Note: I’m no expert on this field and I’m experimenting myself with these kind of things… so keep in mind that this is just some sort of brain dump that consists of a collection of thoughts on productivity and getting things done…
Sometimes you might wonder yourself why you don’t get things done. The reason might be that you are stuck with working on something that isn’t bringing you forward… which means that you gotta stop these things that lead to nothing and ultimately replace them with stuff that matters (picture).
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” (Bruce Lee)
If one is busy it doesn’t always mean hat he does important work. (It might just be unimportant “busy work”). If one wants to accomplish or produce anything it extremely helps to have a proper systematic plan that is structured in a methodical way and fueled by the desire to reach a goal.
If you climb a ladder that is leaning towards the wrong house it doesn’t matter how fast you climb it because it is still bringing you to the wrong house.
Choose the right house before you climb any ladder.
The point is that you have to choose on what you work on wisely. Otherwise you are wasting your resources and time because “nothing is so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” (Peter Drucker)
Moreover it is important to actually make use of the stuff you know because
“Knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough you must do.” (Bruce Lee)
“You can’t climb the ladder of success with the hands in the pocket” (Arnold Schwarzenegger….found in this speech)
Lots of people know what to do… but few people actually do what they know. So it is important to actually take action!
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” (Calvin Collidge)
1. Think, Identify Your Goals and Create a Plan.
The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is this: Efficiency means that you do the things right and effectiveness means you do the right things.
So if you don’t decide what is important to you, your thoughts swirl around and you may end up doing unimportant things very well… and then you might wonder yourself why you aren’t getting closer to your goals.
Anyway…here is a methodical 7 step way to achieve what you want:
1. Decide clearly what you want…
No wishy washy “I would like to blabla” Really decide and then stick with it.
2. By When Do You Want To Have It?
Set a specific date.
3. Why Do You Want It?
List reasons to fuel you.
4. How Do You Gonna Achieve It?
Stuff that you are you going to do to make it happen.
5. Now take massive action and work on it!
Everyday do something that takes you closer to your goal.
6. Notice what is working and what not!
Observe yourself to find out what brings you forward.
7. Do stuff that works and stop doing what doesn’t work!
Continue to change your approach until you get the desired result.
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” (Bruce Lee)
Consider to set some time aside in silence just to think and reflect on stuff. No reading, talking, watching TV… Only you and your thinking apparatus.
Also consider to check out this video called the surprising truth about what motivates us
2. Step by Step (Chunk It Down!)
Sometimes stuff seems so complex that we tend to avoid it and procrastinate because we think it’s too much and we don’t know where to start. Chunk these things down so they become manageable and you can do them step by step.
Here is a great quote from Mark Twain:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
3. Eliminate Blocks
Find out if there is anything that is holding you back conciously or subconciously and find out how you can eliminate it. There might be some invisible scripts running in your head that cause you to not take action.
“I can’t do that.”
If you haven’t developed a certain skill yet don’t forget that you can learn it. Local libraries and the internet are your friends.
“But others say I can’t do this or that…”
Is it really true? Look around in your field and check out those who have already achieved what you want to achieve. Also consider to read biographies that might inspire you.
4. Get Energy
If you are tired and have a lack of energy it is pretty hard to get things done.
So sit down and reflect on what you can do to increase your energy level.
Let’s check out some common sense stuff:
1. Do you drink enough?
Brain and body need water to function at an optimal level….(how much water? I think what feels right for you within the 1.5-2.5 liter range. But not at once because then it leaves the body quickly without hydrating it during the rest of the day. So if possible a glass of water every 1-2 hours depending on the situation you are currently in. Consider to place a bottle in sight distance of your working environment. Without enough water in the body one gets sleepy and tired)
2. Do you sleep enough?
Body and mind needs rest to rebuild itself… a good night’s sleep consists of intensity, quality and length. sleep deprivation influences hormone levels and brain function (including less mental energy to make proper decisions…) here is an article about sleep and weight. sleep hygiene factors to consider: fresh air via open window, no heavy meal 3-4 hours before sleep time, fresh bed linen, dark room, silent room (no clock ticking etc)…calm down before going to bed (eg listening to relaxing music). It can happen that sometimes 4 hours are enough and sometimes 8 hours are needed. There are many theories about sleep. However I think 7-8 hours are best to renew the body and mind at night.
3. Do you eat good food?
Get some basic understanding about food and nutrition so you can make wise decisions on what to eat. Remember food consists of 3 macro factors (carbohydrates, protein and fat) and micro factors (vitamins, minerals). So grab a few unbiased(!) books about nutrition from your local library or amazon. (Be careful and don’t get those with crazy diets… again get the basics right and you won’t fall for any ill adviced bs)
If you eat a big meals you get tired afterwards because large amounts of blood is needed in the stomach area… this blood is missing in the brain and other areas.
If you want to lose weight / gain muscles don’t follow obscure diets. Use common sense and apply critical thinking.
There are several factors in weight loss that make the whole thing difficult… here are a few of them:
Brain and body are adjusted to specific food and thus want this specific food.
2. Not enough understanding of food.
Makes it difficult to identify good food from not so good food.
3. Brain remembers awesome taste, aroma and texture of food
and induces fear that one cannot eat this food anymore and is only allowed to eat salad and strange light products etc. Noooooo….
4. Fear to be only allowed to eat ridiculously small portions.
Causes the stomach to go like “Such a tiny portion? Does this actually have any energy? Are you nuts? Now give me something to work with good sir”
5. If one doesn’t exercise regularly one has a different metabolism
and craves for more fatty foods. However after a while of training and changing of eating habits the brain adjusts to different foods…
Conclusion: It’s not only will power. It’s way more complex than that.
4. Do you get enough fresh air?
Open window several times a day to let go off old air and let in fresh air.
Old air makes tired.
5. Do you stretch regularly?
Sitting in front of a monitor on a chair creates tension.
Get up and do some basic stretching to get rid off tension.
6. Do you exercise regularly?
Exercising simply means to move your muscles consciously.
Watch this 9 min video called 23 1/2 hours that explains the huge impact of just 30 minutes a day of movement.
“But I don’t want/can’t lift weights and have no time/money to go to the gym”
Well…. Muscles are built through resistance and thus there are several ways to workout and provide resistance: bodyweight training, weights, expanders or stretchable exercise bands, tensing/relaxing your muscles at your own will with your mind (for example flexing in front of mirror)…
Basic resistance is always provided on mother earth via gravity which means you have a certain level of muscle mass from simply walking around and using your limbs.
There is the saying “Use it or lose it” which means that nature takes away what is not needed. This can be seen if someone lays in bed for a few weeks because of a broken leg. The leg will shrink quickly due to the fact that it is not moved which means muscles are not used and thus disappear.
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” (Plato)
Note: In case you want to start training consult your doctor / physician beforehand so he can check your health level in order to be sure which training is best for you so you don’t injure yourself.
So what is really required to gain muscles / lose weight?
-> Eat properly. Train properly. Rest properly. That’s it.
1. Increase metabolism (by eating proper food, building muscles)
2. Burning fat actively (by doing cardio. for example jump rope, trampolin, jogging…)
3. Burning fat passively (by increasing muscle mass. for example workout 30-60 min 3 times a week)
4. Get enough rest to allow body to renew and rebuild itself (1 day rest between workouts. get enough quality sleep)
5. Remove sources of negative stress (which hinders the body to heal and work properly)
In TV and on the Internet scammy marketers sell diet pills or fancy equipment or “secrets” to weight loss. And many people fall for it. When you understand how the body works you will notice that this stuff is bs and wasted money.
So you are skinny or overweight and want to change that but think it isn’t possible…. Well consider to check out these videos about body transformations to see what is possible and get inspired and motivated.
Time for a change?
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another.” (Anatole France)
“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” (Marcus Aurelius)
Muscles grow when you use them actively during workout (then they notice that they are needed and grow when you rest/sleep)
5. Clear Mind
Oftentimes stuff is swirling around in our heads and is preventing us from being focused. (“Oh I need to do this and that” and “I have an appointment at…” and trivial stuff like “Annoying co-worker ate the last piece of cake… grrrr” etc etc ). Thinking about these things while working is counterproductive because it doesn’t solve them. It also robs you off energy and focus because a certain amount of your brain power and mental RAM is used by thinking about these things. Consider to write these things down to get them out of your head and then return to them later when it is appropriate.
Also one thought triggers another thought similar to a domino effect.
Notice what triggers those distracting thoughts (certain events, environments, objects, people…) and then avoid these things.
Moreover unfinished business (for example unhealthy bad relationships) is also something that prevents one from having clean focus. Analyze it and try to solve it.
Deep breathing also helps…. moreover physical stuff like going for walk, working out gets you out of your head and into your body.
6. Eliminate Distractions
E-Mail, Internet, Facebook, Twitter, RSS Reader, Instant Messaging, Phone, TV…
It’s easy to get distracted especially when you work on your PC.
Overtime you lose the ability to focus and become addicted to not focus.
Because it is quick and delivers instant gratification…
“Hmm… well just need to check my RSS Reader… oh and real fast the fb updates…. I wonder how many mails are in my inbox… Oh look this YouTube video AWESOME hahaha…. So skype is popping up… Just a sec, phone is ringing. Let’s see what is on TV…”
It’s like driving on the freeway with fullspeed and then stopping every 10 minutes to get into a drive-in to get a little snack. The whole process slows you down extremely because it takes a while before you are at fullspeed on the road again…
Same rings true when you interrupt your work with checking mail, surfing, facebook etc… Your mind is handling these things now and it takes 10-15 min to get back to the state of focus before the interruption.
Of course multitasking is not generally bad because it depends on the situation and what kind of work has to be done. There are occasions when it is appropriate (For example you can pack all the e-mail checking, surfing, facebook stuff etc in a time block in the evening).
What about music? Well it depends… because It might help you to focus.
Basically it depends on various factors such as the stuff you are doing and the music you are listening to… and personal preferences and current mood of course.For more details about multitasking consider to read this article called
Why Multitasking doesn’t work (discovered it here)
7. Use a Timer
Very simple and very useful. Let it ring every 25 or 50 min to keep you focused or to remind you to concentrate again inn case you should have lost focus…
Either use the countdown function of your phone, get a simple timer (5-10$) or use an online timer like e.ggtimer.com
8. Work in Time Blocks and take Breaks!
Focus. Do one thing at a time and have clean cuts between activities:
One of the great things about the human mind is to focus on one thing at a time. Stop one thing when you start something new. Don’t slip into the grey zone with no clean cuts between activities….where many things are done at the same time but never really completed etc… this produces suboptimal results….
Therefore make room for “focused blocks of uninterrupted time”.
For example work for periods of 50 min and then take 10 min breaks to refresh your mind and body. Stand up, stretch to get rid off tension, breathe fresh air to refresh mind, drink some water to hydrate your body, take a quick nap…
After 2 or 3 periods of 50 min of work it might be time for a longer break of 20-30 min. A refreshing short sleep (with timer), a little meal, stretching…
Some might also prefer bigger time blocks (for example 100 min of work followed by 20-30 min breaks…)
Alternatively you can use the Pomodora Technique which consists of 25 min work blocks followed by 5 min breaks. After 4 “Pomodoros” take a longer break of 20-30 min.
9. Have A Timelog
Just take a personal calendar (or a simple sheet of paper) and briefly write down what you are doing throughout the day.
Alternatively you can also use this spreadsheet template called A Nifty Timelog that I have created recently…
Writing stuff down takes only a few seconds each time (resulting in 1-2 minutes total per day).
10. Four Other Principles
1. Time Matrix
there are some examples on google image search
1. important and urgent (neccessary…pressing matters, deadline projects)
2. important but not urgent (quality stuff…planning, prevention, longterm projects)
3. urgent but not important (deceptive….stuff that only seems important like phone, some mails, distractions…)
4. not improtant and not urgent (waste….trivial stuff and time wasting activities like excessive surfing with no goal, watching endlessly tv, playing dumb games that don’t provide any fun, entertainment or relaxation etc)
2. 24 h pie chart
draw a pie chart and check how much time is used for sleeping, working, eating etc.
3. Short, Medium, Longterm
think about short, medium and longterm results of things…
4. 30 Day Principle
It takes ~30 days until brain adapts to habit change