We all live in the same world with unlimited possibilities but how we perceive that world is wildly different from person to person.
There are millions of ways you can complete your own task list, whether it’s through tackling the most difficult tasks in the morning, hiring an assistant, focusing on batches of tasks in the evening power hour or completing all tasks that take less than 2 minutes immediately.
All of this takes time. We try to squeeze as much as we can into one day, reading as many productivity articles as we can looking for tips and shortcuts. While that’s not a bad strategy at all, we must remember that it’s not all about time. It’s all about energy and focus.
Work smarter, not harder.
- Decide what’s important right now because in five, ten or fifteen years you will be more disappointed by what you have not done, rather than what you have done.
- Sleep, eat well and exercise every single day of your life. Each night the quality of your sleep will effect your focus the following day, your eating habits will determine your energy and exercising on a regular basis will release a regular dose of endorphins in your brain and help you to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
- The 2 minute rule. If any task that you have to do takes 2 minutes or less, complete it immediately. This will save you at least 4 minutes in the long run because you don’t have to make a note of the task and bare the mental strain.
- The 5 minute rule. This rule dictates that for any task you do not want to work on right now but that has to get done, simply working on it for five minutes will get the ball rolling and will 9 times out of 10 lead to you working on the task for far longer than 5 minutes.
- Work smarter, not harder. Focus on saving yourself time while completing tasks, instead of staying up all night. The more focused you are the smarter you will work.
- Complete your most important tasks early in the morning. The more difficult and time-consuming the task is, the more mental strain it will have on you. As the day goes on we get tired, both physically and mentally, so naturally, you should complete your most important tasks when you are at your strongest.
- Seinfeld’s Productivity Chain. If you want to be amazing at something you have to practice it every single day. That means you don’t take days off. Not even on Christmas.
- Get as much as possible out of your head. Write down your tasks. Schedule your most repetitive tasks in your calendar. Reduce the mental strain of carrying numerous ‘mini-tasks’ in your head, simply take note and forget about them until your are ready to work on them.
- Small useful habits such as 20 push ups in the morning, picking up wholemeal bread and multiplying large numbers in your head regularly can be surprisingly empowering, extremely useful and lead to a more fulfilling lifestyle.
- Use as few tools as possible in order to get your tasks done. There are thousands of online and app based productivity tools for you to use. They all take time to get familiar with and can often waste more of your time than they are worth. Stick to simple tools such as Apple’s built-in cloud notes app that syncs across devices instead of several fancy apps than do bits and pieces.
- The Pomodoro Technique advocates tackling tasks in 20 minute time frames, ignoring all other distractions such as phone calls, text messages and so on. After 3 of take a break for 20 minutes. Rinse and repeat.
- Routine, routine, routine. In order to reach a sustainable level of productivity you need to incorporate your most important tasks into your daily routine. The more you work on those repetitive tasks, the faster you become at completing them.
- Wear your headphones, even if you’re not listening to music. It will cancel out some of the surrounding noise for you which keeps you more focused. Otherwise, listen to some instrumental, non-lyrical music.
- Constantly assess your situation. Reflect on what you are doing and whether or not it is brining you closer to your ultimate goal.
- Ship often. Simply put, that means getting your product or service out the door as often as possible. Don’t strive for the best version before you get feedback from consumers. It’s impossible. Ship often. Learn from feedback. Update and ship again.
- Schedule emails to three times a day. Try your best to reach inbox zero, not leaving any emails behind to be read again later.
- Schedule phone calls and text messages to three times a day. Don’t be distracted be the constant ringing of your phone, it breaks your momentum. Simply take that call later, at a time that suits your schedule.
- Pressure can do wonders. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
- Schedule procrastination. Some of your most thought-provoking ideas will pop into your head during procrastination. Don’t limit yourself to the belief that procrastination is a bad idea.
- Delete. Say no. Ignore. Stop doing everything. Take your time replying and committing to things that may not be worth your time. Only commit to meetings, work or tasks that will be of the most benefit to you.
- Fake incompetence. It’s a diplomatic way to apply the previous rule!
So what’s the most important rule in this list? It’s the only one that applies to all the other rules…
Work smarter, not harder. The results compound over time and will most certainly lead to your most exceptional work.