Most days I’m quite a productive person, l get a lot of shit done. Then there are days when I wake up, feeling like crap, don’t want to get out of bed. On days like this, I know right away that this is going to be a mentally taxing day. I'm sluggish, irritable, short-tempered, don't feel like working, pretty much not my most efficient self.
I'm sure you have days like this as well. It's humanly impossible to run on full mental capacity all 24 hours, 365 days a year. How do we avoid days like these? Well, you can't. What you can do is, be more productive on the regular so that bad days like this don't matter at the macro level.
So before we get into discussing how to be more productive, lets first talk about what is productivity?
PRODUCTIVITY means completing the task in hand with less time and effort. When you’re trying to understand how to be productive, what you’re seeking is a way to achieve your goals while having time to spend on what matters. What productivity doesn't mean is, being busy all the time, rather appearing to be busy. You may have seen those colleagues at work, at their desk "working" from 9 to 5, no breaks, stressed AF, trying to meet deadlines. Do you think they are productive? Well, the answer lies in how much did they actually achieve in those 8 hours. When you’re being productive, you won’t be chasing deadlines or running five steps behind on everything or stacked with tasks yet to be done. On the contrary, you’ll probably be ahead of schedule.
So how can you be more productive?
1. Wake up earlier
Do you know the famous Hollywood actor, Mark Walberg? for those of you who don't know him, he was the highest-paid actor of 2017, who made $68m according to Forbes. A little while back, Mark posted an Instagram story showing his daily schedule, while working on a role. What caught everyone's attention was that his day starts at 2.30 am and ends at 7.30 pm! His typical day involves two workouts, Golf, four meals, three snacks, and one recovery session in a Cryotherapy Chamber. Apart from all this, he is still able to make time for work, family and also picking his kids up from school.
Now I'm not saying that you need to get into this intense schedule to feel accomplished. What you need to do is, take baby steps. Wake up an hour earlier than you usually do. Make this a habit. By doing this, you get an extra hour in your day. Yes, this means you may have to go to bed slightly earlier, but nobody gets jack-shit done after 2 am anyway.
So put your late-night social media shenanigans and Netflix aside and go to bed on time.
2. The 2 Minute Rule
World-famous productivity consultant and author of the book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity", David Allen talks about the 2-minute rule. Unlike the 5-second rule, the 2-minute rule holds some ground and could help you in the long run.
The 2-minute rule states that if you can accomplish the task at hand in under 2 minutes, do it right now. As simple as that.
Stuff like cleaning your desk, making that phone call, sending out that email, etc. Now let's get real here. Not every goal we set for ourselves can be completed in under 2 minutes, right? Does that mean we keep pushing the big stuff out? short answer, NO! The 2-minute rule should help spark a sense of responsibility and kick procrastination in the butt. Now, hold on to this feeling, make it a habit, chase this feeling. Once procrastination is out the window, nothing is stopping you from achieving your goals.
3. Make To-Do Lists
Now that you know how to go about executing your tasks with the 2-minute rule, you need to jot them down on a piece of paper and put it in a prominent place for you to be able to see it all the time. I know you already knew that, but here's the catch. I want you to break these tasks down into more achievable, bite-sized sub-tasks, every day. As you go through these tasks, cross them off the list.
Each time you cross a task off this list, you feel like you just succeeded. These small bursts of accomplishment trigger the release of Dopamine in the brain, the “Feel Good” chemical. Dopamine drives feelings of pleasure, motivation and the ability to think and plan. When we feel these effects, we’re eager to repeat the actions that resulted in that success in the first place, this trains the brain to keep crossing off more items.
Chase the dope! The more you do it, the more you'll want to do it.
Confession: I've been hoarding heaps of to-do lists on which each item crossed off! It helps me keep track of things to a certain degree but more than that, it just makes me feel great.
4. No More Inert days
This one is for your long term goals in life. Goals like learning a new technology, starting a new business, losing weight, learning a new language and so on.
This majorly comes into play for the days when you're just not in the zone. You need to make some sort of progress towards your life goal. Follow the 2-minute rule and take baby steps. Writing a book? finish just one paragraph today. Trying to lose weight? Do just 5 push-ups today.
All you have to do is make tiny progress towards your goal, every day, till you achieve what you've set out for.
5. Try Cognitive Enhancers
Following the above points will surely boost your overall productivity. Now here's the cheat code, there are supplements available in the market called Nootropics. These supplements are known to boost your mental performance. You can read more about these supplements in detail on our blog "What are Nootropics?"
You will need to experiment with multiple compounds and dosages to find the perfect stack for yourself. A great product to start with is Kenshō ELEVATE - a botanical nootropic blend that has a balanced, FSSAI approved formulation that will give your brain the right nutrition to take the first step to a new improved and more productive version of yourself.