Why You're Not Productive: 3 Rules of Productivity You Shouldn't Ignore

Posted by Eric Lee on November 29, 2017

1. You must sacrifice to make big gains

”To accomplish more, you often have to make sacrifices that are tough in the short term but rewarding in the long term.”

This is probably the biggest reason why people don’t succeed. Most people think it’s ok to maintain all their current gratifications and still make millions. That is never the case. We’ve only got 24 hours a day, a finite amount of energy, and one life. Want to spend time watching Netflix now or enjoy time on a beautiful beach in ten years? Know it matters when you don’t feel like sacrificing and you’ll naturally make the right choices.

The how: Why are you prone to wasting so much time? Easy access and instant gratification are the two main reasons. What you need to do is to turn this around. To combat easy access, turn off your internet and put your devices in hard to reach places. To combat instant gratification, print out a photo of what you want to accomplish or gain in the future and frame it. Whenever you work, have this photo in your line of sight. Want to do slack off? This very dream from your photo will vanish from your future. There's an instant adversity that will keep you on track.

2. You must do primarily impactful work

“The key is to recognize which changes are worth your time and effort and which ones aren’t.”

The goal of productivity is to accomplish, rather than doing as much as you can. The good news is, you can accomplish a lot and enjoy a ton of free time if you focus just on impactful work. The bad news is, you’re probably not doing this.

The how: Starting from today, define three of the most impactful, needle-moving tasks to do every day and center your day around them. Nothing more, nothing less, just three (If you must, four is fine too). The next step involves limiting the amount of time you spend on doing the work. I suggest using the Pomodoro technique, where one breaks up their work into intervals of 30 mins with 10 mins of break between (or any other duration). This not only effectively manages your energy but also let’s your mind know you’ve only got a finite amount of time to do only meaningful work. For a great Pomodoro timer, check out our app Clockit, which I designed and developed to boost my productivity.

3. Make small improvements consistently for huge results

“Making small incremental changes lead to habits that stick.” 

Think about the time you suddenly said you wanted to make a huge change in your life and you made this change from day one. Chances are, you probably didn’t succeed. This is due to the fact that habits take 60 days to solidify and and you need to overcome a huge activation barrier in the first few days (imagine a steep uphill followed by a gradua downhill slope).

The how: Start small, then gradually build up. For example, you want to go to sleep earlier, from going to bed at 1am to going to bed at 11pm. Don’t go to sleep at 11pm on the first day, instead for the first week go to sleep at 12:30am, then the next week 12:00am, and the next 11:30pm, and finally, 11:00pm for the fourth week. This lowers your activation barrier and boosts your chances of success significantly. Apply this technique to every change you want to materialize.

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