Tim Ferriss wrote in his book The Four Hour Body about an occasion where a group of people were assembled on Richard Branson’s private island to brainstorm growth options for Branson’s Virgin Unite project. Branson was posed with the question, “How do you become more productive?”

Branson leaned back and thought for a second. Then he said, “Work out.”

He said that working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time every day.

Benefits of Exercise

We are all familiar with the multitude of benefits that exercise can bring into our lives. Regular exercise can control weight gain, improve health, prevent illness, improve mood and reduce sleep problems. Doctors also say it leads to a better sex life. Need I go on?

But Branson has reminded us of a further benefit: Working out can assist us to become more productive. It increases our energy levels, reduces stress and improves stamina (and not just in the board room). But if you are already working out regularly what else can you do to become super-productive this year?

Vision

Having a clear vision for the future is a strong motivator when it comes to getting things done. If you have a plan, have set goals and know what you are working towards, it is easier to know what your priorities are and what you should be working on daily. One of the biggest problems when it comes to productivity is not that people don’t work hard enough but that they spend too much time working on the wrong things. Having a vision can reduce the chances of this occurring.

Awareness

Leadership expert Robin Sharma says:

“Better awareness leads to better decisions, which leads to better results”

Knowing where you are now, how you currently work and how you currently spend your time can help you to make informed decisions about which tasks can be eliminated and which tasks you need to focus more on. When you know what you want to achieve and you understand how you time is best spent, the next step is to have a system.

Systems

What’s a system? Most of you who hang around Lifehack know what a productivity system is. David Allen has dominated the space with GTD (Getting Things Done).

But systems are not just about organizing your work.

Having a system for organizing your clothes, your life and your dinners all assist in making life easier and reducing stress. Minimalism has become a fashionable system of late. So instead of trying to organize your life, why not simplify it? Eliminate all that is unnecessary and your life will be simpler and easier to organize.

Technology

Technology has become an enormous benefit to productivity. It can help us to do our work more quickly and efficiently most of the time. But we must choose our programs wisely.

Firstly, we need to understand our personal requirements and then spend time understanding the programs we have chosen to help us. Spending time familiarizing yourself with your new programs can end up being a time waster, so choosing wisely is crucial. Technology is a great benefit — but can also be a huge distraction and a challenge to focus.

Eliminate Distractions

Social Media. It’s fun,  and can be beneficial for marketing and networking. But it could also be described as “public enemy number one” when it come to productivity.

Far too easily we get sucked into the flirtatious 140 characters, the unmissable articles that would prevent us from living a fulfilled life if they were to remain unread, the friends that can’t live without knowing what we did on Saturday night. We must take control and decide how much time we are going to spend on social media and then stick with it. The world won’t end if you resist to digg, stumble, tweet or post for a couple of hours each day. Turn off all message notifications — including email alerts — on both your phone and your computer. Remember to stay at the helm and not allow the waves to take control of where you go.

Conclusion

All of these tips can assist you in becoming more productive, happier and more successful, but remember it’s not sustainable to try too much at once.

So, if you were to change one habit this month then maybe it should be to work out more. The abundant benefits are undeniable — and if Sir Richard Branson does it…well, what more can I say?

(Photo credit: Jet Climbs After Taking Off via Shutterstock)

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