“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done” - Bruce Lee
Time to talk about productivity and ‘Getting shit done’
Getting shit done, is something that I believe everyone struggles with on a regular basis but some seem to struggle with a lot more frequently than others.
What separates those who routinely get shit done, from those who don’t?
Those who routinely are achieving bigger and better things and those who aren’t?
Those who are routinely achieving success, achieving their goals and moving closer to where they want to be and those who sit in the same place year after year, decade after decade?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit”
The difference is that those who regularly achieve have the ‘BE’ mentality
There are three different mentalities that people generally have.
- The ‘Have Mentality’
“I wish I had this”
The have mentality is where people say they want to have the body, have the job, have more money, have the house, have the lifestyle etc.
- The ‘Do Mentality’
This for example is someone who does a 12 week body transformation challenge.
They do the challenge, they put in the hard work and then they get great results.
However afterwards they go back to their old habits and ways, the wheels fall off and they wind up back where they started because they didn't adopt the correct mindset.
The whole time they were just doing the actions needed, they stayed motivated by a deadline and results but they didn’t make the important mentality shift needed to maintain those actions long term.
You may this kind of person say something like
“Ohh I can’t wait to just eat whatever I want again, after this challenge”
- The ‘Be Mentality’
‘Be the person first, do the actions, have the result’
The ‘be mentality’ is where you focus on being the person first and the result will come later.
If you’re goal is to succeed in business, ask yourself what person do you need to be right now, this instant, today to reach that level of success?
Does that person sleep in, waste crucial time in the morning and then knock off early and say “ohh I will just get that done tomorrow”?
Does that person get up earlier than most, get to work and start smashing out planned actionable tasks that will help move them closer towards their goals?
If you sit back and think, “ohh I will do that when I’m successful” or “I will wait until I’m making this much money before I do that” you will never be successful or make that much money.
Everyone wants to have the body, have more energy, have the big house, have the nice car, go on more holidays, have a more fulfilling life but no one wants to be the person right now, today that is needed to attain these things.
Be the person first, then do the actions and tasks needed day in, day out, year after year and then finally maybe after 3, 5, even 10 years you will have the things you were once after.
Ok, that’s enough ranting about being the person first, here are 10 life hacks that can turn you into a productive beast!
The key is to make these life hacks, new found behaviors, so they become ingrained in your subconscious mind and you do them every day without thinking.
You want these 10 things to become habits like having a shower or brushing your teeth and you just complete them everyday with very little thought going into it.
I have put these ‘Life hacks’ in the rough order of when I complete them every day starting from the night before.
- Prioritizing sleep
Here are some pointers when it comes to sleep
- Create a consistent sleep wake cycle - Get up and go to bed at the same time.
- Create a morning and an evening routine - Do the same things in the same order each morning when you wake and the same things at night before sleep
- Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night – You should sleep right through the night, if you don’t there is something causing this.
- Sleep in a bat cave (pitch black room, with no lights)
- Avoid screens 2 hours before bed
- Relax before sleep with some reading, meditation, mobility work
If you have trouble sleeping or
- Find yourself either not being able get to sleep
- Not being able to stay asleep
- Being excessively tired or not being able to wake up in the morning
Check out this video:
2. Three Big Tasks per day
This is something I picked up from Tim Ferris where before going to bed each night write down the three tasks you have to get completed the following day.
This can be done electronically on apps like ‘One Big Thing’
Or I prefer to do it on a piece of A4 paper that I fold three times so it fits into your pocket nicely.
On one side I write my three big tasks for the following day. The #1 task is something I MUST get done, no matter what happens that day. Even if the apocalypse is upon us, you have to get that task completed before going to bed the next night.
On an ideal day you get all 3 tasks done, but this doesn’t always go to plan as things come up, which is normal but always strive to get 2/3 ideally 3/3 each day.
On the other side of this I write down my daily timeline. This is where you plan out your day, giving timeframes for how long you think each task will take, and placing them at the best time of day to get them done around your other daily activities.
I keep this piece of paper in my pocket with me all day, then I get to my desk to start my work I pull it out and place it on my desk so I can begin to concentrate on what I need to do and begin smashing out tasks.
Writing these tasks down and planning out your next day is best done the night beforehand right before going to sleep. Writing thoughts down and getting them out of your brain is a very powerful tool for helping relieve stress, which will allow you to drift off to sleep much easier.
Here's what this might look like:
3. Blocking out Time
A daily task planning strategy I learnt from the book ‘The ONE Thing’ written by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan is the importance of blocking out your time for improved productivity.
This strategy is where you plan out your day by putting tasks in blocks so you aren’t switching from task to task throughout the day. So depending on the importance / urgency of tasks at hand and how long you predict the task will take will determine your given schedule
5:40 - 8:30 – Training Clients
9:00 - 11:00 – Finish writing Productivity article
10:30 - 12:00 – Write nutrition plan for client X
12:00 -1:30 – Train myself
2:00-2:30 - Meditate
2:30-3:30 Read / nap
4:00-8:00 - Training clients
Yes, I nap, naps are fucking awesome.
With task blocking you ideally want to allocate 2 hours or longer for larger tasks and you always want to put your more important and more mentally demanding tasks at the beginning of the day when you have more mental clarity, focus and drive.
Ideally you want to work at your craft, profession, career for four solid hours per day, five days per week.
When planning these tasks remember the brain works best in 50 minute intervals. So I recommend planning out 50 minutes of work, followed by 10 minutes off and then repeat. After 2-3 of these 50 minute blocks take 30 to 60 minutes off and repeat.
I often use a spreadsheet like that seen below to plan out my week. I find this increases my clarity greatly as everything is planned out.
4. Grateful Journal
Keeping a grateful journal is a fantastic way to improve your outlook on life, general mood and well being.
This one is super simple
- Keep a little Journal or note pad and a pen in your room
- Every morning jot down three or more things you feel grateful for
- Try to keep one of these things super basic
For example: I am so grateful that I am healthy and free from any ill health or injury
5. Weekly Goal writing and Daily Goal Review
Weekly Goal writing
This is where you sit down once per week and map our your goals in all areas of life.
I prefer to do this on a Sunday evening and I will normally write down goals in the following areas:
-Health and fitness
-Financial / Investments
-Lifestyle and Experiences
For each of the these areas of life I will then write down:
-Ultimate Goal – what’s my end game?
- 2 Year Goal – where do I need to be in two years to reach my end game ?
- 12 month Goal – where do I need to be in 12 months to reach my 2 year goal
- 6 Month Goal – where do I need to be in 6 months to be on track for my 1 year goal
-12 Week Goal - You get the point
- 4 Week Goal
- 1 Week Goal
After these goals are written down, I will then calculate what needs to be done in the given time frame to get there.
For example: If you want to save 20k in the next 12 months
$20,000 / 52 = $384.62
This means that you will need to save $385 every week for the next 12 months with no missed weeks to hit this goal.
Then based on your personal circumstances assess whether this is realistic. Ideally this goal should be challenging, but you should be able to still see yourself achieving it.
Now you need to make a plan to make it work and most importantly take action.
A goal without a plan is just a dream.
Daily Goal Review
Now your goals are written out, you simply read through these goals once per day.
Each morning when I write down my Grateful log, I read through my goals so they are fresh and on my mind to help keep me motivated and top of things through out the day.
6. Morning Cold Shower
Don’t mock it until you try it.
I’m not going to go deep into the science and physiology of why this works, but here are some benefits:
- Improves lymphatic circulation
- Improves cardiovascular circulation
- Reduces muscle inflammation
- Boosts Happiness levels
- Boosts metabolism and increases weight loss
Now this life hack is super simple in theory but very hard to implement for some, so here’s a little strategy that I have found works best.
- Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than normal so you have time for the shower
- Immediately upon waking up, jump straight into the shower
- Start off as you normally would with the water warm and comfortable
- Jump in for a minute or so and once you are ready begin to turn the hot water down and the cold water up
- Take some deep breaths as the cold water begins to run down your back
- Aim to have the water turned completely turned to called and stay here for one, ideally 2 minutes.
- Performing deep breathing and counting your inhales and exhales helps tremendously with this exercise
- Inhale for 10 seconds and exhale for 10 seconds complete this 6 times and presto, your 2 minutes is done
- Enjoy the feeling of instant alertness, improved mood, better immune function, improved mental focus and clarity.
Repeat this every day upon waking
Meditation has been known to improve mental clarity and function for thousands of years but still today is only used by a select few of the population.
This is one you really have to try for yourself to understand why those who start meditating generally don’t stop and turn into a lifelong habit.
The best way to get started is to simply download a guided meditation app like Headspace or Calm.
Headspace have a fantastic free 10 day pack, where you follow a 10 minute guided meditation for 10 days.
Jump on the App Store or simply head to the headspace website to get started today.
8. The High Protein, High Fat Breakfast
I learnt about the benefits of the 'meat and nut breakfast' or meat and healthy fat breakfast from Strength Sensei - Charles Poliquin. There are obviously many nutrition and supplement tips and tricks we could use to improve productivity but I feel this is the most 'Bang for Buck' nutrition strategy that yields the best result for minimal effort.
A breakfast high in amino acids and healthy fats is critical to allow you to feel motivated and driven with a clear mind ready to tackle your day.
Studies have shown that what you eat for breakfast sets up your neurotransmitter production for the day, meaning that the your food choices at breakfast will affect your mood, energy, motivation, drive and concentration throughout the entire day.
The protein will allow for a slow and steady rise in blood sugar while the smart fats allow the blood sugar to stay stable for an extended period of time.
Start by selecting a good protein source like meat or eggs and then combine it with a nice healthy fat source like nuts, avocado, grass fed butter, coconut or olive oil.
Meat and nuts is a fantastic option for improved mental focus.
For more info on the high protein high fat breakfast check out the video below
9. Training / Exercise
Everyone by now knows that training is as critical for brain function as it is for physical well-being.
Exercise causes a large release in certain neurotransmitter and hormones that are responsible for improving our mood and reducing stress. A happier and less stressed you is more productive and efficient you.
Although this is the case many people still fail to incorporate some form of exercise into their daily routine. It seems that having the knowledge isn’t enough to induce a behavior change.
Now ideally strength training with weights will make up the bulk of your exercise you would be training with weights anywhere from 3 to 5 days per week.
On your other days a simple 20-30 minute walk or mobility/stretching session will do the trick and improve your mental well being.
Don’t think you have the time?
Try some interval training. High intensity interval training sessions can be done in as little as 5 to 20 minutes and benefits can be seen in as little as 1-2 sessions per week.
See more on interval training here
For improved productivity and focus at work I would recommend training in the mornings if possible. This will give your brain the wake up it needs and it will greatly decrease the chances of your training session getting put in the too hard basket at the end of a long work day.
10. Rest, recovery and relaxation – taking time out
Now this is one that many busy, stressed out people forget to include enough of, or they do it in all the wrong ways sometimes putting more stress on their body’s than what they had to begin with.
Taking time out is essential to not only being happy and maintaining a better outlook on life but to allow you to be creative, make better decisions and essentially be more productive and efficient at your work.
The key here is to plan out your relaxation time and work it into your schedule. This may mean you block out a certain times of your day to do whatever relaxes you.
Also breaks away from work big or small can have massively positive effects on your mental health and creativity. So aim for long weekends away every 1-2 months and longer holidays twice or more per year where you drop everything to do with work and get away for a while.
You’ll be surprised at the effect of just having a long weekend scheduled in your calendar. Knowing that you will have these days off will allow you to get more done in less time, leading up to your little get away and after the getaway you should feel refreshed and ready to go again.
If you keep waiting for the perfect time to take this weekend getaway it will never come. You just will have to pick a date on the calendar that mildly works and just book it in. Once it is booked in you will find a way to make it work.
So in Summary the 10 productivity Life hacks are:
1. Priortise sleep
2. Pick three big tasks per day
3. Block you time
4. Write a grateful Journal
5. Write your goals down weekly and review them daily
6. Take a cold shower
7. Meditate for 10-20 minutes per day
8. Eat a High Protein, High 'smart' fats breakfast
10. Rest, relax and recover.
Now instead of trying to implement all these things at once, start with one and go from there.
Enjoy the improved productivity.