44 Productivity Tips

Focus on results not effort.

Or as Steve Jobs said: “Artists always ship.”

1. Create a To Don’t list. Cut down your To Do list to no more than 3 things each day, and do them.

2. Out of the same box, learn when to say no (more often). The wisdom in cubicle land is to keep volunteering for more and more stuff. But being unnecessarily busy merely obscures the devotion to your most important tasks.

3. Learn the art of concentration. It doesn’t come easily but if you can find a place where you can unplug each day for 10 minutes and think of nothing, then you will find it easier to tune out from the noise that distracts you when you try to get into the flow.

4. Delegate. Are you the best person for the job? Bury your ego.

5. Focus on the 20% that produces the 80%.

6. Have fewer clients to look after. You may think this counter-intuitive but if you focus all your efforts on looking out for your (few) clients then, over the long haul, you will be far more productive.

7. Do more of what you enjoy. Does your passion fuel your work, or your work fuel your passion? You decide.

8. Accept that you don’t know everything, and be open, more often, in asking for help.

9. Unplug from the Internet at least once a week. Being on-line all the time is not healthy.

10. Start to listen to your body clock. When are you most excited? Get the big rocks out the way during this period.

11. Hire a coach. You may think you can push through when things get tough – winners never quit and all that stuff – but having someone to talk to will highlight exactly what you need to do to make better use of your time.

12. Buy a copy of Getting Things Done by David Allen or Zen to Done by Leo Babauta. Both are excellent guides to making the most of your time

13. Live by these 12 words: “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.” I first read about the power of these words in 1988 in Tom Hopkins magnificent work How to Master the Art of Selling Anything.

14. Run one tab at a time on your browser.

15. Invest in a Moleskin or similar organiser and start writing down more of your daily thoughts. Don’t forget to give yourself the space to read what you have written, and to move forward at least one of your ideas.

16. Seek regular feedback on how you are doing.

17. Start your day 30 minutes earlier; and go to bed 30 minutes later.

18. Exercise. You will be amazed the difference 30 minutes of semi-vigorous exercise can make to your well-being and energy levels.

19. Kick your ass once a day. If you find your energy levels dropping or the Resistance starting to chime in on doing something (far) less productive, don’t be afraid to self-talk in extreme language. In the old days, we would just say: “Buck your ideas up.”

20. Change your acquaintances, friends or members of your Tribe. If you hang out with negative people too much, guess what, you too will become negative. This is not a case of associating with those people who are deluded but rather you need to find people whose glass is half full more often than half empty.

21. Watch less television.

22. Read more. As Jim Rohn said: “All leaders are readers.” One book I would recommend is The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Ros Zander

25. Make yourself do the things that you hate. This is a semi-riff on the Zen to Done philosophy but you need to make sure that, just like in an exam, you don’t just do the questions that you can answer. The difference between winners and losers is that winners do the stuff that nobody else likes or wants to do.

26. Get into the habit of rewarding yourself for things done well. But well isn’t everything. It is those things that have made a difference to someone else.

27. Do more stuff (this doesn’t mean volunteering all the time – see 2 above). No, seriously. The more stuff you do, the more stuff you will want to do. This isn’t an excuse for doing junk stuff just to fill your day, but rather the desire to keep pushing through will become a life-changing habit.

28. Don’t worry about who you offend. Stop trying to please everybody. You can’t. Do what you know you have to do, even if that doesn’t make you the most popular kid in town.

29. Hire a virtual assistant. They are worth their weight in gold.

30. Understand your limitations. You can’t be good at everything. Do more of the stuff you are good at rather than constantly rounding out the edges and trying to be all things to all people.

31. Practice the art of strategic MBWA (Managing by Wandering About). The aimless, we need to fill some time, will leave you frustrated.

32. Embrace technology.

33. Start using a timer. Give yourself a limited amount of time to do something. If everything is open-ended then you will find that you work harder and harder for less results.

34. Find a quiet space to work. Open plan is so new age, but when everyone is on the phone, dictating or walking about, it can be very distracting.

35. Meditate. Or if this seems too new age, learn how to breathe and focus just on the breath. One of the greatest teachers in this area is Thich Nhat Hanh.

36. Be yourself. Stop pretending to be someone else. Follow your gut instinct.

37. Have an outcome that is meaningful. Stop focusing on the numbers and think more carefully what you are trying to achieve.

38. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh often.

39. What does success feel like? Spend as much time as you can trying to recreate the sensation of success. More money. More freedom. You decide.

40. Stop trying to be right all the time. If your focus is on shipping you have to let go of the notion that everything you do will be a triumph of success.

41. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

42. What is beyond the AWESOME? Do at least one thing each day that scares you.

43. Map your time. Understand where you are pissing your life away, and resolve to do less of it.

44. Finally, if you haven’t got the answers, don’t be afraid to speak to the people you admire – even the famous ones – and ask them their secret of success.

Any I have missed?