I recently came across this article by Chris Bailey, where he has a website that catalogued his journey in the search to become as productive as possible in a year. He conducted productivity tests on himself, read a lot of books and academic literature on the subject, watched countless hours of videos on the topic, interviewed some of the most productive people in the world and basically did anything and everything to increase his productivity – all in the pursuit of becoming as productive as possible.
These are the 10 most important tips he learned from a year of chasing his passion for productivity:
#10 – Work on your highest-leverage tasks
Which 3 core tasks contribute the most to your work, business or organization? Focus on those tasks, which make up 80 to even 90% of your value. Everything else is a support or complementary task. This ritual can also be used for the three most important activities for your mind, body, finances and relationships.
#9 – The most effective way(s) are the most-often quoted
Eat well, get enough sleep, exercise.
It’s the clichéd advice we’ve heard one too many times, but also apparently the most effective way, hence the reason why it’s stuck around for so long that we’ve become sick of hearing it. Even after experimenting with various habits and productivity techniques, Bailey found that this piece of advice still worked the best.
#8 – Follow what works for you instead of following blanket productivity advice
Besides the “eat well, get enough sleep, exercise” mantra, there are loads of productivity advice out there. What works for other people may not work for you, everybody has different priorities and perspectives, so it’s absolutely fine to go against conventional wisdom if something else works better for you. At the end of the day, it’s all about adopting the best way to up your productivity.
#7 – Good habits = automatic productivity
Research says that 40-45% of our daily activities are automatic habits. (Yes, that includes checking Facebook.) Forming new habits can take some time and effort, but once a new behaviour becomes a habit, you’ll automatically ‘level up’ to become more productive. Waking up earlier in the morning, eating healthy food, reading the news daily… these are just some examples of learned habits that help you become more productive automatically.
#6 – Productivity is good management of time, energy and attention
Towards the end of his project, Chris found that productivity was essentially a combination of three ingredients – time, energy and attention.
Think about it: if you have lots of energy and are extremely focused, but can’t manage your time well, you won’t be able to do things in time; when you have a lot of time and energy, but can’t pay attention to tasks, you’ll procrastinate and never finish doing anything; likewise, even if you’re super focused and can manage your time well, without energy you tend to drag your feet and can’t get a lot done.
Want to find out the other five tips? Find out in Part II of the article! 🙂