1. The Willpower trinity – Resist, Replace, Remember!

Stanford Professor Kelly McGonigal says the key to hitting goals is understanding the three powers of willpower: I will power, I won’t power, and I want power.

  • I “won’t power” is resisting temptation, such as saying “no” to social media.
  • I “will power” is to choose an alternate behaviour — sending a social, but networking email.
  • I “want power” is remembering your why, your goal, be it expanding your career, business or profits.

Willpower is like a muscle. When we fail to reach goals, it’s due to solely relying on I won’t power, but  we can only say “no” so many times before we crumble. However, bringing in backup, and using all three aspects of willpower, will triple the likelihood of success. Resist, replace, remember.

productivity

  1. Reverse engineering

Most commonly applied to industrial machinery and computer software, reverse engineering can be applied to different fields, products, and strategies.

It is disassembling and analysing the components that make up the whole. Efficiency comes not only with seeing how parts relate, but being able to work on aspects out of order. Author Tim Ferriss notes his rapid mastering of the tango through deconstructing the dance, and learning the female role along with the male. Expert linguists do the same, breaking a language into pieces and having a bird’s-eye view of the most common grammatical structures.

  1. Power poses

If it weren’t true, it’d be preposterous to think simply changing your posture affects productivity. Professor Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk highlights the psychosomatic and neurological responses caused by our posture. Taking a high-power pose causes an increase in testosterone (confidence, assertiveness, energy) and a decrease in cortisol (stress, anxiety, nervousness). A confident, testosterone-perked person is much more productive than a cortisol-crippled person.

Our brain is wired to respond to certain physiologies. A forced smile will still release endorphins. Pulling yourself out of a figurative slump is as simple as pulling yourself out of a physical slump.

  1. 52 on, 17 off

The entrepreneurial hustle makes breaks non-existent. Recent studies show only one-in-five employees take lunch breaks, despite clear cognitive benefits for our fatigued brains.

So, what’s the perfect work/rest ratio? The Desk Time App played Big Brother, by monitoring employees’ computer use. They found the most productive 10 percent worked hard for 52 minutes, then took a break for 17. It’s backed by scientists, pointing to the natural rhythms of our attention span. Our brain can focus for up to 90 minutes, then needs roughly 20 minutes of rest. Strategic breaks equal efficient work.

  1. Validated progress

A good warning from author Eric Ries: “If we’re building the wrong product really efficiently, it’s like we’re driving our car off a cliff and bragging about our awesome gas mileage.”

Along the same stream is the Sharpe’s ratio of risk/return measures in finance, and the “minimum viable product” in the tech world. The strategy is about being deliberate and conscious in our efforts, with a flexible, rather than fixed process and goal. It’s being productive and ready to pivot, rather than simply charging full-steam ahead.

A case-in-point is Nick Swinmurn’s start-up of Zappos. He validated his idea without blowing cash by first going to a shoe store, taking photos and posting them online. When sales came in, he went and bought the shoes. He didn’t need to pivot, just persevere.

We have been able to identify some of the ways in which you can increase your productivity, and adopt it to your day-to-day activities. Was this helpful? Share your opinion in the comment section.