People are interested in success and one of the key features of success is productivity. Productivity is essentially our effectiveness when it comes to making, causing, providing or creating something. There are definite things that cause a decrease in our productivity and definite things that cause an increase in it. Today, I’m going to share with you some of my top secrets about what makes people productive.
Intrinsic motivation. When your behavior is driven by internal rewards, you will be productive. You don’t even have to try to be. When we are intrinsically motivated, the motivation to do something is because the doing of it is naturally satisfying you. If you put a monkey in a cage with a puzzle, it will play with the puzzle because doing so is naturally satisfying. No one has to extrinsically motivate the monkey to do it. If the monkey has to be fed treats for him or her to be motivated to play with the puzzle, he or she is extrinsically motivated. This is a recipe for productivity disaster. This is one reason why work environments in which people are motivated primarily by a paycheck are the least productive work environments in the world. You will not have the wave of energy within you to accomplish a task if you have no intrinsic motivation, instead it will feel like it takes the forced effort of drudgery to do it. Intrinsic motivation is why a scientist can spend years in a lab until they emerge with a theory. Intrinsic motivation is why an athlete can dedicate their entire existence to a 10 second race.
This is one of the reasons why contrary to most popular advice, many people (but not all) do better when their day is not structured. They don’t follow a set routine. Instead, it is an intuitive, felt based and organic interaction with their day as that day occurs. These people organize their day according to inspiration. When there is inspiration, you can ride the wave of that inspiration and take inspired action steps. If you do whatever inspires you, even if a task is difficult to do, it takes no forced effort to do it and takes much less time to do as well.
If you don’t have intrinsic motivation or inspiration to do something, it is time to question why you are dedicating your time and energy to something that is not naturally satisfying. It is time to re-evaluate your life.
If you aren’t automatically intrinsically motivated, but you are still determined to continue to dedicate your time and energy to it, find something within that thing that doesn’t motivate you that really does intrinsically motivate you. For example, imagine that someone is totally unmotivated to help others. But this person loves problem solving. If someone in their life has a problem, they can set the intention of honing their skill of problem solving and suddenly, they will feel motivated to do it. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Priceless Motivation Tip (Find The Self Serving Motive).
Act on inspiration immediately. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they don’t ride the wave of intrinsic motivation fast enough. When you have an idea that also contains the seed of inspiration, bringing it to fruition is like surfing. You have a very limited amount of time to ride a wave to shore. In the same way, you have a very limited amount of time to jump on the wave of inspiration. This means, act immediately. Don’t say “I’m gonna do that in a couple hours or tomorrow or someday”. You literally have seconds or minutes. I’ve been known to stop everything I’m doing or clear the schedule or turn the car around in order to take my first action step that is in alignment with the fruition of the idea. Take that first step the second it occurs to you.
Deal with resistance the minute it arises. Most people think productivity is accomplished by bulldozing resistance. The opposite is true. To understand resistance, I want you to imagine a lake. In this lake, there is a boat. This boat has 6 oarsmen in it, each of whom have a paddle. Some of the oarsmen are paddling in one direction. Some of them are paddling in the opposite direction. These oarsmen are in resistance to each other. Resistance is nothing more than opposition. It is any oppositional force. We can meet with opposition from the outside and we can meet with opposition from the inside. Resistance makes it much harder to actually accomplish what you are trying to accomplish. It is essential to resolve the resistance first. The rule of thumb for success is this: If you have any resistance-taking place within your being, you must directly deal with the resistance first before doing anything else. No action should be taken from a place of resistance. When it comes to productivity, this is a particular problem when we have competitive commitments, interests, desires or goals. To understand this in depth, watch my videos titled: Urgent, Deal With Your Resistance Before You Do Anything Else and Bulldozing (The Way To Ruin Your Relationship With Yourself). Doing this is like pulling an anchor up so your ship can sail rather than buying more sails so they stand more of a chance against your anchor.
Do what you are excellent at. This may sound strange at first but if someone is excellent at something, it will take much less effort for them to do that thing and they will be much more productive naturally. Your area of excellence will be something you take for granted. A company or system can only be genuinely productive when people are placed correctly in their positions of excellence.
Don’t think in terms of hours; think in terms of results. Think of the completion of a task and the quality of what is produced. A genuinely successful business is not based on hours. Super successful people see what they produce as a reflection on themselves. They take the responsibility therefore for that which they produce. This means that it is in their hands whether they dedicate two hours to something or three full days to something. It’s about what they produce, not about the time it took to produce it. People who are not successful have an ‘earning’ mentality. Where value is based on their time, not their results.
Every day, assess what needs to be done according to what the actual priority is and why. It is critical that you prioritize correctly before you throw your energy into something. Many people become distracted and scattered because they don’t do this. Your energy should pour into whatever the highest priority is at any given time. And be open to the idea that it may seem counterintuitive. For example, if getting a massage is what it will take to get you to be able to have enough energy to pour yourself into a high priority project, then getting a massage may be the highest priority. And don’t forget to factor into the prioritization to do your most challenging tasks when you have the most energy to tackle them. For most people, this is in the morning.
Make lists and cross items off of the list once they are completed. It may sound trite and obvious but the reason that this item is such a cornerstone of success tips is because it actually works. Try not to overwhelm yourself with this list. If you make a large to-do list, consider that this is helping you so none of your mental energy has to be directed towards keeping track of any of it. But break it into smaller ones, specifically smaller goals.
Often, you will not be able to plot out the entire process of something being brought to fruition because many of the steps, you can’t see yet. This is ok, plan to add to this to-do list and re-assess priorities daily. It is ok if the process looks like finishing the first step and seeing what the second step is then taking that second step and seeing what the third step is. If this is the case, just keep putting one foot in front of the other until the idea is brought to life.
Focus on the first priority item all the way to completion until moving on to the next. The only exception to this rule should be if something that is truly higher priority comes up. Truly productive people focus on completion of a task. When it comes to productivity, it is better if open-ended items bother you. If they don’t, your energy can become scattered and scattered energy is a recipe for lack of productivity. You are really going to have to be honest with yourself if you have the capacity to multi task. Even if you can, you have to admit it may not be the best idea if you want to really focus on something through to completion. Also, it is a real energy boost to be able to cross something off of your list so it is no longer looming over your head.
Become aware of where your energy is going. People often feel confused about their lack of productivity without consciously realizing that their energy is not actually going towards what they are wanting and without realizing what their focus is actually on. One of the most eye opening things you can do is to keep track of yourself over the course of a few days. Keep a journal with you and write down what you are doing and for how long. Every time you change focus or do something else, write it down. For example: 8:00-8:20 getting ready in bathroom. 8:20-8:45 eating breakfast. 8:45-9:15 driving to work and listening to self esteem podcast. 9:15- 9:20, walking from parking garage to desk. 9:20 – 11:00 in a marketing meeting. 11:00- 11:20 arguing with girlfriend over the phone. You get the point. At the end of the exercise, assess where your time and energy is actually going and how you feel about that. It usually blows people away how little energy they are putting towards the things they actually want and need to put energy towards. And don’t be surprised if you find that you spend a lot more time thinking about doing things than actually doing them.
Be aware of when the time has come to delegate and when that time does come, delegate. Productivity slows when there is too much on one person’s plate. That person includes you. The day will come when the only way to remain productive or become more productive is to get help or hire people and productivity is exponentially increased when those people you delegate tasks to are even better at doing them than you are.
De-clutter. One thing that people don’t realize impedes productivity and forward movement is when space is not cleared for that movement and for the new. The environment you work in absolutely impacts your energy and effectiveness. Throw away or store old papers. Clean your workspace. Delete things from your computer you don’t need anymore or put it all in one place and store it all externally. Create the space for clarity. Be in control of your canvas. One of the most important parts of the de-cluttering process is to make sure not to clutter your awareness or space before you focus on a task. For example, if you wanted to write a book, checking your e-mail first before you sit down to write will clutter your mind with other people’s energy, things other people want from you and answers you have to give. Looking at the news may create a clutter of new worries. Cluttering your morning with some small tasks before you get down to your main focus may deplete you and scatter your energy. Simplify, simplify, simplify. It is critical to remove tangible and intangible distractions.
When you feel a lull in productivity happening, stop and re-evaluate. Don’t be afraid of doing this. Being able to switch horses mid stream is a quality of highly successful people. It is highly unproductive to continue doing something that does not work or that is not effective in the way you’re going about it. It is necessary to step back, re-assess the situation, see the big picture (including what’s working and what isn’t, what needs to change, your relationship to the whole thing) and to be able to change course if need be.
Set up systems. Systems are nothing more than repeatable processes and they are entirely within your control. For example, a goal might be “I want to be in a romantic relationship”. A system would be “on Monday I’m going to single’s night. On Tuesday I’m going to the dog park and I’m going to initiate talking to three new people”. Productivity goes through the roof when people focus on systems. This is the step where automation of repetitive tasks and creating habits you can stick to comes into play. In a company, setting up systems is critical. It’s the only way that success can be replicated and new people can be hired into the company without having to re-invent the wheel every time.
The struggle is part of the process of creation. No matter how motivated you are, you will have times where you just aren’t. Times where no matter what you do, it isn’t feeling in-alignment. This is distinctly different than lacking intrinsic motivation. We all have bad days. Embrace the struggle and use it to re-evaluate instead of immediately thinking that the struggle means it’s time to doubt the whole thing in it’s entirely. Sometimes, we need to stop fighting and take a rest. Ironically when we do this, often times we release our resistance to the struggle just enough that a solution naturally arises. Expecting that if it’s meant to be, everything will go smoothly or according to plan is not being in reality. It doesn’t work that way for anyone.
Many people feel blindsided by struggle, set backs and failures and they give up when they encounter these things. But success is really about accepting that this is par for the course. It’s about riding the waves of motivation and streamlining your focused energy towards it’s highest and best use all the way to the completion of whatever it is you are wanting to produce.