Whether your goal is to start your own business, write a book, or learn a new skill, distraction and procrastination are the enemy. Is there anything more frustrating than watching the day slip away and your goals go up in smoke?
It doesn’t have to be like that. The best way to learn how to be more productive is by listening people who are productive. Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of the most brilliant and successful entrepreneurs, innovators, and authors on the planet.
Many of them had powerful and insightful advice on getting things done, so I’ve decided to share a few of their tips here. Of course, each Optimized Geek episode is packed full of practical wisdom, so if you want more, simply click on the links below!
1. If You Ever Find Yourself Stuck, Use This One Simple Trick to Get in the Zone
“You’re sitting down at your computer and for some reason you just can’t get into the groove. It happens to all of us. It’s Wednesday morning and it’s 9:30am and you’ve got to get a report delivered in an hour and you’re sitting there spinning your wheels. What do you do? Put your fingers in the palms of both hands, so that you’ve got all four fingers in the palms of your hands. At the same time, scrunch up your toes in your shoes. Scrunch your hands together like you’re making a fist but you’re really pushing your fingers into the palms of your hands and scrunching up your toes in your shoes. As you do that, take a big deep breath in and out. Somehow, it creates a somatic trick. It’s just a trick to get you off the block […] because once you start working, you’re able to keep going.” – Will Henshall
2. Start Your Day Off Right by Writing Down Your Morning Routine the Night Before
“You win tomorrow today by writing down tomorrow’s morning routine tonight, before you go to bed. That way when you wake up and you’re tired and you’re groggy and you’re stumbling around not really sure exactly what you’re gonna do […] you don’t need to use the four brain cells that have woken up to figure out what you’re going to do. No! There’s none of that. You are going to crush your morning routine.” – John Lee Dumas
3. Try and Get Your Inbox Back to Zero Emails Every 24 – 48 Hours
“The bigger your backlog, the harder it is to deal with surprise. Here is a hypothetical: what if you knew — it is kind of an oxymoronic idea — but what if you absolutely knew there was a huge surprise coming towards you in five days? Huge, humongous — one of the biggest in your life. It could be good, it could be bad, you don’t know what the content of the surprise is, you just know it is going to be a surprise. What would you be doing? Would you be just letting your email pile up or are you going to be getting ready for a surprise? And how would you get ready for that surprise? Probably if you are me, I must be getting rid of every single open loop, clarifying every single thing, so that when something happened, I had total flexibility and no residue on either physically or psychologically, so that I could recalibrate and refocus on whatever this thing was.” – David Allen
4. Create a Daily Schedule That’s Tailored to Your Energy Levels
“Pay attention to your energy levels. I’m not a morning person, so I’m a night owl. I know that my highest point of creative work is in the late afternoon to evening. My point to reserve my willpower to make sure I do my high-level creative work is I front-end load my day with the minutia, the low-ebb tasks, the administrative tasks, the tasks that don’t take up too much of my energy. Because you’re right, willpower wanes throughout the day, and by the end of the day, if I did all my high energy tasks in the morning, I know the outcome is not going to be as strong because it is not when I’m at my best. So again, take a look at who you are, your body clock. If you want to adjust your body clock to become a morning person, that is totally up to you. I think that honestly is a waste of energy. I think your energy could be better channeled into getting the right outcomes and getting the tasks you really want to make sure are delivered at a high quality. Again the tip is to monitor your energy and act accordingly.” – Mike Vardy
5. Outsource (or Delegate) Outcomes Instead of Tasks
“One of the things that I often tell people is, especially when they’re looking at starting to outsource, they’re like, “What can I have outsourced?” People think of it very tasked based and I like to shift that thinking a little bit, and tell them, “Why don’t you just outsource outcomes instead of tasks?” I love this. For you, your only job is do a great interview. Beyond that, everything else, the outcome of this episode going live is now the responsibility of a team of people working alongside you. That’s where you can get traction in your business. Instead of one off little tasks here and there, you’ve outsourced that entire outcome which is beautiful. Very good, good job.” – Trivinia Barber
6. Practice a Low-Information Diet
“What I do these days is, I tend to limit my core competencies so much to just two or three activities that I focus on that I will actively hire people who I know are keeping up with their specific domain of expertise. I am not an expert in search engine optimization because it’s something that you really need to be dedicated to. I have other areas that I feel are my strengths so I will go out and I will hire somebody who is an expert in search engine optimization and it’s their job to keep up-to-date with all of various developments, algorithm changes, etcetera. However, I really think that developing this selective ignorance and following a low-information diet is key to being good at anything. It’s really looking at delegation and partnering so that you surround yourself with other people who are sifting and assimilating information rather than depending on yourself to do it all.” – Tim Ferriss
7. Train Yourself to Concentrate for Long Periods Using the Pomodoro Technique
“One thing you can do is, actually, interval training. You can take something like the Pomodoro Technique where you’re going to give yourself a fixed amount of time, and during that time you’re going to concentrate intensely on a single task. If you break your concentration at all — even just a quick check of an email inbox or a phone — you have to reset the timer; the Pomodoro doesn’t count. If you start those at a small amount of time, and then after you’re succeeding at a frequent basis with that amount of time, you add 10 minutes, you do that until you’re succeeding with a new amount of time, you add 10 minutes, you can basically replicate similar to interval training that you would do for running times or muscle training. You can start at 20 minutes at a time if you’re brand new to deep work, and over a period of six months, you might end up at a place where you can then very comfortably go 90 minutes to 2 hours without needing distraction.” – Cal Newport
For more great content on productivity, biohacking, health, and business, check out the Optimized Geek website.