A Simplified Guide to Getting More Outcomes from Your Hard Work and Giving Your Hustle a Meaning
by Vishal Ostwal
**]© 2016 BY VISHAL OSTWAL.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
To the dreamers among us, the people who inspire others and those who hustle to create a better future.
We’re all working – each day, relentlessly, without fail.
We run busy amid frantic chaos, try to finish our work before deadlines, and make attempts to get everything done.
We stay up late, sweat on things that we don’t know much about, and in the end of the day we tire ourselves to sleep with a slight satisfaction of accomplishment in our hearts.
Why is it so? There’s no clear reason.
Perhaps, we’ve got used to it and it gives us a convincing belief of working hard enough.
But are we really creating some value with our work or are we just…working?
A truth you might already be aware of is that mere working won’t give you results.
Although you can do as much as you can and put all your might into your work, it isn’t your actual goal.
No, it’s not.
Even if you work more than usual and almost end up killing yourself, your success isn’t guaranteed. There are several other aspects to what we plainly call work, which often go unnoticed.
There’s always a way to separate what’s unnecessary from what matters. That way is what separates the achievers from the ordinary working class.
Why is it that some people fail to gain something in spite of honest and dedicated efforts whereas some others gain the same things with less efforts?
You may mention a hundred things. Like, the ones who succeed are smarter, they were already rich, or maybe they just got lucky and whatnot.
Yes, you might give a plenty of reasons.
Neither is the genuineness of your reasons questionable, as those reasons are actually responsible for the success of people and give them some sort of push.
But not always.
Apart from every possible reason you might mention, there’s one universal thing which plays a crucial role in all arenas of work, regardless of what the work is and what its purpose is.
The one thing which defines what you’ll get from what you do is – productivity.
[THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORK AND THE RIGHT KIND OF WORK
It was a hot summer afternoon when I was returning from my college along with three of my friends.
We strolled on the way, drowned in our own thoughts, and worried about our future. We were going to have our exams soon.
After a few minutes of walking, I broke the silence. I started complaining about everything that was ruining our efforts and what we were fed up of.
Our college had crammed students of eleven divisions in a single class. Though the class wasn’t so crammed since most number of students didn’t attend the college. Almost all of them went to private tuitions.
The teachers barely minded their duties. They got their salary anyway and cared less about their lectures.
Our self-studying habits weren’t favoring us and we felt incapable. Neither did our financial limitations allow us to afford proper tuitions.
At that time, we were stuck due to external influences rather than our own irresponsible attitude or something else. But did that matter? No.
We were the ones who were liable to be blamed for the consequences. And no, our helplessness wasn’t an issue worth considering to anyone.
I kept talking to empty my mind of the thoughts which were making me restless. I felt helpless while talking about them at the same time.
But the base of everything was just one huge insecurity which was – “We’re getting damned and it isn’t even our fault. We’ll likely be blamed for the outcomes in spite of being so screwed up.”
They would have listened anyway, because the thing about friends is that they listen to all the things you talk about. But what I was talking about at that time was rather sensible.
So I went on.
I kept speaking, until Harikesh interrupted me with his words.
He gave me a mature look and said, “The world doesn’t care about reasons, all it cares about are the results.”
The world doesn’t care about reasons, all it cares about are the results.
In that particular situation, those words hit me like a bullet.
For a moment I froze and pondered over what he had just said. I smiled and agreed.
I asked him whether he had made that quote, to which he replied that he hadn’t and laughed at his own wit.
But he was right. Every bit of his sentence was.
It didn’t matter to me where he had read that quote, because he had said a truth which governs everything we do and even controls it.
His words clearly expressed the fundamental reason behind why we work – to get results.
Don’t we all work to get money, study to get high grades, or read to learn? It’s always the purpose that drives us to do things.
Right kind of work gets you the results, whereas just working leads you nowhere.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE PRODUCTIVE
There are a lot of variable aspects attached to productivity which change as per the type of work to be done. Such as lifestyle of people, anticipated goals, used resources and other things.
Such as, a laborer can be more productive if he’s fit; an engineer when he’s smarter, right?
By the end of this book, you’ll have learned some ways to be more productive in your respective field, regardless of what it is.
I had mentioned in my previous book Ultimate Guide on How to Design an Ideal Schedule, the aim of everything we do is to get more things done.
However, the main emphasis of this book is to emphasize that along with getting more things done, it’s equally important to get the outcomes.
When work isn’t done properly, it ruins all the energy and effort put into it. Improper work doesn’t bring any outcomes. If any, mostly the bad ones.
Nevertheless, if we boil down every considerable facet of work and arrive one a single conclusion, it would be:
“Productivity is about working in a manner which gets you results instead of merely keeping you busy.”
IF YOU FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE FROM THIS BOOK, REMEMBER THIS
I still remember a few posters of the motivational speakers from my childhood.
In those photos, a serious looking guy dressed in a formal suit had his index finger pointed towards you with the clichéd caption near him “yes you can!”
Those posters made me feel like “Who? I?” as if he would immediately pull me into the poster, or maybe poke his finger in my eye.
Later on, the “Yes you can!” part got replaced with the “Work smarter, not harder” kind of thing, which since then is being repeated till now, and the phrase is still alive.
That ‘smart work’ is what I call nothing but productivity.
Being productive means working in a manner that gets you more results, makes you successful and helps you achieve more.
If there’s one thing you must learn from this book, it would be pausing occasionally while doing something and questioning yourself “What can I do to get better outcomes from my work.”
**]At the end of this book, I’ll provide you with some free resources which will help you to create a custom plan for yourself and actually work on activities which can make you productive.
They’ll guide you take specific steps.
You can also get in touch with me if you want me to help you out with something. Please do that; I’ll be happy to help.
Though, for now, read this book till the end and try to grasp the concepts which suit you. You don’t need to inculcate all the methods mentioned in your life. Only focus on what’s essential.
I repeat, even if you forget everything else mentioned in this book, remember that the purpose of your work is getting results, which you can achieve by reflecting on your methods.
[WHY MOST PRODUCTIVITY PLANS FAIL
It’s rare that people make productivity plans. Not all people have a productivity plan, as it never seems a concern to them.
However, everyone follows an unwritten productivity plan. Chances are, you already have one even if you don’t know about it.
If you spend each day doing a specific set of activities in a certain order – then you’re already abiding to one.
When you do things to save your time, quit old habits, adapt to some methods or follow a specific pattern while working – then it’s nothing but your productivity plan at work.
However, if you create a productivity plan, then there will be a lot of a space for betterment in your life.
A productivity plan not only makes your goals much clearer to you but also brings an end to the chaos in your life. It acts like a blueprint.
It can be a blessing.
Some people even try making productivity plans. I appreciate that, because those people are more likely to act on what they plan than ones who don’t decide at all.
Yet, making a productivity plan doesn’t work sometimes.
Here are three precise reasons why most productivity plans of people fail. In short, either their plans are vague and not formed properly.
[1. They focus on too many things
If you focus on every detail, try to make everything perfect, and become cautious about all the steps you take – you’ll end up doing nothing.
It’s tough to remember and practice all ideas. What’s even tougher is using them altogether.
You don’t need to dig into unnecessary things and overwhelm yourself with information that doesn’t matter. It only makes you confused and worried.
When you need to deal with a lot of things in the same span of time, you lose your focus and become baffled.
A sudden imbalance takes over your life and ultimately makes you incapable of working.
You may start switching from one method to another, one idea to another, and yet achieve nothing significant.
To be honest, that never works.
Keep things simple, stick to a few set of ideas and don’t exhaust yourself by trying too hard.
Do a job in a single way which works fine for you instead of trying 20 different ways.
If you have a few options which satisfy all your requirements, avoid the urge of trying out the rest of them.
The numerous choices you have around yourself are often superficial; they don’t matter.
The art lies in doing more with less. Minimal requirements, more work.
Put all your choices and options under consideration and boil them down to only what’s necessary.
When you focus on less, you can do more.
[2. They’re strategy oriented instead of outcome oriented
We all work for outcomes.
It’s good to be concerned with the way you do things, inculcate new habits or make plans.
In fact, it’s vital to your successes.
However, don’t lose track of your actual goals while you focus on methods.
Make your goals the center of all that you do, not the work.
Yes, it’s obvious that doing the right work can always get you the right results. But when you work keeping your goals in mind, you’re much likely to get better outcomes.
It’s much like setting a destination or point while you’re taking off. Once you figure out where you want to reach, you can also find out how you wish to go.
Overall, before you work on something, make your goals clear and then do what you need to do in order to accomplish the results you’re aiming for.
It’s the best practice to take immediate actions. Keeps your practices goal-oriented instead of spending too much time thinking about the methods.
3. They miss a pattern]
Unknowingly creating disturbances for yourself and randomly executing all your plans is another quite common way to ruin all your valuable efforts.
There’s no need to implement everything you know in your work without realizing a need for it.
This may leave you to keep juggling a hundred different actions that are of no use.
Instead, use a few techniques for a few days and try out some other until you find what suits you, and then keep the ones that work for you. Simple?
Once you’ve decided what’s right for you, execute everything sequentially and in a certain order and abandon the rest.
Doing this will help you to focus in you gaining a stability in your long term work habits, if not immediately.
[THE BIGGEST ENEMY OF PRODUCTIVITY
Work is satisfying.
Staying up late until your eyes beg you for sleep, sitting constantly in front of your computer till your back aches, rushing hurriedly until you sweat hard, or drudging till you become tired.
Yes, work is compelling, satisfying, and sometimes, even addictive.
Working hard makes you realize that you’re playing your part, it protects your belief of being a dedicated person, and above everything it shows that you take responsibility for what you do.
This all gives you the satisfaction of work, doesn’t it?
But unfortunately, the truth is, sometimes it’s nothing more than false satisfaction of work.
Most of your time is spent in doing tasks which barely contribute to the results. The tasks which keep you busy and engaged instead favoring your efforts.
Not everything that you do is important. Just a fraction of it is.
You get distracted and become busy instead of being productive. You dedicate your skills and capabilities to the work that doesn’t count. That’s when you get sidetracked by the illusion of work.
This illusion of work is fatal.
It wastes your time, makes you think that you’re doing something worthy when you’re not, and doesn’t do any favor to you.
Most people don’t think much about their work habits once they stick to a routine. They get used to what they do.
They go on doing the same set of tasks in the same ways without questioning whether their efforts are helping them reap anything significant.
Though outcomes can’t always be controlled, if you work the right way, occasionally keep refreshing your methods and habits, then you can have the odds on your side.
If you do your work the correct way, you get to see effects. If you do it wrong, you get some mess to deal with. It’s that simple.
[HERE’S WHY MOST PRODUCTIVITY TIPS MIGHT NOT BE WORKING FOR YOU (AND IT’S ALRIGHT)
Chances are that you may have already practiced some productivity tips earlier. They may or may not have not worked for you.
It’s alright if you aren’t able to keep up with all the advice you get.
You can’t become a superman overnight. We’re all imperfect and take some time inculcate new habits.
We don’t always act on what we read, and neither can we do what we aim to do within a certain period of time.
Rather, it’s about how we mold and prepare ourselves in the long to by accepting tiny changes and making them a permanent part of what we do.
So if you find yourself lacking in some aspects of your work and get dissatisfied with yourself, then learn to be fine with those flaws since you can always get better later.
But there’s a harsh truth attached to the above fact. All the above words are meaningless if you aren’t ready to act on them with dedication, discipline and consistency.
It’s your willingness and commitment which can set everything right for you more than anything else.
ONE MORE THING
The truth is, you might lose the actual purpose of whatever you do if you try too hard to make it right.
Being thoughtful about productivity is alright, but if get too obsessed with it, then it will start affecting you negatively.
Don’t be so concerned about becoming productive that productivity itself becomes an obstacle to your work.
WHAT’S THE NEED TO BE PRODUCTIVE?
You shouldn’t bear a loss. Especially the one that’s caused due to trivial reasons.
While you might be a busy person, it doesn’t make sense to do the work which serves no purpose.
Every bit of effort you put in your work must be worth it. It must make you better. Because, if it doesn’t, it may not be worth doing as well.
If you say that you have no time to reflect on your methods, to manage your schedule, or to review your habits, then you’re just trying to hide your carelessness by pretending to be busy.
It’s pointless to intentionally create some irreparable losses for yourself by covering up your irresponsible behavior.
How long do you wish to keep on doing what doesn’t add value to your life, doesn’t earn you something, and keeps you from improving?
Stop wasting your energy, time and resources. If you’re doing something, make it matter. What’s the point in slogging all day and yet remaining undervalued?
[Most unproductive people have a few things in common:
To be clear, most wastage of your efforts occurs when you get satisfied with what you do and how you do it. There comes a stage when you begin to believe that what you’re doing is right, after which you don’t think any further.
That sureness and confidence is fatal to your work. It makes you blind to progress. It prevents you from thinking any further and binds you to a limited circle of thoughts.
To remain in a state where you think you’re doing everything right is harmful. It’s better to be doubtful and reflect than to be confident and go on making blunders.
Be open to change.
You and I live in a world where nothing is stable. Everything changes. Methods, practices, ideas and…everything.
If I tell you a key to be productive forever, then I would be lying as there’s no such thing.
Yet, my responsibility through this book is to trigger your thoughts and make you think from another perspective. I want you to experience a thought-shift and finally establish a right balance between all that you do.
If you’re wondering what this thought-shift might be like, then let me tell you – it won’t be as hard as you might think.
Just some reflection and remodeling of thoughts and actions. Once you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to practice what you’re thinking about, your start taking steps towards becoming productive.
[A LIST OF PRODUCTIVITY TIPS WHICH WORK
**]Below is a list of productivity tips which fit into any kind of lifestyle and work universally for all.
You may be a student, an entrepreneur or a housewife – doesn’t matter. There are some truths and fundamentals which are applicable to all of us.
The rulebook is same for everyone when it comes to productivity at a basic level. I can’t make it more complicated. I don’t want to.
Therefore, I’ve included following tips which are likely going to be helpful to all, no matter what kind of work they do or what kind of life they lead.
Use these tips to thrive at whatever you do. I hope they work for you.
From the given tips, find out the ones which might work for you and align your habits with them. Make them a part of your life. Practice them until they become a habit.
Unlearn the old and futile habits
One mistake which people make while adapting new habits is not giving up the old ones.
They want to ignore the parts of themselves which they think aren’t a problem and take up new ideas.
Sadly, plastering a new coat of ideas on the base of same old weary thoughts and habits is only going to worsen the situation.
There won’t be anything surprising if you fail to achieve your goals in spite of doing all the right things as far as you don’t let go what’s holding you back.
Cast out the old dogmas that drag you down, give up the activities that don’t add up to your successes, stop doing the work that doesn’t matter.
Never used to wake up early? Try now.
Do you think multitasking always works? Not always. Quit it if you need to.
Is your desk a cluttered place? Learn to keep it fine if that’s affecting you and make it a habit.
These small changes matter. Quitting the ineffective habits and ideas is the first step towards being productive. Start anew.
Change what needs to be changed and go along.
Always have a plan
Are you someone who directly jumps into an activity without thinking much about its purpose and circumstances?
Well then, you’ve got something to work on.
Don’t be the person who doesn’t know what he’s doing. There are already plenty of such people around, and they aren’t good at what they do. Not in most cases.
You need to have a plan if you wish to be flawless at what you do. A plan is the basic blueprint on which all your work is dependent. It’s responsible for everything that happens your work and for the outcomes it brings as well.
Craft an awful plan and you fail.
Create a decent one and you ensure your chances of success.
Make no plan and you keep wondering what the heck is happening to your work.
Although you might not notice it, the plans you create, either on papers on in your mind affect the structure of your overall work.
It’s the foundation on which the effectiveness of everything you do is based. You cannot ignore it. You shouldn’t. Because it’s a crucial part of what you do.
The next time you start something or take up a new activity, be sure to make a plan. It definitely helps.
However, don’t get so much trapped in planning that you forget doing the actual work and stretch your deadlines unnecessarily. You don’t want to get trapped in ‘analysis paralysis.’
Here’s a simple tip to get started soon without getting overwhelmed by the analysis paralysis – ‘Plan only as much as it’s needed to get started, and improve the rest later.’
This means that you don’t have to figure out all the aspects of a problem from the beginning till the end while you’re just taking your first step. You can learn and adjust your plans whenever necessary – later.
Your only duty for the time being is to make sure that you don’t make any blunders, know how you’re going to do things to achieve your goals, and start as soon as you can.
A simple plan can be more than enough to set things right for you.
Do you know where you keep your cellphone? Or do you spend some minutes each day searching for it?
If you don’t have a place assigned to keep your keys and you occasionally keep losing your belongings, then you’re disorganized.
These are just the simple things, right? After all, everyone forgets things.
These simple things are responsible for wasting a lot of your time each day by creating tiny holes in your schedule and frustrating you over and over.
A couple of blunders are enough to ruin your mood and positivity, to put a frown on your face, and to distract you from your actual goals.
These insignificant things add-up to your problems and degrade you lifestyle as well as the quality of your work.
As long as you stay ignorant and deny reflecting upon how disorganized you are, some chances of your betterment always remain restrained.
Why would you spend time doing things that contribute to nothing and tire you? The more disorganized you are, the more you need to deal with the senseless activities which don’t contribute to your work in any way.
Spend some time in organizing your things.
Maybe by sorting the files in your computer, arranging books on the shelf, keeping the stationary in the drawer, or simply by placing all the items in your room at specific places.
The habit of staying organized pays off in the long term once you understand how it affects you.
Collect your resources]
Once friend of mine borrowed a pen from me for a while. After writing a couple of lines he found it quite comfortable to use and said that it helped him write better.
The other day he bought the same pen.
If you ask me what’s so significant about this event then I would say a lot.
Most of us deny the importance of the things we use and their effect on our work.
Also, this part of work is so insignificant that it likely goes unnoticed. If you pay some attention to all the things you use and their effect on your productivity then you’ll understand the need for them to be changed.
The things that you use determine the quality of your work, the products that are part of your lifestyle form you, your accessories and gadgets are made to simplify your work for you, and all of these are responsible for your productivity as much as anything else.
If most of your work is done online, why not switch to a faster internet connection?
If you’re a housewife who cooks each day, is it alright to use the same old blunt knife?
If you own a desktop that’s even older than your son, shouldn’t you switch to a better alternative?
If you travel a lot but your shoes bite your feet each day and make you uncomfortable, don’t you need to be change them too?
Keep your excuses aside and find a reason to change what makes you unproductive or causes inconvenience to you. Cut the unnecessary troubles by investing some money in buying necessities that enhance your productivity, or at least make sure that you don’t worsen it.
You don’t need to burn a hole in your pocket either. Just find something that suits you and is within the reach of your means.
The biggest advantage of this practice is the improvement it’s capable of bringing in the quality of your life. It definitely makes it better and easier.
Being ignorant to the tools, resources and the other essentials which you use only adds up to the troubles which already exist.
Why create more troubles for yourself?
Switch to simple-tasking
The conflicts between multitasking and single tasking are rather popular nowadays, along with some psychological data used to back up both the sides.
What I’ve found is that single tasking works for me. But I don’t deny the role of multitasking either, as it has been a lifesaver for me on several occasions.
But what is it that you should be exactly doing? Multitasking or single tasking.
Here’s some truthful advice – don’t overcomplicate things for yourself.
Really. I mean look at the mess around yourself, people talk about the terms that they barely have any knowledge about and screwing up what’s already enough screwed.
If you get confused by this chaos, then you aren’t the person to be blamed for since you’re just trying to find out what works for you.
The best way I’ve learned to be productive is to not complicate what can be kept simple.
To be clear, don’t listen to the all the blabbering out there. Don’t even listen to me and focus much on finding out what works for you.
You don’t need to be in the team of multitaskers or singletaskers.
You can be both.
If you get more done when you have a single task at hand, then it’s fine. If you do kickass job when multitasking, that’s fine too.
For instance, if you’re someone who can concentrate more in utter silence in a dim room with the door closed, then keep the door closed.
If you’re someone who can read a self-help book, listen to rap music and have the breakfast at the same time as well, then be cool with that.
Try getting much done and care less about the process. If you just figure out what makes you more productive then you don’t need to worry about the rest.
However, here’s some practical advice – multitasking works in case of small and insignificant tasks, whereas single tasking is always beneficial when you need to stay focused on some important job.
So it’s still better for you to understand the mechanism of both of these and act accordingly.
Yet, I strongly recommend single-tasking as it’s better to get a job done and switching to another one later, instead of dividing your focus and getting nothing done.
Distractions are tempting and hard to resist.
They’re capable of swallowing your hours, keeping you from achieving your goals on time, and dragging you away from your responsibilities.
However, there’s one thing you must know – distractions cannot be completely killed.
They’re always there.
There’s social media, your favorite shows, friends, daydreaming, and a lot more. You can’t get rid of all these as they all play a part in your life.
So a better solution is to control them instead of attempting to vanish them.
Which means that you don’t blame what distracts you. You don’t try to get rid of it or complain about it either. Instead, you choose them. Sounds indifferent? Let me explain.
This may take some discipline too but I can assure you that it isn’t going to be hard.
You get distracted when:
For the first case, which is when you try to find and escape from your work, you should learn to control your fear and laziness and stick to your work until you get enough done. There’s no other way because you’ll need to do what you’re supposed to do.
However, the other two types are rather common and the ones which are a problem for most people, but comparatively simpler to solve than the prior one.
Here are a few quick tips to get you started.
Remember that your first job is to finish the tasks and keep distractions temporarily at bay when you’re working. So keep working until you complete a pre-decided quota. Don’t think much about distractions, they come and go.
Stay focused solely on work and don’t do anything else unless you finish your task. If you get distracted, don’t feel guilty or stress over your careless attitude and get back to work.
Also, assign some time to the activities that distract you so that they don’t interfere your working hours, else they’ll keep making you uncomfortable unless you do them.
For example, if night is the time when you usually find yourself tired and incapable of doing anything important, then feel free to check your Facebook account or watch your favorite movie.
At last, what matters is that you take control and don’t get much trapped in distractions.
Keep your cellphone inside the drawer while you’re working and turn off the notifications, say no to the friends and relatives if you’ve have something important at hand. Keep thinking within regular spans to ask yourself whether you’re getting distracted.
Above all, if you’re doing much and getting results then distractions shouldn’t be a huge problem for you. Usually, people only get distracted because they allow themselves to be.
Though, I have to admit that controlling distractions isn’t as simple as it sounds. So I have one practical advice to share which always works – Realize when you’re getting distracted and get back to work immediately.
Often, when we get distracted, we realize that we have been distracted. We notice when our attention switches from one thing to another. We subconsciously keep noticing all that we do and what happens. However, we pretend to be ignorant. Sometimes we don’t notice that we’re allowing ourselves to get distracted.
So if you want to put an end to your distractions, then the only reliable way is to get back to what your were doing the moment you realize that you have been distracted.
Stop the random activity you take up – immediately – and complete what you were doing.
It might be hard in the beginning, however, this practice can help you make remarkable progress once it becomes a habit.
Hold your urge of doing something else for a while until your finish the work at hand. You can do other things as well, but finish the task at hand first.
Keep some to-do lists
To-do lists work. Always.
I’ve been using them since years and what I’ve discovered is that having some to-do lists can help you concentrate on your tasks by assisting you in accomplishing them earlier than usual.
If you make a to-do list, you’ll spend more time finishing essential goals instead of wondering about your plans.
By making a to-do list you’ll give yourself some definite steps to be take which need to be finished within a deadline and you’ll keep heading towards achieving those goals.
Make a list of everything that crosses your mind and note it down. It’s better to spend some time jotting down what’s important to you than staying confused and thinking about incomplete tasks every hour of the day.
Is the lack of preparation for your latest meeting bothering you? Include it in your list.
Does your vehicle need to be serviced? Include it too.
If you haven’t made making to-do lists a habit, try starting now and see how well it goes.
As I usually suggest, go for two lists at least i.e. first one for short term tasks which you might need to do within a day or week, and the other one for your long term goals which you want to accomplish within a few months or a year.
The joy of cutting-off an item from your to-do list is one of the biggest satisfaction you can have when you find yourself lacking in your work.
Not only it can keep you motivated but also serve like a progress-bar to you, since you’ll be aware of the fact that how much you’re actually achieving as compared to what you’re aiming for.
Hence, you can make some changes in your life as per what you learn about yourself, remold what you do, and ultimately get better at estimating how you spend your time.
We aren’t living in the Stone Age.
We don’t need to hunt for food, travel miles to fetch water or spend our lives doing nothing significant.
And all this has been possible due to technology.
Technology was made to serve us and make our lives easier, then why shun it? Why claim that we’re becoming slaves of it when there’s so much that can be done using it?
If you wish to be productive, then better learn the art of exploiting technology in all ways possible and harness it for your benefit.
Use technology wherever it can be used to ease your work and leave no space void of it – to some extent at least.
These are just a few random clues to get you started.
You’re free to expand this list by implementing technology in various aspects of your lifestyle.
The conclusion? Use technology, it’s there for a purpose.
The problem which prevents people from using technology is that they want to avoid the learning curve which it demands.
They think that they’re better-off doing things conventionally rather than spending their important time doing some random stuff.
However, what they fail to realize is the amount of time they could be saving in future if they decide to teach themselves for some time.
The solution to this problem is to [allow yourself to get used to technology.
Which means that start using technology even if it feels uncomfortable and odd until you become capable of using it to your own advantage.
A simple example is the computer. You know how useful the device is, and you also understand that it needs some learning. But learning it was worth it, wasn’t it?
Technology in all other cases is sort of similar – it only overwhelms you and seems useless until you learn it.
If you wish to use technology to your own advantage then you need to take some time out to master it.
Define tasks clearly
You cannot act unless you know what you’re supposed to do.
Don’t make plans based on mere imaginations and thoughts but rather have a specific action-directed method.
Most of your goals won’t get done unless they’re clearly stated, even if just to you.
You must know what it’s exactly that you want and what it’s that you’re working for. At least have a general idea about it.
You want to be successful? Cool. But it’s an idiotic thing to say to yourself.
“I will be successful” is just another vague term.
Define what success means to you.
Does it mean getting a job in your favorite company, earning a certain amount of money, or accomplishing the tiny dreams in your life? Once you’ve chosen a goal, find ways to act on it.
If you’ve chosen to earn $10,000 a month, then make it clear to yourself that how you’ll achieve your goal.
Will you be investing your money in the stock market, starting a business, or doing something else? Specify it.
Remember that this technique of making things clear and definite works in all aspects of life.
Whatever it’s that you’re trying to do, have some clear ideas about it, take some steps to achieve it and your chances of succeeding will automatically rise.
Vagueness doesn’t work when you set goals. Precise actions are what make you productive and get you the actual results. Otherwise you go on making plans without achieving anything.
Mind your health]
On the way to chasing your goals it’s quite easy to underestimate your health.
It never seems to be a matter of concern unless you find yourself panting after running a few hundred meters, or eating medicines in bed due to some unexpected fever.
Underestimating your health keeps degrading the quality of your life and might become one of your biggest regrets.
No one wants to grow old to inject syringes in oneself, depend on dozens of pills to stay alive, or miss all the pleasures in life. But sometimes people become helpless.
Your health is one of the major keys that controls your productivity. Take care of it.
It decides how long you can keep working without getting tired and your activeness as well. In fact, a lot of things.
You’re a human, not a machine.
Find some time to exercise, feed on a proper diet, and pay attention to your body posture. These things matter more than you might think.
It isn’t always necessary to join a gym or lift weights like a wrestler – just keep up a lean shape, maintain a proper hygiene, and try finding some ways to include healthy habits in your schedule.
That would be enough.
Be an early riser, or an owl maybe
Waking up early is one the habits which I have heard most about from people.
“It makes me productive, and gives me more time stay prepared for the day,” is what they usually say.
Rising early not only keeps you from slouching all day but also keeps you active throughout the whole day if you do other activities like exercising, meditating, or eating your breakfast which would otherwise get missed out if you wake up late.
I’ve tried waking up early for several months and discovered that it made me feel more energetic, allowed me to plan my day and prevented me from rushing at the start of the day itself. It’s like getting more hours in your day.
Waking up early made me feel lively and I’d recommend you to be an early bloomer if that’s what works for you.
However, personally I’m a night owl and in no way it seems to be affecting my productivity either.
Usually I stay up till midnights for completing articles and working. It’s because being an introvert, I prefer the serenity, peace and silence of the night over the chaos of day as it helps me concentrate better.
Nevertheless, I’m quite flexible with both of the approaches.
What I want to say is that the time you choose for doing tasks with higher priority is crucial as it determines how much you can get done.
It doesn’t matter what time as far as you feel active and don’t disrupt your life.
Choose the quarter of clock when you’re a superhero and surrender yourself to those moments. Exploit that time and make the most out of it.
Yet, it’s preferable that you decide your time of work based on your lifestyle and work.
Which means that it’s better to mold your schedule and activities based on the kind of life you live, work hours, and whatever you find convenient.
For example, if you’re someone who works at night, then jogging at 5 a.m. after returning from office doesn’t make sense. So you can choose to run in the evening instead.
You get that.
Same applies to all the other activities you need to do.
Be enthusiastic about what you do
Your chances of success can be predicted by the way you start.
If you’re inspired, motivated and excited, then you might be hard to stop. But if you’re careless, filled with pessimism and inattentive to your work, then you’ve already moved on to a wrong track.
Look at any of the people around you whom you consider as successful or productive. You’ll find out that they’re all dedicated about their thing and are deeply in love with what they do.
Similarly, the attitude that you carry along with you decides how far you can go as it reflects some truths about you.
If you take up a tasks that you have nothing to do with, and you fail to find a purpose in them, then the outcomes will surely be dull.
Opposite to this, if you sincerely do what you have been assigned with and keep alive the spark within you, then chances are that you’ll only ascend.
So instead of forming a habit of complaining and thinking of all the worst things possible, turn your attention to being more positive and bringing out the best in you.
Smile for having the opportunity of doing what you’re doing, respect it, love it and dedicate yourself to whatever you do.
Give your work the attention it needs and deserves. Give it as much as you can.
It takes nothing much to maintain a hopeful mindset and interest, but it affects your work more than you may think.
Don’t be a perfectionist
Nothing can hold you back as much as your want for perfection.
The desire for perfection prevents you from working more by arousing fear and shame within you.
Soon it breeds self-criticism and doubts that make you unsure of your abilities. You begin to question whether you’re good enough, or that does your work really count.
It’s better for you if you start learning to be imperfect.
Your work may not always please others or be a masterpiece. You can’t always get what you want no matter how hard you try. Your responsibility is to try your best and not to worry about the results.
Dare to be careless, let some things break, and don’t complete everything that needs to be finished, because when you become so cautious, you also become incapable of doing great work.
Productivity consists of finishing work within a deadline, and if the work you do goes on stretching beyond eternity then maybe you should stop giving a darn to perfection and rush a bit faster.
[Get comfortable with discomfort
Work can’t always be fun, else there wouldn’t have been people who shun working.
The unpleasant truth about work is that it can’t always be easy or enjoyable to do.
In fact, sometimes it’s difficult, exhausting, and disappointing. You may even curse your life and have regrets for having to do the work that tires you without giving you any time for yourself.
Find as many shortcuts as you can, yet there will always remain a portion of work that would still require blood, sweat and tears.
There always comes a time when you reach the end of the rope and nothing could be made simpler, so you finally need to do your job no matter how uninterested, tired or helpless you are.
If you wish to become productive then get comfortable with some discomfort, as nothing would be easy to gain.
Work harder if you need to, delay your sleep to get your job finished, work wherever you are even if the surroundings distract you, complete your job even if with a broken tool or gadget, keep going even when you have enough reasons to justify your troubles, push yourself when you don’t feel like working, and don’t hinder from your path.
You can’t always have the ideal conditions for yourself, but you can transform the normal ones into ideal conditions by adapting yourself to them.
Don’t mind some discomfort. Your job is to keep going – anyhow.
[Do nothing at times
You’re a human, not a robot.
This means that you aren’t capable of finishing all your tasks before deadlines, always making the right moves or completing a pile of duties at once.
You shouldn’t expect yourself to be always perfect, because you can’t be.
Obstacles may arise often, you may be assigned with unexpected tasks, and most importantly, such obvious things keep happening as long as you work.
At such time, when you feel exhausted and find yourself lacking behind, then resting for some time and abandoning whatever you’re doing would be a favorable idea.
Leave your work completely. Don’t take calls, don’t think about the problems, don’t give a darn to anything and be at peace for some time.
This way you’ll improve your own wellbeing by releasing the frustration and stress that builds during the course of your working.
One advantage of this practice is that once you’re finished, you come back much energetically with a refreshed mindset. This gives you a chance to think about your problems differently.
Your problems look smaller to you, you stop worrying about what you weren’t able to stop thinking about and you feel at peace.
If necessary, don’t even mind taking some days off or going on a vacation with your family. It shall certainly improve your state.
[Rest your own way
Resting is as much important as working since it determines your efficiency.
Some people get so much involved in work that they completely neglect their health and emotional wellbeing.
They don’t mind skipping some meals, spend sleepless nights, or sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of work which ultimately leads them to a lifestyle that’s chaotic and dissatisfying.
Even machines get ruined when used ceaselessly, and in that case, we’re even more delicate.
Give your body the rest it deserves in any of the ways you feel comfortable with.
Sleep for six or eight hours – it doesn’t really matter. Somewhat. If you find yourself yawning, longing for sleep, or always wake up tired, then consider increasing the duration of your sleep.
You’re free to sleep in the noon if you need to, or take some tiny naps after intervals between your works.
Rest as much you should to be productive, because working when you’re tired or unable to concentrate won’t only negatively affect your work but also ruin your health.
[Analyze and reflect why you aren’t getting results
**]‘Getting results’ is a word which is rather theoretical than practical.
It’s tough to find out what counts in making something successful. Doing only what would bring the right results isn’t always possible.
There’s no way to only do the right things.
However, if you understand and learn the rules which govern your relevant arena then you can definitely be sure that the outcomes will be as you expect them to be.
This can only be done by constant experimenting, analyzing your current situation and needs, accepting new methods and doing more often what works.
There may be some reasons why you aren’t getting the right results. Find those reasons and work on them.
Pause. Reflect on what’s wrong. Solve that before you proceed.
Make things as simple as they can be made
Ask a question each time you do something, “Can it be made simpler?”
The practice alone can elevate your productivity beyond your expectations.
If you’re smart enough, you know what kind of questions you should be asking to yourself.
Here are a few questions which you should often ask yourself:
Sometimes, being lazy is much favorable than laboring without a purpose.
Invest in yourself
Learning can never be enough, for you only grow when you learn.
If you wish to live happily, then find ways that can improve your lifestyle.
Forget you short term problems for some time, let alone your to-do list, and think only about the changes you wish to bring within the next few years.
Whatever be your capabilities, they always have limitations. These limitations are what hold you back and prevent your growth. And the only way to remove this obstacle is to keep learning as you go.
Find some time to create, develop new skills, or improve your hobbies.
Although it might seem that you’re quite busy and can’t be making yourself any better than you are, you’ll be surprised to discover how huge difference your tiny actions can bring in the long run.
Most successful people, the ones who are content with their lives and bring out the best in themselves, are the ones who keep collecting tiny bits of knowledge, accomplish small goals, and learn new ideas to bring some lasting changes.
Take up some new lessons, learn the language you always wanted to, learn to swim or play a musical instrument.
Each thing you learn makes your life better than it was before.
Also, while you’re involved in the present, keep doing things which can better your future. For instance, saving money, exercising, and other actions which decide what your future might be like.
[Focus on innovating and find what makes you productive
Once you follow a regular set of chores, keep a track of your progress in terms of results achieved and the positive changes which you have witnessed.
Doing this will help you to understand your current scenario and assist you in making the right moves.
Keep an eye on the changes brought by your various habits. Find what wastes your time each day, follow the schedule which suits you, drop the ideas that don’t work for you, and innovate some new ones of your own.
This is the only tip you’ll ever need maybe.
SOME THINGS YOU MUST KNOW
The basic practices mentioned above are more than sufficient for you to be productive at whatever you do.
However, many theories which have formed over time are said to enhance productivity.
The research conducted by analyzing the human behavior in different situations shows that if one acts in a particular manner while working and follows the suggested approach, then the results can be improved.
I’ve listed down some methods and theories, and also explained how you can implement them in your life.
Everything you do can be divided into two categories:
The important part is the one which brings outcomes, the other part is the ineffective one.Whatever be the work you do, dedicate more of your time to the tasks which are responsible for the results. As Pareto stated, focusing on the 20% alone can do miracles for you.
For example, doing your day’s work may take 8 hours, learning new skills may take 4 hours, and networking with others might need just 2 hours.
But which activity among these is the most useful? Practically, networking is far more effective.
Whenever you take up a new work, find out what’s more important to do and then create some space for doing it in your life.
Most of your time will be spent working, no doubt about that. Still, pay attention to which actions bring the most outcomes. Keep doing them more often.
“The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method technique which uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.”
If inconsistency is your problem – pomodoro technique might work to bring you back on the track.
According to the pomodoro technique, we are more productive when we take small breaks between the whole duration of our tasks instead of doing them continuously.
A single pomodoro requires you to work approximately between 15-25 minutes, followed by a 3-5 minute break.
One pomodoro cycle consists of 4 such pomodoros, after which you may take a long 15 minute break and start with a new cycle again.
However, using the pomodoro technique isn’t the most effective solution as you might get sidetracked easily if you aren’t serious about using it. Try it only if you’re determined about using it as it requires firm discipline.
You may use it for the best when you’re working for hours, for a long duration, as it’s more helpful under such circumstances.
“The Hawthorne effect is a psychological phenomenon that produces an improvement in human behavior or performance as a result of increased attention from others.”
We humans are far more conservative about how we’re perceived. Our mind always keep working on a subconscious level – it cares about social reputation and respect all the time.
Although the Hawthorne effect is environment-oriented, which means that it works on how others treat you, you may make it depend on yourself.
For example, suppose that you’re thinking about starting a new project. When no one knows about your project, you might not work as much hard as you should as no one knows about it but you.
However, when you tell your acquaintances about your project, they’ll ask you about your progress and make you self-conscious.
If you don’t work hard enough, you fear might be perceived as lazy person or a failure. Opposite to this, when you tell them about your successes, they’ll appreciate your efforts and drive you to work better.
If you are a social person and other’s attention doesn’t trouble you, use the Hawthorne effect to your advantage. Go tell everyone your plan if you’re struggling to get something done. Others will motivate and inspire you to get it done.
The other option is to work real hard without letting anyone know, and disclose what you’re doing only when you’re done.
[“We remember better that which is unfinished or incomplete.”
**]You know the feeling which you get when you leave something incomplete, don’t you? The one that makes you feel like something’s missing.
That feeling doesn’t stop poking your brain, and keeps you restless until you finish incomplete tasks or accomplish your objectives.
You can use that feeling to be more productive – by initiating the long awaited tasks.
If there’s something you want to do but you don’t, because you think that you don’t have enough time, then starting that task is the best thing you can do.
After that, the task will take over your head, it’ll remind you of itself, occupy your thoughts, and stay there until you finish it.
If procrastination is the thing you’re worried about, start somewhere, Zeigarnik effect will do rest of the work for you.
“It proposes that people are motivated by their conscious expectations of what will happen if they do certain things, and are more productive when they believe their expectations will be realized.”
We humans are motivated by outcomes. We work more effectively under better prospects. Greater rewards lead to better work.
If you were paid 10,000$ for a job instead of 1000$ a month, you’d work better, won’t you? That’s how our expectations rule our minds.
When you’re working, raise your expectations for yourself, think of the possible benefits which you’ll have, and visualize the rewards which you work for.
This will help you develop a positive outcome and motivate you to be productive.
However, don’t let those reward be the sole purpose of your work as you might get disappointed when your work fails to meet your expectations. If possible, keep your motivation-triggers emotional rather than material.
Use your goals to push yourself forward, but don’t be a slave of them either.
[“Work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.”
When you’re given more time than necessary to complete a task, you intentionally take more than usual – this is what the Parkinson’s Law states.
Suppose you can create a graphic within 20 minutes. However, you’re asked to get it done within an hour. Then chances are you’ll spend rest of the 40 minutes scrolling through Facebook, and drinking coffee.
Things get worse when you have some personal goals to accomplish, because then you’re not obligated, and hence take things more loosely.
In such situation, do two things to encounter this problem.
1. Keep a pile of tasks queued.
You stop working only when you don’t have anything else to do, so always keep a list of things with you which you can perform.
For example, you may decide to keep a list of tasks which you will only do when you don’t have any other significant activity to do.
This simple habit will help you accomplish more without wasting your time.
2. Assign only sufficient time but not more.
Taking longer than necessary is more a habit than an instinctual act.
If we make the best use of our abilities, we’d work on regular days as hard as we rush before a deadline. Though, we aren’t always in such a hurry.
Just give a task the time it deserves, nothing more. What remains will be yours to use productively.
A nice example of Parkinson’s Law are exams. You take enough time at start, but when you realize that time is less, you rush faster and get everything done within minutes.
If can somehow manage to keep up the same attitude while doing most activities then you can accomplish most of your goals on time.
“It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”
One common mistake most people make is approximating the required time to do something. They never get it right. No one does.
They suppose that they’ll reach their office in 20 minutes and plan accordingly. Later, they get stuck in traffic, stop to get the tank refilled, search for a parking spot, and reach after 35 minutes.
It happens to all of us – this is the reason why deadlines are postponed, professionals fail to ship products on time, and also why our lives are often messed up.
If reading this book is taking longer than you had expected, then it’s just Hofstadter’s law at work.
The only solution to this problem is to first think about the time which a certain task needs, and then extend it up to 1.75 times or so. It always works, in most cases.
The next time you predict how long a certain work might take, increase the time to have a reliable conclusion.
Another similar term is planning fallacy, which is as follows:
“The planning fallacy is the tendency of individuals to underestimate the duration that is needed to complete most tasks.”
You can learn all the life-hacks and yet find yourself incapable of making the best use out of your time.
That’s because it’s hard to remember so many ideas, and even harder to practice them. Even if you act on all that you learn, you’ll only be disappointed.
So here’s the final take – stick to the essentials and skip the rest.
Among all the ideas mentioned above, focus on the ones that work for you and unlearn the others so as to not let them become distractions.
LIST OF SOME EASY HABITS YOU MUST BUILD TO USE WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED
Below are some easy things you can start doing from today itself to be more productive.
Write the problem; write the solution
If you’re facing a problem while doing any work, sit back, relax and take out a pen and a paper.
Think about everything that’s bothering you and write it down. Concentrate on your problems, come up with the most appropriate solutions, and then write them down next to your problems.
Is there anything significant about this practice? It’s an ordinary trick, but it works. Also, you’ll feel less anxious after doing it.
Make accessible what’s crucial]
The closer you stay to the things that matter to you, the less prone you are to forgetting them, and more likely to act.
If you want to include salad in your diet, keep vegetables such that they’re the first thing you see after opening your fridge.
If you wish to read a book, keep it on your study table, not in the shelf.
If you forget about the side project you’re working on, stick a reminder about it in your laptop or at your workspace.
Whatever it is that matters to you, make it more accessible and easier to do.
Maintain a daily checklist]
Write down a list of things you need to accomplish each day. You can create the list at night before going to bed, or early in the morning.
Write down the tasks on a priority basis and make accomplishing them your mission for the given day.
Try to accomplish most items you include in the list by the end of the day.
Get some help]
You cannot do or figure out everything for yourself. When you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to consult others who are better than you.
For now, ask others to do for you what they’re good at. If you want to do the same things, learn the skills later.
Stay with the achievers
Staying with geniuses alone can enhance your productivity.
When you stay with the ones who are hardworking and aware of their goals, they motivate you and teach you some things which you might not even know about.
Eventually, you rise to a higher level since you go through a transformation, and develop a productive outlook.
This one habit can improve you more than anything.
Read books and blogs which are relevant to what you do, and emphasize on personal and career development.
Even if you’re busy, make some space for reading in the 24 hours which you get each day. It always pays off.
[A FINAL THING WHICH MATTERS THE MOST
**]Work matters the most.
Yes, you can undoubtedly make your work better. Yet, in the end it boils down to one thing – how much effort you put in.
To be honest, one truth which even you might be aware of is that you cannot always control outcomes. Though, you can always rely on your efforts. Once you master your efforts, the outcomes favor you as well.
So the basic rule to better outcomes is still old and boring – the more you focus on improving your work, the better the outcomes will be.
You’ve learned some important lessons about how you can get things done and gain better outcomes out of your hard work.
But I wish to share something with you which more important than any of the above mentioned tips.
Work is just a part of your life, not life itself. Although you can be quite serious about it, mind your health and peace of mind – they matter as much as your work does. Perhaps, even more.
Take time out to do the activities which cheer you up. Spend time with your family. Make the most out of every second life gives you by being happy.
Forget about work in the moments when you’re free and find more reasons to be happy – even when you’re busy.
If you think you don’t have enough time because you’re a busy person, you can still be as happy as others are by appreciating the little things in life. They’re what make life beautiful.
I’m Vishal Ostwal.
A writer, blogger and the kind of person whose name rhymes with his surname. On the internet, I’m a guy who writes about making life worth living. Apart from that, I’m a dreamer and storyteller who can talk about life tirelessly.
I’m from Udaipur, which is also called the Venice of east, and live in Aurangabad, India.
Writing is something I do to create more smiles in this world, and for my happiness and peace of mind. It’s lovely to see how words can help others. This inspires me to work harder.
Thank you for reading this book,
May you be blessed with the best,
This isn’t the end.
I hope to see you on my blog where you can stay updated with my latest work. I really look forward to connecting with you.
**]If you need my help in any way then feel free to contact me via: . I hope this book helped you.
For accessing the additional free resources, finding my book recommendations, and reading my best articles, visit: .
See you there.
May you be blessed with the best.
We’re all working – each day, relentlessly and without fail. We run busy amid frantic chaos, try to finish our work before deadlines and make attempts to get everything done. We stay up late, sweat on things that we don’t know much about, and in the end of the day we tire ourselves to sleep with a slight satisfaction of accomplishment in our hearts. But are we really creating some value with our work or are we just…working? A truth you might be already aware of is that mere working won’t give you results. Although you can do as much as you can and put all your might into your work, it isn’t your actual goal. Even if you work more than usual and almost end up killing yourself, your success isn’t guaranteed. There are several other aspects to what we plainly call work, which often go unnoticed. There’s one universal thing which plays a crucial role in all arenas of work, regardless of what the work is and what its purpose is. That one thing which defines what you’ll get from what you do is - productivity. Pocket Productivity is simple guide which will help you give your efforts a direction. It contains some easy yet effective ways which you can implement in your work and life to be more productive and to get better outcomes. This lightweight book will be there to rescue you whenever you feel unmotivated and need to evolve better ways to improve your skills. Flip through it's pages whenever needed and you'll find something which might help you instantly.