You know, people have been giving productivity advice for ages. People have published so many books which outline tips on how to increase productivity. This article is going to take a different approach. I am going to show you how to be productive using psychological insights. Not copying the habits of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or any other successful person. With these insights, you can build a system to increase productivity that works for YOU.
The problem with looking at the habits of the most productive people is that it is fundamentally flawed to look at them. I am talking about the survivorship bias. For a few people who are successful by developing productive habits, many are unsuccessful in spite of using the same habits. Very few survive and tell their success story. But the failure stories often have the same habits and productivity insights. So it isn’t useful to blindly copy the habits of productive people. You can read more about the survivorship bias here.
Take a deep breath.
How to be productive: Fundamentals, Tips, Examples
Back to using psychology to improve productivity. We are going to look at some fundamental insights that will help you design a life conducive to productivity. These productivity tips are not aimed at making you successful overnight. All those books and articles which say ‘These tips will make you a millionaire or the next Einstein or Jobs’ are a lie. A blatant cold-hearted lie.
Oh, and if you think you can copy the habits of productive people and wait for them to increase your productivity, you are chasing a wild goose.
We are going to talk about using the fundamentals of productive outputs to your advantage. We are going to draw insights from all relevant areas – psychology, neuroscience, economics, etc. to answer the question – how to increase productivity – for real. As the author, my goal is to give you what you have come looking for.
Ok. So, this article will have 2 sections. Section one will look at some fundamental factors, habits, and attitudes you will need to address. Section two is about specialized actionable tips to increase productivity. (You can print those out and paste them on your wall along with the infographic- your cheat sheet).
Note: This article is huge & detailed. Over 4500 words with a razor-sharp focus on how to increase productivity. I urge you to take some time out and go through this article in one go. If you are short on time, go through the index, the infographic, and section 2. But, I guarantee that it won’t be enough. You can print or copy the infographic and section 2 to later remind yourself what you need to do to increase productivity in the long run.
Section 1: The fundamental factors that affect productivity
Remember I mentioned that following the habits of productive people is pointless because of the survivorship bias? We are going to circumvent that. We will work ground up with respect to YOU. You can figure out your ‘design’ by looking at these factors and implementing them appropriately.
Depression has become the leading cause of disability. Depression has the following characteristics – inaccurate evaluation of the self, the world, and the events that take place; lack of motivation; lack of energy to do something. Depression hits hard and can cripple you before you know it.
It’s not surprising that depression leads to lowered productivity. But that is not it.
Obsessive-compulsive disorders & impulse control disorders can also take a huge toll on your productivity because you can be preoccupied with certain thoughts and spend an inordinate amount of time on doing something about those thoughts. For example, if you have obsessive thoughts about revenge and you engage in behaviors to counteract those thoughts, you’ll just be wasting time.
Anxiety can lower your productivity even further. For starters, anxious thoughts can intrude and break the chain of thoughts you have while working. It can transport you to a different and unpleasant world. Anxiety also makes people extremely self-critical which leads to work that remains forever incomplete. People suffering from anxiety often judge their work too harshly and believe it is sub-par which itself becomes a hurdle for completion. Sometimes, anxiety makes you judge the yet-to-happen output poorly and that kills productivity before the work even begins.