In today’s busy and bustling world, so many people are trying to crack the code on productivity. You can easily read a dozen productivity books, or books about “highly effective people” and get, in some cases, contradicting claims. But reading is always worth it, and these books are usually written by people who are very effective at what they do. One book I enjoyed is called The One Thing by Gary Keller. Now if you don’t know who he is, he started (with another person) Keller Williams, one of the most successful real estate agencies in America. The book has some awesome points, some I used right then and there and saw a difference in my productivity. I used one technique called “The domino effect” in the morning. Basically the concept is about inertia and momentum. I remember switching sending my emails from the last thing I did at night, to the first thing I did after I woke up and had a coffee. It started the domino effect, I then had more momentum to tackle bigger or harder tasks. Now, this might vary from person to person as we are all different, and I will touch on that concept in a moment as well. On a side note, my morning rituals have changed quite a few times over the years.
The One Thing asks the question – which is the premise of the book – “What is the one thing I can be doing right now, that will make every other thing easier, or not matter?” (By the way, I’m not quoting that verbatim so it might be worded slightly differently, but the point remains.) Now this is tough question to ask but I can see, as someone who was in real estate sales, that this can be a real simplifier to the equation that is productivity. The question is pretty easy when you’re writing a blog… or is it?
Gary talks plentifully about other very important things in life that are important, like purpose, discipline, happiness, work-life balance, good habits, and plenty of others. Anyway, it’s worth a read.
Now I can go on for days about productivity books, but there is one in specific that I found to be, by far, the most effective book at making me more productive. You might be familiar with Chris Bailey, or you might not. He’s no billionaire, he’s not a pro athlete, but his obsession set him apart from the rest. The title to this article is actually a satire to the title of his book The Productivity Project. If you read the book, you’ll see that Chris is down-right obsessed with the idea of productivity, he created an entire lifestyle around trying to crack the code on it, which he relays to us in this piece of literature.
Have you ever heard someone tell you that if you wake up at 5:30am every morning (or some time frame in that area) that you will be productive, or just down right successful? I have. I actually used to wake up this early all the time, I kind of miss it actually because it gave me a huge start on the day. But I was also living a lifestyle that it made sense to do that. One of my old clients would get to his shop at 3:30am to 4:30am every morning. The guy was intense, a real Staten Island type, and by the way, he didn’t wake up, he was already AT THE SHOP at that time. He told me he gets an edge on everybody else that way. By the way he owns a car mechanic shop that brings in about 800k a year and he loves stocks. The mornings were his quiet time, his thinking time, because once 7am hit, it was busy all day. I remember being at his shop at 6am to talk business and by 6:45am the phone was ringing almost every 2 minutes.
But as for Chris, he didn’t get up that early, he tried. And that’s one thing I loved about his book. He doesn’t preach a method, he tries it. Then he gives his opinion on it. When it comes to waking up early, or working on task x at a certain time, we each have a biological clock inside of us that somewhat dictates when we’d be most productive and in what ways. This clock can be changed, but it takes time. I know myself well enough to understand my clock. Certain times are better for quiet, focus based or laborious tasks, others are better for deep thinking and creative writing, and other things. There are several factors that go into these things to, it’s not always cut and dry, it’s rarely cut and dry, but understanding yourself is the most important part. As Benjamin Franklin once said “The two hardest things on earth, are diamonds, and knowing ones’ self.” And how eerily true it is… He also said “Early to bed, early to rise…” you know the rest.
Now in this massive debunking of productivity hacks and ‘old age knowledge,’ the things Chris does get pretty extreme. And I dig that. I dabble in some “smart drugs” as they are known on the streets, or Nootropics as they are known on Reddit. Chris doesn’t go to this extent, but there is one thing I have had the pleasure and benefit of understanding and that is MEDITATION. Yes, I said it. After enough meditating, I have noticed a calmer sense within me, a deeper inspection of my environments prior to reaction, and much more focus. Also I just feel happier in general. I Meditate almost every morning, and I use the app called Headspace, it helps in leaps and bounds if you’re a noob like me with a mind like a 6 speed Ferrari and you can’t even drive stick. Chris goes to the extreme though, doing crazy amounts of meditation to see where the optimal amount might lay, but he also collaborates with several successful and extremely busy and productive people who are also zen, showing that it clearly has some beneficial benefits.
In Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss he points out that almost all the people he interviews have some sort of morning/meditative practice to start their day. The interesting part is that they vary very differently from each other, from breathing exercises (Tony Robbins) to strange drinkable concoctions.
Mr. Bailey touches on several more aspects of productivity with scientific data involved, including diets, neurology, changes in the work force, and the importance of time. If the idea of productivity means anything to you and your lifestyle… buy this book before any. It has become my bible of productiveness.
Also, if you use Virtual Assistants, he has a bit about them on Chapter 14 named Removing the Unimportant. Also just a great chapter on removing clutter.
To quote Bruce Lee “One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”
BONUS: Check out Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss (previously mentioned,) which is loaded with interviews from various successful people of all walks of life. Despite the bajillion different things this book can teach you, it has quite a lot of info on productivity. I’d strongly suggest it to anyone trying to find a good groove in their daily routine. I actually (as previously mentioned) based about 90% of my morning routine off of Tim Ferriss’ morning rituals chapter.
…forever a student.