What was your most productive day ever? If you can't think of one, maybe it hasn't happened yet.
Start The Day Rested
Whether you're productive at all may depend on the first decision you make—when to wake up. So says Neil Patel in his article How I Run 3 Multi-Million-Dollar Companies While Getting 9.25 Hours of Sleep a Night.
When he was rising early, Neil was constantly tired, which led to bad decisions. He knew something had to change, so he tried sleeping in. That simple decision nearly doubled his productivity.
I reply to around 400 emails each day. When I was averaging four to five hours of sleep, it took me four hours to go through my email. Once I began sleeping for 9.25 hours, I got through my emails in 2.5 hours!
Get To The Office—Or Don't
Assuming you don't need to sleep in, the first step of your work day is getting to the office. But what if you didn't have an office, or even a permanent home? Jay Meistrich is a convert to the digital nomad lifestyle.
"It’s cheaper, more productive and more inspiring than sitting in one place," he writes in How I Built a Startup While Traveling to 20 Countries.
In San Francisco, Meistrich's rent was $2,500/month. In Tokyo, Stockholm, and Budapest he stayed in hostels that cost well under $1,000/month. But the money he's saving isn't the biggest key.
I was surprised to find out that I’m significantly more productive while traveling. But it makes sense. If I’m only in Rome for a week, why would I waste my time on Facebook? Being constantly surrounded by novelty reduces my boredom and increases my focus, and even makes me feel healthier and more creative.
Make Success Meaningful
Whether you're working from your cubicle or a cafe near the Colosseum, you need to believe in the work that you're doing.
In How I Learned To Stop Comparing Myself To Others, And Love My Own Ideas, CEO Meredith Fineman explains that her need to achieve nearly sunk the digital PR agency she started.
At the height of being lost and "in it" when starting my business, I couldn't look at listserves of other wonderful women and entrepreneurs, or read stories about other successes, because I felt like a constant failure.
Success only happened once she started focusing on her own abilities: "Make your own definition of success, and leave that to only you," she writes.
Check Off Your Daily Habit
Is your to-do list filled with tasks that will lead to success? Accomplishing big goals means forming consistent habits, writes Belle Cooper in How I Became A Morning Person, Read More Books, And Learned A Language In A Year.
Belle started reading one page, and doing one short online French lesson, every day. Once she got consistent at those daily habits, she increased her daily goal. By the end of the year she'd doubled her reading and could read and write French.
The same idea of practice and repetition helped Barbara Oakley go from flunking high school algebra to becoming a professor of engineering. She writes about it in How I Rewired My Brain To Become Fluent In Math.
Keeping up a daily habit can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to. Isaac Morehouse, Founder & CEO of Praxis, offers some terrific tips—and hard truths—in How I Learned to Get a Lot Done Without Being Busy. One of his biggest breakthroughs came when he started to say "no", ruthlessly.
One of my goals is every day to ask myself what things I’m doing that I don’t like doing. Identify them. Then ask how I can begin to work to not do those things any longer.
It’s amazing how many layers of subtle pressure, guilt, manipulation, expectation, and people-pleasing our desires are wrapped up in. Unwrapping this mess and getting to the core — the real you, with your real, unique desires — is tough work, and requires a lot of ‘no’ along the way.
When you do say no, you'll have the blocks of time you need to make real progress. You many not even need an hour.
- Lauren Holliday came up with a unique pitch to recruiters: How I Landed 15 Job Interviews In 30 Minutes.
- Best-selling author Tim Ferriss turned a cognitive experiment into a productivity hack: How I Learned To Read 300 Percent Faster In 20 Minutes.
If you haven't said no enough, you may find yourself in the same situation as Nina Semczuk did. In Here's How I Survived 16+ Hour Workdays Without Losing It, she describes her "prepare and stash" method for getting enough food and exercise.
What do these tips have in common? They all maximize productivity by minimizing chaos. Uneven sleep patterns, scraping by to pay rent, tasks piling up you don't really care about—these all distract you from being at your most productive. Find ways to eliminate chaos, and you'll be setting new productivity records every day.