be honest, does seem a bit convenient – I mean, taking time off to be productive?).
- And he wrote about it.
- Then gave a TEDtalk.
- Which is a great way to spend a year!
If you can tell at all – I’m a bit jealous. And his site is so crisply clean.
Anyway, his year is over, and he had a final reflection on the top 10 lessons learned. They can be found in this post in wonderfully-explained detail, but I’ve got them here:
10. One of the best ways to become more productive is to work on your highest-leverage tasks
I think this is a fancy way of saying “first things first” and/or “prioritise things” and/or “go for the low-hanging fruit”.
The general idea: some things have high returns, other things have less high returns. Start with the highest-return tasks.
Example: you could send some work emails or complete some paperwork. The paperwork is what you dislike, and it’s weighing on you. If you start with the emails, you’ll take longer over them in order to avoid doing the paperwork whilst still feeling like you were just too busy to get to the paperwork. But you’ll still feel weighed down by the paperwork. On the other hand, you could start with the paperwork, and then feel great for the rest of the day. High leverage? I think so.
9. The three most effective ways to become more productive are also the most boring pieces of advice you’ve already received
Eat well, get sleep, exercise.
Because hunger, fatigue and sh*tty self-image are distracting.
8. Always question blanket productivity advice
I like to get up early – it’s my most productive time of the day. That doesn’t mean that the same applies to you.
7. Forming good habits makes you more productive automatically
Because you don’t even think about it.
According to Charles Duhigg (author of the Power of Habit), just under half of our daily tasks are automatic activities. Waking up, eating, exercise, how we check our mails, tea-breaks, etc.
Example: if you regularly get the bad stuff out of the way first thing (like that paperwork), then you’ll stop thinking about it, and just do it automatically.
6. There are three ingredients you combine on a daily basis to be productive: time, energy, and attention
If you’re good with managing your time and your energy levels, but not your attention – then you’ll spend a lot of time on Facebook, procrastinating. And things will take longer than they should (but, you know, at least you’ll schedule it in sufficiently).
If you’re good with managing your energy levels and your attention, but not your time – then you’ll never meet deadlines, and you’ll spend too much time on one task.
If you’re good with managing your attention and your time, but not your energy levels – then life will be a drag.
You need all three.
5. There is no one secret to becoming more productive, but there are hundreds of tactics you can use to get more done
Being more productive is actually just being a better human. It’s not one thing – it’s a myriad.
Here is a list of 100 life hacks that will change your life.
Here is my personal favourite: STOP organising your inbox into folders. Studies have shown that searching your email is way faster. #FeelingJustified
Also: “Schedule time when you completely disconnect from your work. When you completely disconnect from your work, your mind continues to process your work, but in the background while you do other things.”
4. Working too hard or too much shatters your productivity
Well yes. “Burn out”.
3. The best way to feel motivated is to know why you want to get something done
That is: having a purpose helps. So ask why you’re doing something.
2. Becoming more productive is pointless if you’re not kind to yourself in the process
It’s alright not to finish something.
No one will die.
Unless you’re a doctor.
1. Productivity isn’t about how much you produce, it’s about how much you accomplish
Attention, corporates: it’s not about face-time.
Check ayearofproductivity.com out – it’s filled with gems.