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.

HOW TO MASTER JEDI MIND CONTROL

buddha what we think

Over the last couple of years I have become fascinated with the idea that everything in your life is a result of what goes on in your mind.

If there are two twins that are the exact same in every way, except that one is relentlessly positive and the other is endlessly negative, their lives would be completely different.

They could encounter the exact same scenarios and obstacles but they would perceive them in different ways. The positive person would see them as a chance to grow, and the negative person would see them as evidence that you can never succeed.

With this in mind I am convinced that learning to skew your mind towards the positive and the useful is the best way to completely transform your life.

Here are the three steps to learning to control your mind like a Jedi.

1) Observe your thoughts.

In order to start controlling the endless chatter in your mind you first have to get rid of the idea that you are your thoughts.

We tend to think that the chatter in our mind is who we are and that is it, but that is just a part of who you are. You are your whole body from top to bottom and your entire subconscious, not just your conscious thoughts.

Now what you need to do is to step back from your thoughts and observe them. Start keeping track of when you are thinking negatively. The next time you find yourself upset, step back for a second and think “Wow, I have a lot of negative thoughts right now.”

Doing this will help you catch yourself in these useless reflexive thought cycles. Nothing good comes from beating yourself up or feeling sorry for yourself so the more you start to catch yourself, the quicker you can implement my next step.

2) Cancel your negative thoughts.

Now that you are starting to keep an eye on what you are thinking instead of just letting the chatter go on, you can start to pull yourself out of these habitual thought patterns.

Your brain doesn’t like using a lot of energy, so if you are a person who naturally reacts negatively, your mind will jump to that first because it is easy. Doing something outside of the norm requires conscious effort, something your brain would rather avoid.
Yeah, thanks evolution, we really appreciate that…

My favourite way to pull myself out of my bad habitual thought cycles is to use an “interrupt mantra.”

An interrupt mantra is something that you start repeating over and over once you realize that you are in one of these cycles. It will replace your useless thoughts with the exact opposite and more useful thoughts.

If you are someone who has problems with procrastination, once you realize that you are thinking “Man, I hate doing this work, I just want to relax and watch some Netflix” you have to switch to your interrupt mantra. It could be something like “I am energized and ready to take on anything. I’ll conquer this project with ease and energy to spare.”

Repeat that as many times in a row as you have to and after a while of canceling your negative thoughts, your mind will start to reflexively jump to the positive and more useful thoughts.

It only makes sense that your procrastination will naturally shrink when your reflexive thoughts are that of being energized and ready to conquer the obstacles ahead of you.

Interrupt mantras can work for any negative thoughts. If you have negative thoughts about your confidence interrupt them with “I am an amazing and confident person. I am going to start giving myself the credit I deserve.”

If you have problems with willpower interrupt those thoughts by saying “I have tons of willpower to spare. I am a strong person who can beat any temptation with ease.”

Rinse and repeat as many times as needed whether it be ten, twenty, or thirty times in a row.

3) Meditation.

This step isn’t required, but it will make the whole process ten times easier. When I started meditating I didn’t realize just how impactful it would be. I also didn’t realize how many of my favourite celebrities and great thinkers meditated.

Everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Katy Perry, to Oprah Winfrey and more credit meditation as a key part of their success and ability to stay balanced.

We could discuss meditation for hours, the spiritual aspects, the physical effects it has on the brain over time or even just the calming effect it can create instantly. But for now there is one plus side to meditation that I want to share with you.

It allows you to step back from your thoughts.

With the type of meditation I do the point is to focus on your breath so intensely that your thoughts cease. Now, during meditation you are sure to have thoughts pop into your head. In this case you just allow them to surface without analyzing them, and then get back to focusing on your breathing. If you get an itch on your leg, you feel it, but then immediately bring your attention back to your breath.

This will train you to be able to have a thought or emotion surface without allowing it to pull you into its rabbit hole. This way when something happens in your daily life that aggravates you, instead of stewing over it for hours and ruining your whole day you can step back and say “is this really a useful thing to focus on? Do these thought patterns improve my life in any way shape or form, or do they just serve to steal energy and happiness from me?”

Armed with this ability to step back and question these reflexive thoughts, you can truly start to control your mind and use it for your own self improvement.

A quote that has been repeated by many of the great minds of the world, and is very close to my heart is: “The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”

This quote perfectly explains the two different relationships you can have with your mind.

Either you control it, or it controls you. The decision is yours.


With love
Steven Farquharson, 2HelpfulGuys

The King of All Lists

I’ve been doing to-do lists for a long time. Every single morning, I wake up and write down exactly what I want to accomplish by the end of the day.

As I crossed things off that list, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. Crossing things of my goal list is extremely gratifying.

In my opinion, to-do lists are amazing. They give you an outline of the day. They allow you to complete your goals and promote generating/implementing a routine.

They’re built for people that use the common excuse; “I don’t have time,” which, I’ve discovered, is quite a large number of the population.

Outline Your Day

Wake up every morning and write down exactly what you want to accomplish by the end of the day. Keep it short and concise.

Long lists prevent you from completing them, which knocks you down a peg at the end of the day. Make you sure you keep it small.

Have a set of constant goals that you must achieve (more on this later). For me, it’s daily affirmations, learning Spanish, and going to the gym. These are my constant goals to attain each day.

Make Time

For all intensive purposes, I consider myself a busy person. I blog, make videos; attend school and work, and constant learn (or read) something, which sucks up most of my time.

“How do you have time?”

The answer is quite simple. I make time. This is something magical about the to-do list. Having those goals on my to-do almost force me to make time. I know the feeling of not completing that list.

I work to avoid that feeling! I don’t have any extra divine time. I just make sure I fit it in. The to-do list encourages me to complete everything.

Build a Habit

To-do lists help build a routine. As mentioned, I have certain things that stay constant. Gym was always a constant habit, which I internalized early on.

However, affirmations and Spanish was something that never came easy. I constantly forgot to complete them or decided to avoid it for just one day.

Here’s where the list came in. Including those things on my list gave me extra motivation to complete it. I couldn’t allow myself to sleep without completing my list, even though it included a difficult Spanish lesson and time-consuming affirmations.

Now, those things are a constant event on my list, but I don’t need them to be. I’ve built the habit. I know, even without including them on the list, that I have to complete them before the days’ end.

Now, including those goals are formalities. Use your to-do list to build and internalize new habits.

“To-Don’t” List

I used to have a terrible nail-biting habit. My earliest memories included my fingers in constant pain and bleeding. I can’t place any early memories before nail biting.

I’ve pretty much done it my entire life. This was a hard habit to break.

How did I do it?

To-Don’t lists to the rescue. I started my day by writing “Today, I will not bite my nails.” And every night that I didn’t bite, I crossed it off.

Boom. Instant gratification.

The problem with people and bad habits is that they visualize the distant future. They see one week or month into the future and breaking the habit seems almost impossible.

Not biting my nails for a FULL week? Not drinking for a FULL week? Not smoking for a FULL week? That seems torturous.

Instead, focus only on today. Today is the only day that matters. Get through today. And then, tomorrow, get through that today. Time doesn’t exist outside of today. Time is just a series of todays.

Similar to the to-do lists, not being able to cross it off at the end of the day, felt terrible. My decision always includes gratification and today I will achieve it.

Be bold, be free, and love on.

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A Habit of Highly Effective People

People-watching is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. As I was taking the bus this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the under-rested student population.

Scores of people yawning, drowsy, passed out and drooling. They’re a complete mess. People do not sleep enough. There, I said it. Someone had to. I feel like it’s something that most people don’t do, but, in my opinion, is so important.

The solution seems so simple to me.

Just sleep more.

People use every excuse in the book. “I don’t have time. I have school! I just can’t sleep!” For me, the solution to all these problems is sleep.

I Don’t Have Time

When I tell people I have a job, a blog, a YouTube channel, and I’m at school full-time, they’re always baffled.

“Where do you find the time? I don’t have the same time you do.”

I do not understand. It seems to me that people think that I somehow have acquired extra time. That’s not the case. I have the same 24 hours that you have.

I appear to have more time because I sleep well. Time seems to be the biggest excuse in everyone’s life. This seems to be the go-to-excuse for most peoples’ problems.

For me, sleep seems to solve the time ‘problem.’ Want to know the secret? I sleep early. Sometimes so early, I can be considered an old man. I sleep early and wake up early.

I (almost) always wake up before the sun. You cannot imagine the amount of things you can accomplish before the sun rises. Everything is quiet and I’m able to finish tasks without any external distractions.

I Have School

Guess what? I also have school. School takes up large portion of my day. Once again, effective sleep is the key. Wake up early! The majority of my daily routine is completed before 8AM.

I give myself an hour after 8AM to focus on school activities. My mornings are efficient because of my previous 8-9 hours of sleep.

Secondly, it allows for better quality work. With adequate sleep, I feel alert and my memory is sharp. Studying is surprisingly easy, when you’re alert and sharp.

I Can’t Sleep

I met this girl who said, “I just can’t sleep. I lay in bed and can’t seem to fall asleep.”

Don’t worry; (unqualified) doctor Leroy is here to diagnose the problem. We talked for a while about her night routine. What she does and when she does it. Here it is:

She is on her cellphone! This just doesn’t make sense. You can’t be on your cellphone AND sleep.

Electronics (i.e. cellphones) produce blue light. Blue light affects your pineal gland (brain) and reduces your ability to produce melatonin.

Melatonin: A chemical in your brain that tells you its time for beddy-bye-bye.

The blue light tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Your brain says, “Hey, it’s daytime. You don’t need to sleep right now. STOP THE MELATONIN BOYS!”

Avoid all forms of blue light AT LEAST an hour before bed. My method is to read before bedtime.

Cut Out The Unnecessary

Cut out all the wasteful tasks in your day. Do you watch television for longer than you should? Do you putter your time away? Keep a log of everything you do for at least three days.

You will be amazed with the amount of time you waste on frivolous time-wasters.

The Most Effective Habit

Like it or not, sleep is incredibly important for literally everything occurring inside and outside your body. This habit is something most people often sacrifice. For me, sleep is one of the highest priorities.

Sleep combined with a strong daily routine allows for the maximum output of energy and efficiency.

 

 

Challenge: My bedtime is usually at 9:30PM-10PM. Sleep around that time and set an alarm for 6AM. Try this once. After getting your 8 hours, see how you feel in the morning. My bet is that you’ll feel how I feel, great.

Be bold, be free, and love on.

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One Simple Fitness Principle

I definitely need to preface this by saying that I am not an expert in this field, nor have I received any formal education on this topic.

I am purely speaking from life experiences and a compendium of research, that I have personally sent through my bullshit filter. Keeping that in mind, please consult your doctor before engaging in any physical activity.

In the purest understanding, fitness is a very subjective topic. Everyone has his or her own opinions on what works and what do not. Fitness is a combination of ‘research’ and bro-science.

For this reason, fitness has become a convoluted topic, with varying opinions filled with incredibly adamant people affirming their knowledge.

My base understanding of fitness consists of one core principle: Be active everyday. By being active everyday, I mean, doing any sort of physical activity. I intentionally make it sound vague.

When I first started ‘working out,’ it consisted of playing unorganized sports with friends. I wasn’t naturally gifted in any sport, but I enjoyed the act of running around with a basketball or a soccer ball.

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Key Principle – Be Active Everyday

Find something you thoroughly enjoy doing and all of the other elements of fitness will fall into place naturally. To stay fit in the long run, you need to see fitness as children do – for fun.

When it starts becoming work, you slowly consume willpower and eventually fall off. You have a limited amount of willpower each day. As we get older, we use up willpower on chores, kids, wives (and husbands), making dinner and taking out the garbage. Often, fitness is the first thing on the chopping block.

When you do something you enjoy, you take willpower out of the equation. Your natural inclination will be to gradually increase your workout. You continue to do it because you want to and enjoy it.

When you’re active everyday, your body feels good about it. Your brain releases endorphins (more on that topic here) and it will become easier to continue. It slowly becomes a daily habit and your natural inclination for variety will drive you to do more stuff over time.

I don’t recommend any sort of workout plan or system for fitness. Why, because what works for me, may (or may not) necessarily work for you. Everyone is different.

No matter how charismatic that exercise guru on your DVD sounds, don’t believe that someone else’s fitness plan will work for you. What you need is a natural and easy way to evolve into a fitness routine that works for your brain and body.

Any fitness routine that depends on willpower, will inevitably fail. Or worse, another part of your life will get affected when you divert willpower to fitness.

Routine

Construct some sort of scheduled routine for daily exercise. Join an organized team; exercise at around the same time everyday, or workout with a partner, friend, or spouse.

This will be the core to constructing a habit. Taking rest days between exercise days breaks up the pattern that creates habits. It becomes too easy to say today is a one of your non-exercise days, and maybe tomorrow too.

No Pain, No Gain

I’ve tried the ‘pushing yourself till you can’t’ system a few times. It has always failed for me (but maybe you’re different). For me, the ‘no pain, no gain’ system takes too much willpower. If I suck up willpower at the gym, I can barely resist binge eating after.

Secondly, this system puts additional stress on my body. My body is sore and debilitated. The soreness is like a penalty for exercising. When I had a penalty every time, it gave me a reason to stop and it was usually along the lines of “I’m too sore to workout today.”

I Don’t Feel Like Working Out

So how do you muster up the energy on those days where you just want to sit on the couch with a bowl of chocolate almonds and sloth out? The system that I found works best is setting a time frame.

On those days, I usually tell myself that in X amount of time, I will get up and go be active. I will allow myself to sloth out a little bit, but as the deadline to activity slowly approaches, I feel my energy begin to rise.

Another method that I have tried is putting on my workout clothes and going to the gym. When I’ve arrived at the gym, I usually do some form of activity because it would be a large waste of time otherwise.

Regardless of how you personally view fitness, the central point is to be deliberately active every single day. Being active is one of the essential maxims for good health – diet, being another maxim. Be active for your spouse and kids. But more importantly, be active for yourself.

Be bold, be free, and love on.