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How to Supercharge your Productivity the Richard Branson Way

How to Supercharge your Productivity the Richard Branson Way

    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.

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    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:

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    “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.

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    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.

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    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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    How to Fight Information Overload

    How to Fight Information Overload

    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

    1. Set your goals.
    2. Decide whether you really need the information.
    3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
    4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    The Nature of the Problem

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

    Why information overload is bad

    It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

    1. Set your goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. What to do when facing new information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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    If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

    And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

    3. Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

    4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    In Closing

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

    Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

    (Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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