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.


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.


When I was younger I had trouble paying attention. I’ve always been a spacey person, unable to hold on to a single thought for very long.

I’d tell a story, only to end up going on so many different tangents that I never reach any conclusions. At one point my teacher gave me a tape recorder to record his lessons because I couldn’t pay attention during class.

Being this way has its positives—it has made me a very fluid and creative person—but it has its negatives as well. For most of my life I have lacked all discipline and organization.

But, we all play the cards we are dealt, so I found a solution to my problem.

Write It Down

I started writing things down to help my memory, but I realized that there are a multitude of benefits that come from writing down your reminders, goals, and thoughts.

A thought is not something that you can grasp and it will often be forgotten, but when you write it down, you bring it into a tangible and permanent existence.

I have found three major ways to improve my life through writing. I’m confident that once you start writing things down, your life will move in the direction of your aspirations faster than it ever has.

And not only that, you’ll never forget to pick up the milk again—which brings us to our first point.

Write Lists And Notes For Memory

I have a horrible memory. I’ve actually forgotten my aunt’s and uncle’s names before. Don’t tell them I said that.

Remembering is hard work. Your brain has to encode information, then retrieve it at a later date. I don’t know about you but I like to give my brain a break whenever I can. It does literally everything for me so I feel like it deserves a break.

Before you go shopping, write a list. Better yet, write it throughout the week as you go. This way, when you leave the store you will know that you have everything you need.

Although it is embarrassing to forget the milk, that isn’t the only time notes are useful.

I write notes for just about everything. The books I read, YouTube videos I watch, the names of my neighbours, everything. Once I write something down it gives me a sense of relief. I no longer have to worry that I won’t be able to retrieve that information from the depths of my cluttered mind.

Writing notes and lists will make people think you have memory super powers. Try it out.

Write Schedules For Productivity

Just as writing a note helps you remember it, writing a schedule helps you stick to it.

When you get into the productive mood and you are thinking about all the things you are going to accomplish, it’s a great feeling. But if you are anything like me, that feeling doesn’t last forever.

You wake up the next day, and you don’t have that same enthusiasm. You are in a different mind-state and you can’t be bothered to think about all those things you wanted to accomplish.

Studies have shown that writing down a schedule helps you stick to your plans more so than if you don’t have specified times for tasks. It’s easy to understand why.

The first step to making any vision a reality—whether it’s a vision for your life, or just one for your day—is to give it permanence by writing it down. That way when your mood changes, you will have a reminder from yourself of what is important.

Write A Journal For Reflection

The last way I would encourage you to bring writing into your life is through a journal.

Notes and lists help you remember, schedules help you become organized and efficient, but journaling helps you to recognize patterns in your thoughts.

We have thoughts that come and go and we might not realize how often we go through certain thought patterns.

Journaling allows you to see the patterns in your thoughts over time and reflect on them.

If you have an issue that bothers you, you might not think it is a problem because you brush off the thoughts whenever they surface. But when you read through your journal, you realize that you have these thoughts frequently.

This ability to record your thoughts helps you see patterns in the otherwise fluid process which you cannot hold on to.

This type of reflection is a life changer. You discover the your innermost wants, fears, anxieties and values all through journaling.

I write every day, and each time I do it benefits me. I remember more, do more, reflect more and become more than I would without it.

If you are looking to get a big reward from a small practice, start writing everything down and watch your life transform.

You can thank me later.