WORKPLACE / JUL. 01, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How To Become 5X More Productive

When the super-successful Hollywood star, Will Smith was asked what was the key to his success, he didn't respond with being gifted, talented, or receiving any lucky breaks, he said:

“I’ve never really viewed myself as talented, where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. When the other guy is sleeping, I’m working. When the other guy is eating, I’m working.”

Productivity goes hand in hand with success. We all know being productive is much easier said than done—writers are often hit with writer’s block, and we all struggle with procrastination.

Indeed there are many things that cripple our productivity, overcome these 5 major obstacles to become 5X more productive. 

1. Let go of perfectionism.

It’s certainly admirable to always strive for the best, but it can become crippling when you go round and round in circles never crossing the finish line. By all means aim for a ‘perfect’ standard, but also have a realistic mark that allows you to complete your project. 

If your product is top quality and competitive with the best in the market, that should be a good enough ‘finish line’ to wrap up and move onto the next project. 

The truth is, things can always be done better. ‘Perfect’ is an ideal that will always run away. You don’t want to be chasing that unicorn forever. 

2. Shut-up the lizard brain.

Ahh, I’m not good enough to this…I need more experience…I’ll wait until I’m ready…

That’s your lizard brain talking. The “Impostor Syndrome” that doubts everything you’re trying to do. It’s part of our human fight or flight mechanism—a natural response to keep us safe and in our comfort zone. Of course, that’s helpful if you’re dealing with a pack of tigers, but not very helpful when you’re trying to be productive and excel with your work. 

Often, the fear holding back your productivity is fear of judgement. We’re afraid of what people will think so we give ourselves as many reasons as possible not to get the work done. 

Recognising this voice is a huge step in boosting your productivity levels. Realize that it comes from a place of fear, but that fear is not a rational one.

3. Write down your goals.

Want to know how crucial it is to write down your goals?

A study in 1979 asked Harvard MBA graduate students “have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”  The result, only 3% had written goals and plans, 13% had goals but they weren’t in writing and 84% had no goals at all. Ten years later, the same group was interviewed again. 

Get ready to have your mind blown:

The 13% of the class who had goals, but did not write them down was earning twice the amount of the 84% who had no goals. The 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined! 

This also applies for daily goals. If you are not writing them down, you are not giving yourself a destination to meet. 

Do this first thing in the morning to set yourself up for a productive day. 

4. Break the plateau.

You may feel like you are being productive, but if you are comparing your workload to someone who is unemployed, it is easy to feel like a superstar. Your productivity levels should be always increasing as you develop and grow in your respective career and work. 

Being in a plateau can easily lead to frustration. Continually raise the bar and expect more work from yourself. 

You should also be looking to be more efficient. Looking for better and effective ways things can be done. If you do not feel as though you are being productive, it is most likely because you have become comfortable with where you are. 

Iteration and growth is part of life. Don’t get left behind.

5. Short sprints.

At best, the human mind can focus for about 90 minutes. It needs about 20 minutes afterward to recover. This is based off the science of our natural ultradian rhythms. And of course, our personal experiences affirm that paying attention requires energy—that energy does not have an infinite source.

Try the Pomodoro technique, a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and when it goes off, take a short break. Stand up and have a stretch, grab a drink, do some push-ups—anything to take your mind completely away from your work to give it the recharge it needs. 

Try these 5 practices today to supercharge your productivity levels! 

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