This is currently the 23rd article I’ve written in the past seven hours, because when you’re on a flight from Newark to Hong Kong, there’s not much else to do. But that’s exactly why I’m flying to Hong Kong. My “zone of focus” is on an airplane, and I don’t worry about my writing assignments piling up, because I know that as long as I have a plane trip in my near future, they’ll all get done.
That’s one (although the strangest of them all) of the ways I get more things done each day than the average person. Read on for ways you can get more done, without having to spring for a business class ticket to Asia.
Stop thinking of time as “time,” and start thinking of time as “priorities.”
The #1 way to boost your productivity and add hours to your day is to think of time as a constant – i.e., I have the same number of hours in my day as you, you have the same number of hours as Beyonce, and she has the same number of hours as a farmer in Thailand. What matters is not the amount of hours we have, but the priority to which we assign those hours. For example, I know that without the dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline boost that comes with working out first thing in the morning, I’m nowhere near my best during my day, so I prioritize getting up each morning at 3:45am to make sure that I my morning starts with working out. To do that, I reprioritize something less important, like going out at night, or staying up late. In short, the second we start thinking about priorities, as opposed to hours in the day, we become much clearer in terms of how we can get what we want.
Study after study have shown that exercising (especially early in the morning) gives your brain a hit of dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline, the three “happy and focus” chemicals that our bodies crave when we have shit to do, and no desire to do it. As little as 20 minutes of exercise per day can boost the chemicals in your brain to higher levels, giving you more focus, productivity, and drive to get more done each day.
Resolutions fail. Rituals succeed.
A ritual focuses on the act of doing it – i.e, “I’m going to go to the gym today.” And then the next day, “I’m going to go to the gym today.” That’s a lot easier to stick to than “I’m going to lose 30 pounds.” By day three, you haven’t lost 30 pounds yet, and you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s the elephant analogy: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Set up rituals for yourself. “I’m going to find a quiet place outside my office and write for thirty minutes today.” Each day. Pretty soon, it’s part of who you are.
There’s a reason I only wear either a t-shirt and jeans, or a button-down shirt and jeans. The less I have to think about the mundane tasks of life, the more I can think about the things in my life that matter, and work towards improving them. The more choices you can eliminate from your life, the better off you’ll be.
It’s surprisingly easy to do more each day. It’s not exhausting, and it’s easy to implement, and even easier to stick with. The goal is simply to start.
Remember the old adage: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.