4 Productivity Principals EVERYONE Needs To Know

The world is a busy place, and we are busy people.

But just because we are busy, doesn’t mean we are accomplishing our goals.

There is a BIG difference between busy and productive.

With these essential productivity principals, you will be able to get more done in less time than ever before.

1) Decision Fatigue

The average adult makes 35,000 decisions a day.

Decision Fatigue is a phenomenon where the quality of the decisions of an individual deteriorate after sessions of decision making.

In short, every unnecessary decision you make throughout the day lowers the quality of your decisions thereafter.

Not only that, decision fatigue can cause decision avoidance which “suggests that choice, to the extent that it requires greater decision-making among options, can become burdensome and ultimately counterproductive.”

Another notable effect of decision fatigue is impaired self regulation, which, in the context of productivity, is the worst effect.

This effect states that “The process of choosing may itself drain some of the self’s precious resources, thereby leaving the executive function less capable of carrying out its other activities.” Essentially leaving you with less willpower to get things done.

Let’s do the math here.

Too many decisions + Too many options =  more fatigue, worse decisions, less willpower

The solution? Make everything we can think of into a routine. Have a routine for breakfast, for when we workout, for when we go to bed, and anything else we can imagine. Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day because he understood this principal and its importance.

2) Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Essentially, if we give ourselves two weeks to complete something, it will take us the full two weeks. But if we give ourselves two days, it will be completed in two days.

This idea is an absolute game changer. The next time you want to accomplish anything, give yourself a much smaller time limit than you would normally, and watch yourself work miracles.

3) Pareto’s Principle

Pareto’s Principal—also known as the 80/20 rule— states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

For productivity purposes, this is the idea that 80% of our accomplishments come from 20% of our work. If we find and focus on the 20% that achieves these results, we will become exponentially more efficient at achieving our goals.

Look at how we spend our time, 80% of it is just busy work and procrastination. It’s the 20%, the real game changing stuff, that results in our accomplishments.

Find the activities that are the most effective in getting your desired results and focus on those.

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4) Opportunity Cost 

This is an economics principal, but I like to use it for productivity as well.

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen”.

In the context of productivity this essentially means anytime you choose to spend your time, money, or energy on one thing, it is at the cost of all the other things you could be spending those resources on.

So when you are social media, you are losing the “potential gains” that you would receive if you were working out, working on projects, or doing something else productive.

This principal, combined with the 80/20 rule, is a powerful combo. Now we know when we are focusing on the 80% of things that waste time, we are not only getting sub-par results, we are also losing the potential gains we would receive if we were focusing on the 20% of real productive activities.

In summary: 

  • Cut down the amount of unnecessary decisions you make. Use routine.
  • Give yourself short periods of time to complete tasks.
  • Focus on the 20% of activities that achieve 80% of your results.
  • Keep in mind the opportunity costs you are paying when deciding how to use your time.

Endless Progression

Today was the first day at school. I was sitting in the lecture hall and I was looking at my older articles for inspiration to write about. I just couldn’t think of a topic.

Clearly, I was not paying attention to the lecture. I do not enjoy school, but that’s neither here nor there.

Earlier in my writing ‘career,’ I wrote an article untitled “The Summer Bucket List.” This article outlined everything I wanted to achieve by the end of the summer.

In it I mentioned skydiving, lavish trips to Vegas and NYC, and the ‘Go’ Game, among many other things.

As I was looking at this list, I realized that I hadn’t achieved any of it. I was a total failure. I set a bunch of goals and didn’t accomplish any of them. It was disheartening.

But, I had done other things. And while they weren’t listed goals, they were important. They helped me grow in more ways than one. I am a different person because of them.

For example, I started a business with my mother selling Indian sauces. That was a huge accomplishment. I started learning Spanish. That was a huge accomplishment. I became more focused, serious (in terms of life), and confident. That was a huge accomplishment.

Some things can be overlooked

Goals are just goals. Yes, it is incredibly important to have concise goals. But some things can be overlooked. Sure, I didn’t skydive. But really, if I did, would it have changed me?

Sure I didn’t go to NYC and Vegas. But, if I did, would I have made me any different? I feel like I would have had a lot of fun, been in the hole a few thousand dollars, and continued the same path that I was on.

I wasn’t able to finish the summer bucket list. That’s okay. I am still progressing, still changing, and still improving.

Two Sides to Every Coin

Life is interesting. There are literally two (or more) ways to deal with every situation. There is never one route to consider. I love that about life.

I could have looked at my incomplete list and been completely shattered. I could have wallowed in my own failures and stayed sedentary. There is no progress in wallowing. There is only self-loathing and self-pity.

That route leads to nowhere. You continue to dwell in the past mistakes and failures and hinders your ability to move forward, to look at the other routes.

For me, I’ve realized that there are two options: an optimistic and a pessimistic option. I opt for the optimistic approach. I just feel overall better when doing so.

Inadvertently, I realized an incredible lesson today. Goals are incredibly important. It can be the difference in achieving and not achieving something. They are necessary to progressing, developing, and growing.

As long as you are progressing in one-way or another, you’re doing great. Sedentary behavior produces a sedentary self. Always look for a new way to progress, a new way to improve.

But equally as important in progressing, is the recognition of self. Next time you set a goal for yourself and don’t complete it, do not wallow.

Use it as a stepping-stone to complete at a later date. Lastly, recognize that it is not the end of the world. You are still you. You are still amazing. You are still beautiful. And you are still progressing.

Be bold, be free, and love on.

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Equip Yourself With A Routine

I greatly value my days off. It’s incredibly rare when I have a day with absolutely nothing to do. Even then, I always have something planned.

I find it incredibly weird that I had so much free time as a kid and did literally nothing. My life comprised of eating, video games and sleeping (in that order). Nothing really was on the ‘important’ list.

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However, now I have very little free time but it is incredibly treasured. I usually know what is planned for the entire day and I have a list of things to accomplish.

We all have a very loosely based routine. Mine started with the morning, where I had a concise order of things I did everyday. My mornings went smoothly with no real breaks in it. It felt good. I started to implement a daily routine in my life.

Having a strong routine gives you a sense of control over your life, it allows you to manage your time better and it provides a healthy balance between work and play.

Before the Routine

The clinch pin before any routine is sleep. Strong sleeping habits will allow you to tackle all the life challenges, goals and your desires. Sleep is an undervalued factor in most peoples’ lives.

I will never understand the person that says that they can function on 4 hours of sleep. I simply respectfully disagree. 8-9 hours of sleep is what I need to function optimally.

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Equally as important is a proper sleep schedule. Try to get to bed and wake up around the same time everyday. It doesn’t have to be exact like some sort of robot, but roughly around the same time.

Achieving a proper schedule allows you to plan out your next day smoothly. It also allows for higher energy levels and an overall better sense of time.

Forming the Routine

Routine building can be a hard task. You don’t want to feel like a monotonous robot endlessly checking away calendar days. You want some spice in your life. I understand your point of view.

My idea of routine includes everything. I personally have time for work, hobbies, friends, and ‘me’ time. Everything I need, is satisfied before the days’ end.

When I started to build a routine I wrote down all the things I needed to do in a day. I needed to see my friends, I needed some ‘me’ time, I needed to work towards goals, I needed some time for hobbies, and I needed money (I don’t need to work).

Knowing exactly what I wanted from each day helped build the routine. It allowed me to be truly satisfied with each day. As I checked things off my routine list, I felt a sense of accomplishment.

Find a routine that works for you. What do you want in your daily routine? Write down all your things you need to do and want to do. Dedicate some time for each thing everyday.

As you complete them, cross them off (physically or mentally). As you start to form a routine, mix in new things. You’ll find yourself having more opportunities to mix in things you’d never thought you’d be doing.

There is a lot of power in a routine, mainly time management. The routine allows you dramatically increase your time management skills find that healthy balance in your life.

I puttered away a lot of time when I was younger. Was it a waste? Definitely. I feel like I am better off now with a routine than before.

You tell me. What are your thoughts on routines? Do you have a routine? If not, why? What does your routine consist of? Please leave a comment below. My readers and I would love to hear from you.

Be bold, be free, and love on.