Two Essential Tips for Productivity

A few days ago I asked you about your best productivity tip while I also shared mine. From the discussion, it’s clear to me that I saw the problem from different perspective than most of you who participated. This – in my opinion – is a good thing. These two perspectives complement each other and give us a more complete view of productivity.

Productivity I would call the two perspectives macro and micro which also reflect two levels of productivity. The macro level aims to make our life as a whole productive. It sees productivity from higher altitude. On the other hand, the micro level aims to make one day productive.

In the discussion, I mainly saw the problem from the macro level, while most of you saw it from the micro level. But both of them are equally important. If we focus only on the micro level, then we may feel productive in our days only to find that we have done the wrong things at the end. On the other hand, if we focus only on the macro level, we may have a clear direction for our life but not be able to accomplish much in a day. Only by having both of them can we do a lot in a day while at the same time be sure that we have done the right things.

The Macro Level

The essential productivity tip in the macro level is follow your heart. I already wrote three reasons why I think this is a good tip, so I won’t repeat them in detail here. In essence, following your heart helps you ensure that you do the right things and do them with passion. Since you love doing it, you will be motivated to achieve more and therefore produce more.

Your life as a whole can be more productive this way. Besides giving you the direction and the motivation, following your heart also helps you have a balanced life. Following our mind tends to make we focus more on one side (e.g. financial aspect) while ignoring the others, (e.g. relationships). But, if we follow our heart, we will keep all aspects in balance.

The Micro Level

The essential productivity tip in the micro level is focus in uninterrupted block of time. I learned it from the David Legan’s and Beth Peterson’s comments in the discussion. Let’s dissect this tip:

1. Block of time

First of all, if we want to accomplish much then we must allocate a long enough block of time. As its name implies, block of time means it must be continuous. It should not be spread throughout the day.

2. Uninterrupted

Second, the block of time must be uninterrupted. We should prevent interruption as much as we can. Close the door, unplug the Internet, turn off the cell phone, and tell your co-workers not to disturb you. Do whatever it takes to prevent interruptions.

3. Focus

Focus means we should do only one task at a time. If we try to multitask then we won’t get optimal result. We should focus on just one task, and move to other task only after we finish it.

These three conditions help us enter the state of flow, the state where we are so absorbed by the task that we no longer realize the passage of time. Flow state is essential for high productivity. Like sun’s rays focused through magnifying glass can burn paper, mind focused in the state of fow can accomplish whatever task you face.

Conclusion 

Combining these two tips will give you the best results. Make sure that you follow your heart and do what matters to you. But then, make sure that you accomplish your tasks with focus in uninterrupted block of time. This way, you will have very productive days and very productive life.

Photo by Balaji Dutt

11 Comments

  1. great advice. thanks for everything!

  2. Glad you like it, Brad 🙂

  3. First of all, you have a great blog. I really like your tips and I try implementing them every day of my life. Some of them work for me, some don’t.
    Here are my ways to better productivity http://www.wrike.com/blog/11/13/2007/Make_Wrike_a_part_of_your_7_habits_for_becoming_highly_effective
    The book s about 7 habits and this tool changed my life. It was hard to believe at first.

  4. Donald,
    I’m tracking with you 110%. I love your distinction between macro and micro productivity. It reminds me a lot of what the Toyota Away would call ‘localized efficiency.’

    Too often we’re tempted to just focus on those micro tips that will help us crank widgets all the faster. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those things.

    But without purpose and understanding WHY we’re doing what we’re doing — well, we’re just cranking widgets and not really getting anywhere with our lives.

    Great stuff.
    -kb

  5. Both great tips. I generally find people have a lot of trouble with both. I certainly do. Example: One the micro level: I set a productivity goal this morning to get certain things done in a blocked time. High importance interruptions killed it. There was nothing I could do but let a fire burn, and I wasn’t willing to that.

    One the Macro Level: Following your heart can be difficult because you have to find quiet time to listen to your heart, then you need to build faith and trust in your heart before you can act. Many of us a trained to ignore our heart and be practical.

  6. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! I love this discussion.

    Perry,
    I never heard of Wrike before but I’m always glad to learn something new.

    Kelly,
    “Localized efficiency” sounds like an interesting concept to me. I wish I could learn more about it. And yes, the *why* is important to give us the right direction in life.

    Steve,
    I agree completely about the difficulties with both tips, and you gave us clear examples. I also have similar experiences. It’s often difficult not to get interrupted, and it’s certainly not easy to listen to and follow our heart.

  7. Your discussion of the micro level is spot on. I think too many of us buy into the myth of multitasking and don’t realize that a) many of the things we don’t think are interrupting us actually do, and b) one hour of uninterrupted, focused work can often replace four hours of rapid repurposing.

    Keep up the great work.

  8. Charlie,
    Thanks for the encouragement! Yes, multitasking is a dominant productivity illusion. It’s as if we will be able to accomplish more through multitasking, though the opposite is true.

  9. My best productivity tip is to NOT ask yourself how you are going to do it, to NOT ask yourself if you can do it and to NOT ask yourself when you will do it.

    Simply do it. Do it now and get it over with . . . That will make you so productive, it’s not even funny.

    Take care

    Mr Positioning (Stanley F. Bronstein, Atty, CPA, Author and Professional Speaker)

  10. Stanley,
    Interesting thought.

  11. Great tips!Thanks a lot! It’s no longer a fact that cloud technology has offered plenty of tools that promise to boost productivity and it seems that they actually do! Having a task management, project management and document management system on the cloud really helps collaboration and minimizes the time needed!

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