Is the productivity equation as simple as this:

working harder and smarter + time management = being productive

Many of us think that productivity is doing more in a specified time frame or just keeping busy. In reality, we can’t bulldoze our way through the things we need to do without leaving a mess behind.

So, what do you do next? Google it of course!

productivity like a pro

A quick search and a variety of life hacks, articles, mobile and desktop applications, motivational quotes, music playlists, tips, tricks and insights are at your fingertips. The question then shifts to how many of us apply ourselves based on what we have read, seen and/or heard? Or has skimming through articles and lists conditioned us to only make ‘mental notes’ that we forget?

To help you master productivity like a pro, we’ve assembled advice from the top guns. Such as business magnate, investor and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson, Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Charles Duhigg, financial guru, writer, presenter, actor and comedian Dominic Frisby, productivity coach Kirstin O’Donovan as well as the entrepreneur and author, Taylor Pearson.

Read on and then get moving!

Cultivate Courage

When you are ready to master productivity, start by having courage. More often than not, having the courage to start on a daunting or heavy task makes all the difference.

Pro Insight: Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave. – Mary Tyler Moore

Good Habits

Get out of your own way. When you develop good habits and put them into practice, they become second nature. Like eating healthy or exercising daily, for example. In fact, it’s been said that a majority of what we do is a force of habit so it’s important to practice good ones. This frees your conscious mind from having to make deliberate minor choices daily that takes your focus away from major decisions.

Pro Insight: “In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” – Tony Robbins

Decisions, decisions

Sometimes, we get stuck in the decision-making process. The key here is to not let the fear of making mistakes discourage you from deciding at all. There is no right or wrong decision, instead, you learn what works and what doesn’t for you to do better.

Pro Insight: There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction. – John F. Kennedy

Work & Play

It is important to enjoy what you do. Put the fun back into your work day by taking short breaks. Grab a snack, listen to your favourite music or go for a walk around the office. The key takeaway here is that you should acknowledge your work and reward yourself.

Pro Insight: “Find a “comfort food” for your mind. Know what you can do with your brain that will give you a comforting break from your worries, at least for a little while. By doing so, you’ll recharge your battery, find it easier to stay calm and cheerful, and find it easier to take action to remedy a situation.” – Gretchen Rubin

Write it Down

We are spoiled by our mobile device(s). Typing is faster but if you take the time to write down your notes, you will remember things better.

Pro Insight: “When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.” – Michael Leboeuf

The Pareto Principle

80% results, 20% effort. This principle teaches us to identify significant tasks that require less time to complete. Cross them off the list first.

Pro Insight: “The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey

Weekend Work

Don’t feel outraged and close this tab just yet! If you set aside 1 – 2 hours over the weekend to accomplish certain work tasks, it will help free up your time during the workweek. It also means you can tackle any ad hoc tasks without feeling anxious or stressed.

Pro Insight: “Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso

The Grouping Effect

Get things done in batches. For example, set aside a specific amount of time a day to attend to your emails and make phone calls.

Pro Insight: “Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

Seek Feedback

Asking for feedback periodically can help refresh your point of view and even provide solutions for something you may have otherwise missed.

Pro Insight: “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

Reflect & Optimise

As your day winds down, take some time to evaluate how you handled tasks and how much time you spent on each. Optimise and improve your processes accordingly.

Pro Insight: Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night. – Michael Jordan


What’s your go-to productivity life hack? Share it with us in the comments below!

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