Who is more productive, a person who works eight hours every day, or a person who works six hours every day?
If you’ve been studying productivity for long, you already know this is a trick question. We’ve been conditioned to equate “busy” and “productive.” When in reality, productivity is about getting things done. It’s not about working long hours.
Here’s a better question. “How can I finish eight hours of work in six hours?”
The “trick” to pulling that off may be easier than you think, and a lot more enjoyable than you might imagine.
Humans love novelty. As a productivity hacker myself, I’m fascinated by cutting-edge ideas for getting things done faster.
Despite this, I force myself to periodically review the basics. I’m talking about tried-and-true,...
“Bootstrapping” is noble in concept but more expensive than you think.
I’ve bootstrapped a business enough times to understand the benefits and the allure of building something without spending much cash. Unfortunately, the bootstrapping method is slow. It typically goes like this:
It’s how most people grow a business. You do each job yourself (initially doing five jobs at once), and gradually hire people to help as cashflow allows.
What is the specific transaction that will generate cash for your business? Do you have a crystal-clear answer to that question?
If so, you can fast-forward the process of scaling...
No one cares how busy you are or how long you work. They only care about the results you’re able to produce.
That’s the reality for entrepreneurs.
Despite this, many entrepreneurs spend their whole day rushing. Or worse, we spend the whole day feeling scattered and overwhelmed. That’s not a good formula for success. In fact, the more hectic your workday feels, the less likely you are to succeed as an entrepreneur. Why?
As a psychologist and productivity coach for entrepreneurs, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty. It’s not the hard workers who succeed in business. Rather, it’s the entrepreneurs who slow down to think. Let’s examine why.
In the world of entrepreneurship, slow is fast. If you want to make rapid progress, rushing around like a chicken with your head cut off will never get you there. You’ll just...
A few years ago, I was reading a funny and informative book by Mary Roach called Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. It’s a book about the scientists who work behind the scenes to support the US military.
In one interview, the author was put on a treadmill so the research scientist could demonstrate his work. They monitored her exertion and subsequent rehydration. Later, they informed her that she is what they call a “reluctant drinker.”
Apparently, some of us have a natural instinct to avoid drinking much water. We just don’t feel very thirsty. As a result, we often fail to drink enough water to replenish states of mild dehydration.
I immediately knew I was in that group. My wife often asks if she can drink my nearly full cup of water at restaurants after she has finished her entire glass. As a child, I used to wonder why people took water bottles with them on long hikes.
But now, as a...
I’ve been reading a book called Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg.
It’s interesting because it teaches you how to accomplish big changes in your life you’d be very proud of, but without the struggle and strain that would typically be required for success.
The secret behind his method is starting very small so the habit feels easy. And once that small step becomes a habit, you just grow it a tiny bit.
You keep doing that until one day you look back and realize you’ve built a habit that serves you well and yet now takes very little effort to sustain.
If you can improve something just 1% per day, that area of your life would be 365% better at the end of the year.
According to BJ Fogg, you only need three things if you want to create a habit.
Now, that first part is easy. You can just...
I don’t use a budget for my personal finances. It takes up too much of my time.
I use Mint.com to review all the expenses that posted across various bank statements and credit cards once per week. It takes about 10 minutes unless I spot a charge that doesn’t look right.
Things are different when it comes to budgeting my time. I spend 10 minutes per day reviewing my plans, energy level, mental attitude, stress, and accomplishments. Then I spend 30 minutes per week budgeting my time for the coming seven days. Once per quarter I reserve an entire day to plan the next quarter and make firm commitments for specific outcomes.
Why the difference?
It has to do with the magnitude of effect. If my wife and I get into a bad habit of spending too much money on frivolous expenses, it might set us back a few hundred dollars for a couple of months before I notice the trend and we self-correct. So the most I have to lose is a...
The guide with a rifle strapped to his back grabbed my mother’s shoulders to stop her from running. The silverback gorilla was tearing through the underbrush as it charged toward her.
It was my brother’s 16th birthday. His long-awaited gift was a family outing up the side of a mountain in Rwanda to see the nearly extinct mountain gorillas in the wild (our family was living in Rwanda at the time).
When a gorilla charges, you don’t want to run or make eye contact. You’re supposed to stare at the jungle floor and remain as still as possible.
As you can imagine, that runs contrary to our human instincts.
And that’s one of the reasons you’re not allowed to go without a guide. You need someone who has mastered the right knee-jerk reactions that can save your life if the silverback decides to charge.
A simple rule can be more useful than a complex decision process because of its ability...
A lot of productivity comes down to state management.
It sounds goofy, but if I’m ever really struggling, I may stop work for 5 minutes to watch a few fight scenes from my favorite action movie, The Bourne Identity. That’s state management.
If you’re a Tony Robbins fan, you may know he jumps on a trampoline while shouting affirmations to himself for a few minutes before he rushes on stage to greet the crowd. That’s state management.
If I’m feeling sleepy before hopping on a coaching call, I’ll do 50 push-ups, or step outside for two minutes without a coat during the winter. That’s state management.
Thinking can only take you so far. Sometimes you need to change your state first and then the right kind of thoughts begin to emerge with less struggle.
Before I learned this truth of human nature, I used to try to fight drowsiness by thinking my way out of it. I’d be driving during the midafternoon slump, my wife asleep in the passenger...
There’s a thief lurking in the shadows of your mind.
He’ll never break into your home or rob you at gunpoint. He just waits for you to invite him in. He stands beside you in broad daylight, quietly siphoning away your motivation, creativity, and drive.
His favorite mark? Entrepreneurs who take destiny into their own hands.
He targets people with enough talent to drive progress by the sheer power of their will. Anyone smart enough to have multiple options for building an empire, creating from scratch, or blazing new trails one step at a time.
Your enemy is uncertainty. He is the thief in the night. The killer of dreams. The kryptonite that drains your powers of productivity.
Have you ever experienced a burst of productivity and effortless focus? Did you ride the wave of creative synthesis, sidestepping hurdles at breakneck speeds?
For a moment, you held in your hands the two active ingredients of peak productivity. Clear goals...
The French mathematician, Blaise Pascal pointed out there are some areas of life that can only be understood as twin truths.
You cannot fully grasp the truth of the matter without understanding both sides of the coin. And each side appears to be the opposite of its companion.
When it comes to productivity, we encounter these twin truths:
1. We do best when we make a plan, set deadlines, and follow a pattern of commitment and accountability to reach specific goals.
2. We make the fastest progress when we simply walk in the direction of our goals, knowing we will only discover the way forward one turn at a time.
How could these both be true?
They are twin truths. You cannot understand the whole truth without examining both halves.
Without specific goals, commitment, and measurement of your progress, you will inevitably drift from one project to another without making any meaningful progress. The human mind is attracted to novelty.
We are easily distracted by a new idea which on the...