Do you struggle to get things done?
Are you constantly watching cat videos on YouTube to distract you from your goals?
If so, you may have a productivity problem, my friend. And you’re not alone.
I’ve personally struggled with procrastination for much of my life, and despite being a somewhat respectable human, I feel there’s more untapped productivity fuel in the old tank.
So this article is as much for me as it is for you.
We’ll jump into the nuts and bolts of productivity soon, but first a little background.
(Advance warning: This is a behemoth of an article, so feel free to skip to a relevant section below)
- 1 The Procrastination Monster
- 2 What Is Productivity?
- 3 The Busyness Trap
- 4 Purpose
- 5 Health and Wellbeing
- 6 Best Time for Productivity
- 7 Where Is the Best Place to Be Productive?
- 8 How to Be Productive
- 9 Workflow
- 10 Productivity Basics
- 11 Reducing Friction
- 12 Automation
- 13 Habits
- 14 Momentum
- 15 Rituals
- 16 Morning Routine
- 17 Method
- 18 Productivity Tools
- 19 Tracking
- 20 Credibility
- 21 Accountability
- 22 Dangers
- 23 Struggles
- 24 Summary
- 25 Want More Mind-Tickling Thoughts?
The Procrastination Monster
During school, I constantly pushed the procrastination button, preferring the seductive delight of instant gratification to getting important work done ahead of time.
This led to numerous late nights, pre-deadline day, where I rushed to finish an essay or revise before an exam.
I was one of those people who felt they had all the time in the world when a piece of work was set, just to watch that time slip, ever quicker, through my stupid unproductive fingers.
I seemingly preferred to pressure of having a fast-approaching deadline to produce the goods. Unsurprisingly, this led to lots of stress and more than one crappy submission.
Fast forward, and I’ve now realised the importance of embracing the productive mindset to counter my procrastination tendency.
You see, it’s easy to treat the symptoms of procrastination and never fully address the cause.
When you’re feeling organised and productive, it helps lock the procrastination monster away, at least for a while.
What Is Productivity?
Productivity is simply the art (or science), of getting more stuff done, in less time.
You can seamlessly flow from one project or activity to the next, cruising through your calendar and striking items from the to-do list.
The more efficiently we perform, the more results we see from our focussed attention.
Being more productive essentially allows us to increase the value our time.
After all, it’s very easy to let the minutes, hours, days and years slip by, devoid of conscious awareness.
Seneca, the great Stoic philosopher of ancient Greece, expounded on the shortness of life, saying…
It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
The Busyness Trap
An important caveat is I’m not advocating constant busyness, which can be detrimental to mental health and wellbeing, a distraction from life itself.
It’s perfectly possible to be productive while doing nothing, as in meditation, walking in nature or spending time with loved ones.
The main differentiator, at least in my mind, is that we’re spending our time purposefully, so as to improve on this little rodeo we call life.
Many of us, when faced with the prospect of productivity, are beset by thoughts of manic, Type-A suits, rushing around from one meeting to the next, or anal productivity experts colour coding their underwear.
But productivity doesn’t have to be like this.
It’s enough to simply want to be a little more effective day to day.
Just like you needn’t be the next Roger Federer to enjoy a spot of tennis, you don’t have to be a productivity ninja to improve basic aspects of your life.
It’s simply a matter of deciding, ahead of time, how you want to spend your days.
The other important factor to note is that, while these tips work wonders for hard tasks and focussed attention, the kind of productivity I’m talking about in this article isn’t just for work tasks, but spans all activities – basically, doing more of the stuff you actually want to do.
Finding the time on a regular basis to engage in things that move you closer to desired outcomes (even though they’re hard and sometimes unappealing).
In this way, productivity shouldn’t be a vapid experiment filled solely with gimmicks, tricks and hacks.
While there can be some fun in this, inevitably these fixes aren’t strong enough to really provide meaningful change. If you’re trying to upgrade yourself, it normally needs to be in service of a bigger aim.
Therefore, before getting your highlighters out and buying new stationery, think about why you want to become more productive.
Ideally, your ‘why’ should dovetail with a greater purpose. Just take the person who wants to stop smoking or lose weight – two very difficult behaviour changes.
Often they only achieve results when they combine new habits with a vision, like being able to play with their children in the park, or just being alive for their graduation.
So, what’s the purpose of your desire to become more productive?
Is it to finally build that business you’ve been too scared to start? Only you will know.
However, on those difficult days, when the last thing you want to do it stick to your new habits, such reminders can help.
Health and Wellbeing
Before we talk about any shiny productivity hacks, we need to address the elephant in the room; health and wellbeing.
Even though this subject has been done to death, not least by me in other articles, it’s vital to mention how important a healthy mind and body are as a cornerstone for other work.
If you’re trying to become more productive but don’t take care of yourself, you’ll struggle unnecessarily.
Healthy habits have a huge butterfly effect on the rest of your life, automatically making you more productive, without extended effort needed.
So even if your productivity experiment stops here, you know you’ll have levelled up.
Healthy habits include sleeping at least 7 hours a night, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, socialising and doing some sort of mental hygiene practice, like meditation.
Let’s look at each one briefly:
Sleep – try to get 7-8 hours a night. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. Have a good wind-down routine.
Exercise – simply move your body more, even if that’s just walking every day. For best results, try to get a sweat on.
Diet – if you owned a thoroughbred racehorse, what would you feed it? Probably not a bunch of processed rubbish, but a healthy diet that improves performance. It should be the same for us.
Mental flossing – engage in an exercise to improve mental resilient and provide a new perspective on the world. Meditation is perfect for this.
Socialising – research shows that one of the biggest predictors of longevity is having a tight-knit social circle. This is vital, especially for self-employed folk or knowledge workers who may not get much face time.
Ok, so when you have the basics covered, you can move onto more practical techniques.
Best Time for Productivity
Well, there are two answers to this question.
In terms of lifetime, just like investing, it’s clearly better to embrace the productive mindset when we’re young.
If we can cement this philosophy, the compound interest of productive habits is exponential.
That said, becoming more productive at any age is a worthy pursuit and ultimately, your life trajectory means more than your starting point.
Even if you’re late to the game, you can likely accomplish far more than you think.
The second part of the answer is what time of day we’re more productive.
If you visit the Reddit productivity forums, you’ll see this FAQ is of the highest frequency.
Trawling through these answers, however, provides little insight.
While there’s certainly a cultural phenomenon to associate early risers with increased productivity, plenty of people on these platforms are night owls.
To be honest, though, there is a big overlap between the two – many late nighters and early risers may actually being getting their important work done at the same time – the most important feature seems to be solitude and freedom from distraction.
Where Is the Best Place to Be Productive?
Many of us want to become more productive immediately, before giving any thought to our environs.
Outward order, inner calm
That’s to say, it’s hugely difficult to implement productive practices in an ill-fitting environment.
If your work area is messy, so too will be your mind, creating a superfluous drain on mental energy.
It’s vital, therefore, to have space which is conducive to your planned changes.
Just like having a clean space, you need to organise your environment with the correct triggers.
If you’re trying to be productive in a room with a big TV, games console and comfortable couch, it’s going to be nigh impossible to adopt the right mindset to shift gears.
Modifying your environment to put bad practices out of reach and make good habits inevitable is essential.
And it’s not just the physical environment which plays a part, inasmuch as the people you surround yourself with also have a significant impact.
If the prevailing attitude among your peers is one of instant gratification and sloth, it’s extremely difficult to break the mould and implement productive practices.
From an evolutionary perspective, doing so risks criticism and ostracism from the group, threats to our very survival that we naturally try to avoid.
As self-help guru, Jim Rohn (probably) said,
You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with
How to Be Productive
So, you’ve chosen an area of your life you want to work on, ideally one aligned with a higher purpose greater than yourself.
The next step is to break the vision down into subtasks. Take a pen and paper and write out everything that will go into this aim.
Now, select the most high-value tasks on the list, ones that move the needle the most.
Many of us spend our time engaged in busywork, instead of high leverage activities.
To be more effective, we should utilise Pareto’s principle, focussing on the 20% of activities that deliver 80% of the results.
Once you’ve identified these activities, it’s far easier to optimise your workflow.
In terms of the nuts and bolts of the operation, there are a few vital steps:
Many of us unproductive folk think that, as we really know what needs to be done, we can let ourselves decide our high yield schedule in the moment.
The only problem?
We’re completely irrational creatures.
Humans, by nature, will always choose the path of least resistance and take the easy option.
This often means succumbing to fleeting fancy, sitting on the sofa and watching TV, stuffing our faces with sugary not-so-goodness.
Therefore, in our quest for betterment, we must fight this animal instinct with the higher cerebral functions accrued over the past few millennia.
This involves utilising a calendar.
At school, do you remember choosing when to go to lessons or did you have a timetable?
When we’re young, we accustomed to the routine of school and control over our day.
Emerging adults, in contrast, upon tasting sweet freedom after childhood, go too far the other way and forget the inherent benefits that calendar life can provide.
After all, knowing when and where you’re going to do something, ideally a high-value activity tied to your goals, will make you far more likely to follow through, as research has well shown.
So even though it might be annoying to set up and require constant tinkering to optimise, Google calendarise your day and put activities into a time slot, trying to be as accurate as possible.
Your first step on the road to the productive life is to try to stick to as much of that self-imposed timetable as possible.
It will be hard. I can safely say that as someone who’s self-employed and traditionally very prone to listening to the changing whims of my emotions.
However, when I’m loyal to timetable Gods, I’m infinitely more productive.
By Failing to prepare you are preparing to failBenjamin Franklin
This pithy statement is, annoyingly, quite accurate.
Every time I’ve ever woken up and had too much to organise that morning before working through the calendar, I’m always either behind or don’t want to start.
It gives us too much time to get in our own heads and for the demon thoughts to percolate, whispering sweet nothings in our ear.
In contrast, think about our behaviour when we have an early morning plane to catch.
What do we do when you have an unmissable deadline? Most prepare every detail the night before.
We have our bag packed, passport ready and taxi booked.
We know we have to wake up hideously early, so you want to minimise friction, so we can just get up and go.
Our new productivity routines should be the same.
Again, flights aside, I’ve traditionally been terrible at this. I would wake up, hunt for a fresh pair of gym socks in the laundry, progressively getting more frustrated.
A good day begins the night before, so think what you can do to be kind to your future self, and then do it.
As we’ve already said, perhaps the most important productivity factor is planning.
Simply take a few minutes and list out your big goals, then drill down into the subtasks needed to achieve them.
Star the most important of these.
Now, how can you better design your life to regularly incorporate these important tasks?
Start small. It’s no use saying that you’ll go to the gym every day if you’ve never exercised before. Begin with a gentle walk every day and build from there.
Once you’ve mastered something small, increase the level of discomfort slightly, carrying forward your emerging confidence into bigger challenges.
It’s more about showing up and doing the small things.
The more friction involved in a certain productive activity, the less likely it gets done.
You see, we often fail to recognise how much time we waste needlessly in activities that could be optimised.
Just through simple structuring of our environment, we can save valuable time on repetitive tasks.
If you always have to use the phone for work, is it placed strategically on your desk for maximum efficiency? Is your smoothie machine in an accessible part of the kitchen for easy use? Are you always hunting for gym clothes every morning instead of having a designated spot for them?
Just making small organisational or ergonomic changes can have profound productivity effects.
If you’re a knowledge worker like me, your online life will be one of the best and easiest places to reduce friction.
You can do this in a variety of ways, including creating a better filing system, with naming conventions and folders for improved search.
Having note-taking systems and to-do lists allow you to manage your thoughts and tasks efficiently while organising your email inbox can help avoid overwhelm and maintain focus.
Also, implementing bookmarks and shortcuts reduce needless clicks and mouse use.
Such tiny actions, although seemingly insignificant, compound, leading to healthy time savings.
A prime way to reduce friction in our lives is through automation.
By getting something or someone else to do a regular activity liberates more time to spend on higher priority activities.
Although the upfront costs of reducing friction can be high, the productivity boost we experience over time more than compensates.
Luckily, with the proliferation of the Internet, tools abound for automating various aspects of our lives.
Just take investing, where we can direct a portion of our salary payment to our savings account. Or shopping, where we can get everyday essentials delivered on a regular basis. Perhaps you could even book the same time and day for a haircut every couple of months to reduce mental taxation.
Simple things like setting your phone alarm to activate at the same time every morning mean we avoid having to enter it manually.
As these mini-actions accumulate, we begin to glide through our days more seamlessly, safe in the knowledge that our attention is conserved for important tasks.
There’s a strong correlation between productivity and habits and both tend to utilise the same mindsets, tools and techniques. Without good habits, it’s impossible to be productive, and certainly being a productive person helps instil new habits.
Habits and systems are the cornerstones of productivity, and basically the highest leverage activities you can adopt.
Having well-worn routines puts us on autopilot and eliminates unnecessary pondering, allowing us to proceed apace with our work.
We’re not overthinking. We simply act.
Conversely, the brain hates indecision and lack of control. It likes to know exactly what it’s doing next, so it can focus on the immediate task.
Just remember when you learnt to drive. Your brain was hugely uncomfortable at first, devoting all of its resources to keeping the car on the road.
After much practice, sub-routines formed to make the process automatic. You could finally relax and enjoy the driving experience.
Having good habits and systems, in this way, allows you to enter the flow state more effectively and do the deep work required to be more effective.
You eliminate wasted time and as you hone your habits, you learn when and where to use them in your calendar.
Momentum is a huge factor for productivity. That’s why having your calendar organised correctly is vital.
Waking up with a solid morning routine allows us to quell our conscious, thinking brain and simply progress with our highest priorities.
There’s no time for doubt or self-reflection, as this type of overthinking simply prevents meaningful action.
But a wonderful thing starts to happen as your routine becomes ingrained – you build momentum through the day.
Ticking items off the to-do list generate more speed to carry into the next task.
This reduces the activation energy required for each new activity creating even more acceleration potential.
After all, it’s far easier to gain speed in a moving vehicle
Sure, you may hit some walls, but acceleration you’ve achieved earlier in the day can help carry you through.
I’m a bit of a book nerd, especially regarding the daily routines of famous creatives.
These great authors and artists, however debaucherous their behaviour, always appear to have rituals that structure their lives, and therefore their art.
Such rituals, including having set times and places for our important activities, prime our brains for important tasks.
Much like going to bed, where we’ve trained ourselves over a lifetime to sleep with a particular wind-down routine, so the same follows with work.
Operating from the same place, at the same time can cue deep works and flow states.
I have a similar technique with meditation performing it at the same time and in the same place, allowing my mind to adopt the correct posture before I even begin to focus on my breath.
Part of developing good habits involves nailing a productive morning routine.
Starting the day off right will have positive repercussions that allow you to carry that form into other work.
Firstly, starting our day the night before, by having every task laid out in the calendar, enables us to roll out of bed and tackle them sequentially.
What we’ve failed to mention, however, is that it’s often advisable to do either your most difficult, uncomfortable or high-value activities first.
Get these out of the way and you’ll experience a feel-good dopamine hit like no other.
It also ensures that you’re making significant progress on your main goals before any of the usual daily irritations intervene.
I now have a pretty good morning routine, which involves writing (as I’m doing with this post now), exercise and meditation.
I’ve gone a bit back and forth with the exercise. As I’m generally a morning person and feel pretty alert in the early hours, I’ve often thought it may be better to expand my creative heavy-lifting time in the early hours and save exercise for my afternoon slump.
However, in practice, I found that appointments or meetings always crop up and prevent gym time.
As health and wellbeing are the foundation of every other productive practice and inherent for an enjoyable life, I’ve therefore moved these activities back to the top of the list.
So many people have different frameworks for productivity, and honestly, there’s no right or wrong approach. One popular method seems to be the Getting Things Done approach, based on a famous book by David Allen.
If you have a specific practice you want to follow, then great.
However, as with all systems, people become obsessed with the minutia of productivity and having the best tools or apps.
Just remember, there’s no perfect solution and each one will vary in utility, depending on your needs.
The important thing with productivity is not to get bogged down in the details, as it can be just another form of procrastination.
Finding the perfect system or tool is often just another way of delaying the actions we know we need to take.
So, while tools can be extremely useful, try to avoid shiny object syndrome, because the more you change your workflow, the harder it is to adopt a productive rhythm.
By all means, if the ultimate solution emerges, investigate it, but only change after some serious thought.
As I’m a knowledge-working laptop monkey by trade, some of what I list here will be more appropriate to the type of work I do and your own mileage may vary. Anyway, here’s my current stack of tools:
I use Google Apps for business, which provides my email, storage and an integrated combination of tools like spreadsheets, for a small monthly fee.
I also make use of their domain name alias to have custom emails for a couple of different websites, all included in the price.
If you don’t have business needs, then the free Gmail is fine.
As I’ve said before, it’s free and pretty much everyone uses it, so no reason not to join the fun.
This is a recent find and it functions as both a habit tracker and streak recorder. I really enjoy seeing how many days in a row I’ve done a particular activity.
If you’ve read my habits article, you’ll know about the Seinfeld strategy of habit formation and this app gives you some lovely stats on your adherence to new routines.
What I like about it is that it’s completely free and open-source, while also keeping your data secure. It’s customisable so as to track any desired activity with different metrics.
I’m still experimenting, so will report back.
Working as a freelancer, tracking client time is essential.
Toggl also comes with a built-in Pomodoro timer, which helps with spaced work sessions and recovery.
However, I’m increasingly finding that the benefits of time tracking extend far beyond client work.
Just knowing where your time goes is hugely powerful. We constantly tell ourselves fantastical stories about how productive we’ve been.
In contrast, Toggl doesn’t lie, especially when you’ve been diligent about turning the timer off every time you make coffee or go to the toilet.
This information can empower you to get back to work. Plus, it’s free to use.
Just as Toggl works well to track general time, you could also incorporate its Pomodoro timer setting, or employ a different app for this.
The Pomodoro Method is a productivity time technique, which involves working in focussed blocks of 25 minutes, before taking a 5-minute break.
You repeat this cycle four times with a slightly longer break between work blocks.
During these 25-minute work sessions, the aim is to engage in deep, attentive work with zero distraction, pushing yourself to get as much done within the time period as possible.
Studies have shown that deep work with break rationing can help us remain more alert and productive.
In my job, an effective note-taking is crucial.
That’s not to say it isn’t useful for general life as well though. We’re suffocating under such a deluge of information these days that we often need a second digital brain to categorise all the gems we encounter in Internet land.
For a while, my go-to application has been Evernote, because it allows you to easily clip articles or sections of websites into notes, which (hopefully) you’ve organised into specific themes via stacks, notebooks and tags.
Evernote has a desktop application and mobile app and is based on a freemium model, which provides plenty of scope for most personal users.
It does have some competition from other companies but is still a premier note-taking choice, used by around 220 million people.
One emerging tool that seems to have gained huge popularity recently, and is showing serious multi-application potential, is Notion.
This is predominantly because it’s a hugely versatile tool, allowing you to combine the notetaking power of Evernote, the Kanban to-do lists of Trello, some of the spreadsheet functionality fo Google sheets and even the CRM of Airtable.
It’s pretty minimalist in design, supporting markdown, and like the other tools, permits collaboration with team members.
One of Notion’s great features is the ability to nest hierarchies.
This is really where Evernote falls down in my opinion – you can only create two main levels of hierarchy (notebooks and stacks), supplemented with tags, whereas Notion allows you to utilise as many sub-hierarchies as you want, with customisable templates for each.
You get 1,000 free blocks (chunks of text), on a free account, and have to pay a subscription if you want unlimited data entry.
Combined with your calendar, it’s great to have a more specific tool to act as an itemised to-do list.
In this way, I tend to use my Google calendar as a reminder of my general schedule +/- any specific meetings or events, while Trello primarily acts as a project or task-based to-do list.
Again, it’s free for personal users, making it an ideal solution if you’re getting started. You can even collaborate with colleagues, meaning it’s completely functional for most business users as well.
Paying for an upgrade does unlock certain integrations, although I haven’t found this necessary as yet.
The great thing about Trello is that it provides a visual Kanban-style board, where you can move the tasks from left to right on your to-do list, across the board, as they’re actioned in real-time.
This allows you to see both the status of individual tasks and also visualise the movement of projects as they’re completed.
Ideally, the board on the far left will consist of general notes and the board on the right will house completed tasks, allowing you to braindump your to-do’s and then review completed entries by checking your archived action items.
The Most Dangerous Writing Prompt Generator
One of the apps that seem to be working brilliantly for my writing productivity is the tool I’m using to create this article.
The Most Dangerous Writing Prompt Generator was designed with one primary function in mind – to abolish our inner critic and let words flow onto the page uninterrupted.
To do this, you have to keep typing for a predetermined length of time and if you stop hitting keys, the screen slowly turns red, before trashing everything you’ve written.
I prefer writing for 30 minutes usually, to give some consequence to losing your work. Otherwise, losing 3 minutes worth of work isn’t such a big deal.
It even has a hardcore mode, which blurs what you’ve written completely, so you can’t keep re-reading it.
I’ve found this amazing just to get words out, which can be edited later.
Any writing technique which taps the goldmine of our subconscious can harness an inner creative force, generating innovative connections and breakthrough ideas.
Another great tip is to archive our emails as soon as we receive them, depending on whether they require any further action.
Otherwise, for those you don’t need, simply delete them right away.
Try to clean your email inboxes at the end of each day.
Having a clear external and internal environment encourages us to remain organised and focused, rather than absorbing needless mental energy.
If our current inbox is overwhelming, simply declare email bankruptcy to every everyone you haven’t replied to, archive your emails and start afresh.
A primary way to increase productivity is through tracking.
Seeing our output in real-time and raw data is a stark reminder of what we’re accomplishing.
So often we tell ourselves stories about our hard work. After all, our brain’s an invention machine, capable of weaving the most intricate fantasies to reduce cognitive dissonance.
To bypass these stories and get an unfiltered view of our day-to-day, behaviour tracking can be incredibly useful.
This could involve tracking time, output or performance.
A word of caution, however – it’s far better to track activities which are within your control.
For example, I could easily say I want to make a billion dollars this year, but as well as being pretty unlikely, that result is ultimately out of my control.
What I can say is that I want to write one blog post a week.
By tracking systems and processes, the goals should, in theory, take care of themselves.
The other benefit of tracking your new productivity systems is that it lets you engage in a process of Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement.
When collecting data on your daily actions, it’s easier to know whether small tweaks are having the desired effect.
In this sense, you can constantly test new approaches to see if they benefit your performance and production.
Productivity, if approached correctly, isn’t always about striving towards a particular outcome or goal – rather, it’s doing the things you say you’re going to do.
In other words, it’s about building credibility with yourself.
After all, sometimes it’s hard to know when we’re being productive, especially when that output is linked to amorphous tasks, the results of which may be only be experienced far off into the future.
But the feeling of gaining credibility with yourself when you put in a productive repetition can’t be mistaken.
If I commit to going to the gym tomorrow and follow through, the sense of satisfaction I get from sticking to my promise is a reward in itself.
For chronic procrastinators, accountability can play an important part in breaking the cycle.
For example, you can easily announce plans to your friends, using their support to initiate a new behaviour.
Perhaps one of the best ways to stay accountable to the productive lifestyle is through face-to-face groups, socialising with those on a similar journey.
If you’ve booked sessions with a personal trainer, for example, it will be far harder to endure the social stigma of standing them up over the short term gratification of eating dark chocolate in your pyjamas.
This is probably why masterminds and peer groups are so popular. The group spirit fortifies us, even when we don’t feel individually motivated.
Another accountability method, which I’ve seen work well for some, is betting money on yourself.
In this sense, you’re raising the stakes of playing the productivity game.
If you’re determined to lose weight, for example, you could sign up to a website like Beeminder and bet on yourself to exercise three times a week – if you don’t live up to your new productive behaviour, that money is then sent to the company or a charity of choice.
There are, of course, dangers to the productive life, one of them being that you regard productivity as an end in itself.
It’s easy to take productivity too far and become super anal and annoying, unable to go with the flow or kick back and relax.
You might get so into the lifestyle that you find it hard to rest and feel guilty whenever you’re not working.
Becoming more productive, therefore, needs to be balanced with playfulness, enjoyment and a healthy social life.
You’ll often see the type A personalities drawn to the productivity world because they’re driven to optimise their time to the nth degree.
Part of this desire stems from a need for control.
The world is a chaotic place and the productivity systems, methods and routines make the universe feel more relatable and ordered, a way of appeasing our existential angst.
However, it’s vital to know that no productivity hack or apps insulate us from the need to be adaptable enough to cope with change when it arises.
Even if you’ve read this far and possess all the productivity hacks, tools, systems and apps in the world, perhaps you still find yourself procrastinating, unable to get out of bed, or away from pseudo-motivational YouTube videos.
As we’ve said, behaviour change is hard, but if you’re truly unable to overcome the resistance, it may be because this behaviour change isn’t linked to a big enough goal.
You have to desire something enough to overcome the discomfort of change.
Otherwise, you’re prioritising your current comfort over future progress.
There’s nothing wrong with this.
Perhaps it’s evidence that actually, you don’t want to write that book, or start a business.
Seeing successful people, it’s sometimes easy to wonder how the hell they fit so much stuff into each day.
They seem like machines.
But the thing is, we’re all equal. Despite all the apparent advantages wealth brings, we all share the same basic resource.
No matter who we are, we have 24 hours a day to put to good use.
Rather than being jealous of success, we can model habits and behaviours that are shown to work.
Are successful people vegging out watching three hours of Netflix every night? Probably not.
Are they scrolling through social media on their phones or embroiled in needless intrigue and gossip? I doubt it.
They simply make different choices that liberate more time to invest in high priority activities.
They delay the impulse for instant gratification and embrace the discomfort of the moment, knowing that it provides greater future returns.
So know that tweaks in your own life can deliver similar results, but only if you’re willing to embrace the pain of change and put the productive life into action.