Do you feel like you’re juggling a dozen balls or balancing just as many plates? We’re all trying to be superheroes who do everything. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day and we need to sleep at some point. When it comes to productivity, every guru has their ideas. Many can help us but only so far. Here’s why and the best tip to increase your productivity.
You can be and do more. That’s possible. Certainly you can be more productive than 99% of the people around you.
To a point.
If you’ve learned to be an organized person, mastered checklists and goal setting, and learned to delegate but still come away feeling like you’re about to go bust any moment, the pro tip on productivity may be for you but you may not want to hear it. If you listen though, you’ll actually become phenomenally productive.
The #1 productivity tip is simply this:
Focus on less.
But you want to do more, right? Right. You can but it takes winnowing away the chaff that’s getting in your way.
The Focused Master
I’m a writer. On My Best Life Secrets alone I have nearly 200 articles that I’ve written in less than 18 months. One of my hobbies is fiction writing and I easily churn out 20 pages a day and have written literally hundreds of short stories at this point in my life and I’m just 40 years old. I’m prolific as a writer. How did I get that way?
I focused primarily on writing, utilizing most of my time for it and shutting out all other distractions.
That’s also how I passed a Japanese legal reading exam after 20 months intensively studying Japanese and went on to triple my salary thanks to that credential. It’s how I got very good at investing and building wealth after devoting thousands upon thousands of hours to studying finance and investing to the exclusion of most everything else.
To be productive, to be prolific, to be a master at your trade or endeavor, you must laser in more and more on that goal or craft and sideline most everything else until it becomes so second nature that all is left is to hone now and again to stay sharp. Few people ever do this and few people are productive, let alone prolific.
Being productive isn’t balancing 12 spinning plates or keeping 12 balls in the air. That’s a recipe for stress, anxiety, failure and broken goals and promises. We are capable of many great things but we are limited by our finite energy and the finite amount of time in the day. Each of us have our own energy spectrum and sometimes we can expand our limits beyond our wildest imagination, especially over time, but true productivity requires focus.
What are you focusing on currently? How many goals, tasks, hobbies, and social commitments do you have? What about personal time commitments like television, entertainment, gaming, talking on the phone or watching internet videos? The more you have, the more fractured you will feel and the less energy and focus you will have for each item.
We humans have two hands and ten fingers. They are good guidelines for how much we can honestly hope to do. We’re not machines who can work on thousands of problems or tasks at once. Really we can only focus on one or two at a time if we hope to do them well, with five side-tasks to move forward for each.
When I cut out time wasters and sacrificed hobbies and social connections I enjoyed but which held me back or didn’t help me move forward, I became prolific and accomplished goal after goal on my road to being financially free and semi-retired in 10 years. I cut out most TV and fiction reading, listened to educational videos and audiobooks instead of watching movies or listening to music. I assessed friendships and let go of the negative people in my life and those who weren’t supportive of my dreams. I said good-bye to volunteering and professional commitments that took up time but didn’t deliver momentum toward my dreams and goals.
To be prolific and productive means being able to assess what is merely useful from the essential, then letting go of the merely useful to focus on the essential. Many times I’ve made the gamble to let go of something worthwhile in order to reach the next level and obtain something more precious.
We have to de-clutter our space if we wish to fill it with better furniture. The same goes for experiences, goals and dreams. Many times in becoming masterful at our craft or obtaining our dreams, we must relinquish smaller goals or ideas for new ones or end previously useful projects and connections. There simply isn’t enough time in the day, week, month or year to keep carrying everything forward as we progress. If we do, we become hoarders dragged further and further down by our baggage – even the good baggage.
Focus on less. Jettison what’s no longer useful or which is only somewhat so or that which isn’t going to propel you forward toward what you’re really wanting. That doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate all that you’ve done or achieved or that you’re not grateful for what has gotten you to where you are now. Everything has its place. But to be productive means to focus on less so that you can make room to become prolific, expert, and phenomenal at what you are focusing on.
Small Time to Big Time
We live in a world of distractions but we also live in a world constantly promoting endless and conflicting goals and urging us to take them all on. Once I tuned out the inessential for the essential, my productivity went through the roof. Many truly productive people will tell you a similar story.
Let go of the small time projects and time wasters that hold you back. Accept that you can’t do everything and choose priorities you love. When you focus on less, you actually become more. Your energy will expand to accomplish more within your scope of expertise, especially as you become so attuned to your goal that you begin to build almost exponentially upon your education and accomplishments.
That’s the secret few gurus ever explain. In many ways this alone will make you seem superhuman to everyone else and you’ll be more productive than you currently think possible, and in ways you never previously envisioned.
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