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5 Ways To Create A Powerfully Productive Mind

5 Ways To Create A Powerfully Productive Mind

How often do you feel busy, but feeling as if you’re not actually getting anything done?

Days go by and you feel consistently overwhelmed with so many things on your plate, but you don’t actually make any real progress on anything meaningful.

Then we look around and wonder how so many others we look up to seem to get so much more accomplished…

Unfortunately for us, we live in the most distracting era in all of human history. While there are a ton of tools, apps and notebooks to help us prioritize and schedule our tasks, our mind only has limited processing power. When too many things are going in, it gets bogged down and our focus will constantly be switching all over the place. This leads to that wonderfully frustrating feeling that is procrastination.

A mind that is overwhelmed cannot effectively take anything new on. Creating a powerful mind capable of focus and productivity starts with taking back control of everything entering it.

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Here are 5 tactics I’ve used and shared with many others that you can implement to dramatically boost your minds ability to focus and fend off procrastination

1. Control your Physical Clutter

How does your environment look around you? Is it organized or chaotic with items scattered all over your desk or bedroom? Our physical worlds tend to be a reflection of our mental worlds. You may wonder how this matters in being more productive, but a messy physical world actually draws energy from our mind. Energy and focus we could be using towards more meaningful things… If our room is a mess or the kitchen needs to be tidied, every-time we see this it will draw energy as we’re reminded of what we need to do. An excellent resource on this, is Marie Kondos book on “The Magic of Tidying Up.”

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs in order too.” – Marie Kondo

The more minimalist of a life we can practice the more productive space we can create in our mind. Going through old items and clothes and removing them (I recommend donating clothes) can make you feel like you lost 10 pounds of mental load. Steve Jobs actually wore the same outfit each day so he didn’t have to exert any energy thinking about it and could instead focus on the tasks of the day ahead. This is an extreme example, but it emphasizes the power of this…

2. Control your Virtual Clutter

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virtual clutter

    How many notifications are on your phone right now? Better yet, how many unread emails are in your inbox? A few years back I reached a point where I had several thousand unread emails in my inbox. It was to the point where even just opening my inbox made me instantly feel overwhelmed. Much like physical clutter, virtual clutter is a VERY real thing and can cause us to expend tons of unnecessary energy each day.

    What can we do about it?

    Unsubscribe to emails you don’t find any value in, ask to be taken off email chains that you don’t need to directly respond too and really decrease the amount of email coming in. Once done, I highly recommend practicing inbox zero to really optimize your time spent there. Social media can also be a huge energy drainer with the amount of negativity that seems to be rampant on it recently. Clean it up just like your email. Be relentless, your mental energy and state is yours to protect. Un-follow people who post things that you find are taking you find are negatively impacting your mindset.

    The more of this energy we take back the more we can use it towards important things.

    3. Become unafraid of saying NO

    If you find yourself in the state we described above, of constantly feeling overwhelmed and busy you should probably be saying no more often then you say yes. Think about it, if we are already procrastinating and behind on things, how will saying yes to taking on more items or event invitations possibly make that any better? Many people (including myself at a time) are afraid to say no to people, don’t be.

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    Darren Hardy, former publisher of success magazine tells a story of a company trying to bring on Richard Branson as a speaker. They called three times to Bransons assistant, offering more money with each call, but each time the assistant did not pass on the message. Why? Branson was locked into his 3 current strategic objectives he was working on, and speaking was not one of them. He had specifically instructed to say NO to anything note related to those 3 objectives.

    While I believe we should always make time for important events but it is only by saying no that we can truly control our energy, focus and time.

    4. You lack a defined schedule

    Schedule-small

      One of the bluntest pieces of productivity advice I ever received was the following. “If it’s not on your schedule, it does not exist.” When we try to accomplish things without setting aside planned time to do them usually one of two things happen. 1. It never gets done. 2. It gets done bit by bit taking far longer than we wanted. We need to create non-negotiable scheduled time to complete the important tasks we need to get done to reach our goals. Point #3 above becomes important when people ask you to do things during this time.

      Think about someone who wants to get into better shape. If they simply just try to “fit in a workout when they’re free”, we know will probably never or very rarely see this person in the gym.  We need to plan the time when we will workout and ideally have it at the same time each week. Being productive toward your business, career, or almost any goal should be handled the same way.

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      5. Upgrade your lifestyle

      In order to help create a powerfully productive mind, we need to build a lifestyle that creates energy to be our best self. If you are frequently tired and without energy you may need to look at your daily habits. Don’t neglect your sleep, your nutrition or your fitness. Treat and care for your mind and body like a Rolls Royce and they will give you the energy you need to get more done, battle procrastination and get you exactly where you want to go in life. My own life changed dramatically when I emphasized all of the above, having more energy in my 30’s then I did in my early 20’s.

      Our billionaire friend, Richard Branson also agrees and says how he finds working out each day gives him 4 extra hours of productivity. 

      Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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      The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

      The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

      It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

      Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

      “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

      In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

      New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

      There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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      So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

      What is the productivity paradox?

      There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

      In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

      He wrote in his conclusion:

      “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

      Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

      How do we measure productivity anyway?

      And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

      In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

      But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

      In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

      But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

      Possible causes of the productivity paradox

      Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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      • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
      • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
      • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
      • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

      There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

      According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

      Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

      The paradox and the recession

      The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

      “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

      This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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      According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

      Looking forward

      A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

      “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

      Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

      “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

      On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

      Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

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