I write about all sorts of ways to expedite wealth building both online and offline, but what I have failed to focus more on is productivity. Successful people are effective in what they do, and those who are most effective are typically those who are better organized and as a result more productive in what they do.
I want to write more about the “softer” side of entrepreneurship because I feel it is a critical part of being successful. I have written about how successful people achieve amazing results, but that discussion was from a theoretical perspective.
In my article about effective habits that help me get more done, the focus was more practical. In this article I want to focus on the mental aspect of productivity, and how “mind hacking” can help us achieve better results.
Life, as beautiful as it is, has a lot to serve us in our plates every day. With work, family, our health and everything else we’ve got going on in our lives, it is difficult to stay organized and focused at all times. We all struggle with this at some point on various occasions. So how do you stop the madness?
While you can’t stop getting distracted all the time, there are ways to mitigate the damage resulting from the derailing or losing focus. I want to share with you a handful of mind hack strategies that have worked well for me. And while they have worked effectively, I am always looking for more advice to incorporate into my day to day life to become more effective and efficient. I’d love to hear your thoughts in comment section below.
What better way to learn from than first hand experienced history? One approach that has worked well for me is to reflect back on activities I was involved in before I started “working” after which I was really productive. For example, working first thing in the morning after brushing my teeth and preparing my morning beverage works best for me. For you it may be after a nice run and a warm shower?
Although I was reluctant to do this at first, I eventually started taking notes of the activities I was involved in prior to my most productive work sessions. After some time you will have a nice list of activities that you know will energize you for an effective and more productive working session, as well as those that are ineffective. For example, when I work out in the evenings, I just cannot be productive in the wee hours as I am “too distracted”.
My wife always told me about this and my egotistic self didn’t make much of it initially. Men are terrible at multi-tasking, and we should really stop trying. I understand the feeling of being super productive while multi-tasking, but how often does it really work? It is just a “feeling” indeed. Personally, the more I try to multi-task, the more I find myself getting less done. And for the tasks I do get done, I don’t get them done as well as I would’ve had I not been multitasking.
Turn your focus lens on and focus on one and only one activity at a single time. Sure there are certain tasks such as mindless driving in a familiar, long and uncrowded road while listening to a podcast, but even that, whether we realize it or not, shifts some of our focus away. I mean God forbid a deer runs across the road?
This strategy is not biased only toward men. My wife and I have both tried this and both “reported” not only much better productivity, but also more satisfaction and enjoyment.
The flip side of being too focused is sometimes we don’t know when to stop. This is particularly true for ambitious entrepreneurs who are trying to make “it” happen. While all that is well and good, it is important to step back from work periodically, even if it is to stretch your back, grab a glass of walker or go out for a brief walk.
For me, taking break from “work” and doing personal or household chores helps clear my mind, re energize me and allow me to refocus back on work when I sit back down to do it. A friend of mine does his workouts in his home gym between working spurts.
I have read about people setting up buzzers to signal a hard stop from work. Others do crunches or sit ups. It doesn’t matter how you do it, rather that you do it. Taking breaks and working in spurts results in more productivity. Even wonder why you are so much more productive at work right after a break / vacation?
Our brain is the command center of our body. Fine tuning that command center will enable to rest of the body to be as effective as it can be. Scientifically speaking, a good diet, regular exercise regimen and good sleep (typically 8 hours for many) all lead to a finer tuned brain. Therefore, take time to eat a healthy-balanced diet, exercise often and get yourself enough rest.
Science has discovered that our brain has a short term capacity to store information we think about in random spurts. Think about this as the RAM, or random access memory of a computer. Just like computers, we can store quite a bit in our RAMs as well, and a finer tuned brain has a larger RAM (more capacity to store information).
Why is this important? Personally I have many thoughts that cross my mind throughout the day. I may be working out in the gym and the next business idea will cross my mind. Though it is good practice to document such thoughts throughout the day, I do a pretty good job of mentally storing the information and later unloading it on paper (or computer).
The beauty of this mind hack strategy is that the components are interrelated. Here is what I mean. When you work out, you free your mind of stress (say from a long day in the office), but at the same time you may be getting random, fresher thoughts and ideas that are stored in your RAM.
When you get home, you are hungry and tired from working out, so you prep yourself a healthy meal and go to sleep and wake up well rested. One activity naturally feeds off the other. When you wake up and sit down to do work, you unload all those beautiful thoughts and ideas that are stored from the day before.
I’m a very confident individual and I’ve always thought I had things under control as best as I could. I never gave mind hacks or other similar “manipulative” strategies the time of the day, often brushing them aside presumptiously. Little did I know how big of a fool I was.
These mind hack strategies not only work, but they work wonders. And while I was already practicing some of these sub consciously, reading more about them and consciously apply them made me more cognizant of them and as a result much better at executing them. As a result I have definitely experienced more productivity, more satisfaction and much better results.
Effective people are not effective by accident. Getting over our ignorance is the first step to moving closer to more productivity. Learning and applying mind hack strategies that work best for us is the next step.
We each need to think about what is it that we need to do in order to achieve a better balance in life so we can be more productive and achieve better results. The answer will vary for each of us.
For me, the mind hack strategies above are one way to better productivity. I can apply these to most anything I do, and I have truly experienced more happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment from doing so. Inherently, the more I practice these over time the more they become a part of me and my success.
Readers: What do you think about these mind hack strategies? What are some other effective mind hack strategies that have worked well for you? Are you interested in reading more about staying organized and productivity on this blog?Previous: Top 3 Things to Consider When Getting a Merchant Account
Great post! My favorite tip for being more productive is to use the application “Wunderlist”. It’s essentially a to-do list app but you can also set daily tasks as well as long term tasks. In addition you can add notes about the tasks you need to do so you don’t forget. You can also switch the order of tasks around so that if something comes up and you need to adjust you are flexible.
No better feeling than to check off a completed task!
great suggestion App. my wife uses the app. personally, I keep the to do list to 3 to 4 tasks a day only so easier to get by. however, my online calendar does have long term milestones in it.
I keep a pad of paper and a pen near me all the time. I never know when a random thought will come to me and I want to write it down. It might be something I saw on TV, read in a newspaper or magazine or saw on the internet. I write it down so I do not have to remember it.
great idea, whether we use an app or a pad, the idea is to capture thoughts as the occur. different things work for different folks.
This is a great insight indeed although i have not being using any of the above mentioned strategies, i think its high time i start implementing them. I sent you a mail last but haven’t see your reply. Thanks for the post though.
I just responded Theodore, hope that helps. and yes, start implementing today and tweak as you go
Nice post. I hadn’t heard of the “historical results” hack.
I like it. Makes a ton of sense. Thanks for the great content.
most welcome David, and thanks for your thoughts as always. please let me know what topics you’d like to read more about…
Great post. I find that I am most productive when I am hungry. This is one of the things that I do to trick my mind into getting more work done because when I eat I often times feel tired and slow.
lol, we are the opposite Adam. I cannot function when hungry – explains why I eat 6 times a day roughly
Insightful stuff. I’m a big fan of the pomodoro technique myself. It’s a time management method that breaks down your work periods into 25min intervals followed by a 5-10 min break.
It’s pretty awesome and my productivity has skyrocketed ever since I started using it!
looking forward to reading more specifically about what you do and how it has helped you with productivity. welcome Shen
I find micro-sleeps are good for clearing the brain ready for some more thinking. It’s kind of hard to do this if you work in an office environment though.
how long do you micro sleep for and how many times a day do you do it? how has it helped?