Business, Career, Education, Health/Life

How to be productive: 20 psychology strategies to get you on track

how to be productive (1)

Outlines how to be productive, with 20 strategies based on simple psychology that will get you on track quickly and make the most of your day.

Imagine if you could be productive anytime you want. You don’t have to fight with yourself because you don’t feel like it. You no longer have to walk around with a guilty conscience because you’ve postponed the task again.

Find more career guides, tips and advice

Hey, wouldn’t it be great to be able to carry out a task in a concentrated and focused manner! At home or at work. Without all that stress with yourself. Then you would be quite a machine.

The following 20 methods should help you with this. But be careful: These 20 methods in total are a lot of effort. So it’s best to first choose only one of these 20 methods. If you only use one method, you will be able to increase your productivity with it. And then looks at adding some of the other methods. Just try out for yourself what is best for you — and in what order.

How to be productive: 20 strategies

1: How to be productive and get in a good mood at the same time

Increase your productivity and get in a good mood at the same time? That sounds too good to be true at first … You can achieve this increase in productivity with a relatively simple strategy.

Different studies have shown: the better you feel, the greater your productivity. Your performance increases with a good mood. In the said studies, salespeople, students and doctors were deliberately put in a positive mood. And it came out:

  • Sellers sold much better
  • Doctors made the correct diagnosis faster,
  • Students did much better in tests,

if they have been put in a good mood beforehand. Putting yourself into a positive mood can massively increase your productivity. So what can you do to get yourself in a good mood within 2 minutes?

Option 1: Write down 3 things that you are grateful for

Writing down what you are grateful for shifts your perspective on the positive things in your life and has been shown to make you happier.

How does that work exactly?

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen.
  2. Think of 3 things you are grateful for and write them down.
  3. Do this every day and think about 3 new things every day.

Option 2: Keep a diary of a positive experience from the past 24 hours

If you keep a diary about beautiful experiences, then your brain relives this experience for the moment. This releases positive messenger substances in your brain and makes you feel good.

How does that work exactly?

  1. Take a piece of paper and pen or open your writing program on your computer.
  2. Think of a positive experience you had in the past 24 hours.
    For example
    – a task that you completed successfully
    – something that worked
    – a nice feedback that you have received …
  3. Write about it for at least 2 minutes.

Option 3: smile in your stomach

With this exercise you can immediately positively influence your mood without preparation or other effort.

  1. Make sure you are undisturbed for five minutes.
  2. Sit down comfortably, for example in a nice armchair or simply on a comfortable chair.
  3. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply in and out three or four times, until you are a little calmer than before.
  4. Then imagine that there is a very small, barely visible smile in your stomach that is simply smiling to itself.
  5. Now imagine that this smile is slowly getting bigger. At exactly the speed that is right for you.
  6. And the smile gets bigger and bigger, slowly filling your entire stomach. At exactly the right pace for you.
  7. When the smile in your stomach is big enough, just pause and enjoy this feeling until you’ve had enough of it. Maybe a minute, maybe five minutes. Just as long as it suits you.
  8. Now open your eyes and go into the rest of the day with more inner peace and a nice feeling.

2: How to be productiveregain control of your time

Do you also know that feeling that you don’t hit your to-do list? That three new ones are added with every completed to-do? The constant feeling of not being able to do enough and always having to work against it is a huge drag on your productivity.

Because you’re always lagging behind. You feel guilty all the time. And that is totally demotivating. We now know that a good mood increases your productivity massively. That’s why it’s important to regain control of your to-dos and schedule. According to research, this is not only the best prophylaxis against burnout, it also improves your productivity.

The basic problem is that we usually don’t estimate how much time a task will actually take. Rather, we think we could cross at least 7 points from the list today … Which is partially completely unrealistic.

This is a systematic mistake that many people make. You shouldn’t make this mistake from now on. Because it leads you again and again into the spiral of unrealistic expectations and the chronic feeling of lagging behind.

The solution is to determine the time required for each task from now on. And then to give the tasks specific time windows.

So give your to-dos and tasks fixed appointments with times in your calendar to regain control. So you can assess your productivity very precisely and plan your day realistically. Another advantage of this approach: It means that you procrastinate much less.

How does it work?

  1. Get a note and pen and write a to-do list for today. Or get yourself a calendar with enough space to write down your daily to-dos.
  2. What tasks on your list would you like to do today?
  3. How much time do you budget for each of these tasks?
  4. Set a time for when you want to quit today.
  5. Plan your day backwards from this time.
  6. Schedule your tasks at the times when you can do them best.
  7. Double check how realistic your time estimates are. Can you really do this job in this time? Do all of these tasks really fit in one day?
  8. In the future, only plan your to-dos directly in the calendar. Give them fixed dates. And stop writing to-do lists.

With this approach you will gain a much more realistic overview of your day and your options today. Get down to your chores and stick to your schedule. Try as best you can to keep all other distractions, inquiries, and tasks away from you. In this way you protect your productivity and work highly efficiently.

3: reduce your stress – clarify your priorities

A list of full tasks causes stress for most people at first. At the same time, many people have a tendency to avoid unpleasant tasks. And postpone the tasks that are actually most important.

That can mean that you can throw away a lot during the day … but the most important task remains unfinished. And then you still feel stressed at the end of the day . Or you have the feeling that you haven’t made any progress. Because you haven’t reached your real goal yet.

Productivity means using your time efficiently. But you only feel really productive if you also tackle your important tasks. If you want to increase your perceived productivity, you have to tackle the big chunks as well. Therefore it is of fundamental importance that you clarify your priorities anew every day.

You need to know your most important goal for today every day. You are only really productive if you know your most important goal and work on it.

How does it work? How can you clarify your priorities?

  1. Write down your to-do list for today.
  2. Pick your 3 most important goals for today from the list.
  3. If you want to find out what the 3 most important things are for you, ask yourself: Which of these items on my to-do list would, if done, make all the others easier or even superfluous?
  4. Rank the 3 most important goals.
  5. Always do the most important thing first of the day.
  6. You write down all other tasks that did not make it into the top 3 on a “not-to-do” list. This is a list of the things that you consciously chose not to do today. Also write about why you decided against it. Then this task is out of your head. And from now on you have a list where you can collect all these tasks in one place. So you are not lost.

4: How to be productiveSave time for what is really important by saying no

“People think to focus is just saying ‘yes’ to that one thing that you want to focus on. But that’s not true. Rather, it means saying ‘no’. No to the other hundred great ideas that are there. You have to choose wisely. […] Innovation means saying no to a thousand things. “

– Steve Jobs

You now know your priorities for today. Even so, you don’t always manage to focus 100% on it. Suddenly an urgent mail arrives. Or a colleague asks you for help. And you lose time on your real priority.

If you want to do the work that is important to you, you have to say no to most other things. Or work until 10 p.m. … Which is not a good alternative for most of us. Saying no, however, requires you to be tough. Because saying “no” is not that easy.

But if you want to do a really great job, then you should focus on your priorities whenever possible. And do these things really well for it. You have to say no to everything else. And protect your productivity time.

How does it work? 

Ways to say “no” in a nice way:

  1. First ask you to think about it. Most of the time, you don’t have to answer right away. You can postpone the decision and come back to it later.
  2. Justify the no. If you give a good reason for saying no, it will make it easier for the other person to accept it.
  3. Make a counter offer. It is also possible to make a counter-proposal, that is, perhaps to come up with a different idea of ​​how the person can resolve his or her concern. You show that you care about the other person. At the same time, however, you also make it clear that you are not available.

5: How to be productive by using the first few hours of the day

When we have completed an important task, we are usually satisfied with ourselves. Then the rest of the day usually slips away. But if it doesn’t work, then we are dissatisfied. Most of the time, you are at your best in the first few hours of your day. So this is the best time for you to be productive too.

Therefore, you should treat at least the first two hours of your day like a sacred time. Always keep it free for your priority number 1. Because this is the time when you can be most productive and work on your most important priority.

In return, that also means: Never check your e-mails for the first few hours of your day. Do not use social media. Don’t read messages. “Clutter” your head with as few other things as possible.

How does it work?

  1. If possible, stay “offline” for the first 2 hours of your day.
  2. In principle, keep this block of time free from meetings, appointments and other obligations.
  3. Use this time to work at full capacity on your most important task at the moment.

6: Never waste too much time on a task again. How to perform your tasks efficiently

Sometimes tasks take a lot longer than you think. But you want to do it well. That’s why there is no alternative for you than to put your work in there now. Perfectionism is one of the greatest productivity killers. Because you are a perfectionist spend a lot of time so that everything is right down to the last detail.

The final details are often what matter the least, but what takes up the most time. As seen from the 80:20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. The 80 to 20 rule states that 80% of the results can be achieved with 20% of the total effort. This rule was discovered by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and it can be applied to different areas. For example:

  • 80% of a company’s turnover is achieved by 20% of its products.
  • 80% of the complaints come from 20% of the customers.
  • 80% of your stress is caused by 20% of your tasks.

For you this means: You will achieve 80% of the desired result with 20% of your time. In a very specific example: If you work 8 hours a day, you will achieve 80% of your results in about 1.5 hours. You use the other 6.5 hours to get the last 20% out. And as a perfectionist , this ratio is possibly even more blatant.

It’s not particularly efficient. As a perfectionist in particular, you can become much more productive if you don’t do everything perfectly down to the last detail, but rather lower your expectations of yourself a little and aim for the 80% rather than the 100%.

Of course, this does not apply if you are repairing aircraft 😉Or do other work that requires maximum accuracy. But according to this rule it is valid for 80% of the tasks. Take this 80:20 rule to heart. This allows you to use your productivity much more efficiently.

How does it work?

  1. Take a look at your priority list for today.
  2. Get a piece of paper and pen or open your computer program.
  3. Answer the following question in writing: What is the 20% that I have to do for this task so that it is 80% done?
  4. Focus only on these most important 20%.
  5. Keep asking yourself this question as soon as you start a new task.

7: How to really get the urge to start, simply by eliminating your excessive demands

Perhaps you often feel like this: Once you get into the task, everything is easy. Then it works. But getting started is a big problem! It takes a lot of effort for you. And that has the consequence that you postpone unpleasant tasks until it no longer works.

It’s super exhausting when you have to constantly struggle with yourself to tackle the task. This robs you of an infinite amount of energy and destroys your productivity.

But we’re not machines. Often times we just don’t feel like starting. Rather, we prefer to distract us with the Internet or television … 😉 In the vast majority of cases this is an expression of excessive demands:

The task feels very big. You don’t know if you can do it. It will definitely be really exhausting. And it’s not fun. So it’s understandable that you’d rather avoid that. But there is a solution for that. A solution to end your inner struggles with yourself once and for all.

The solution is: remove the excessive demands. It is the excessive demands that paralyze you. And blocks your productivity. If a task feels easy and “out of the question” then it is very easy for you to get started. An example:

“I have to finish the report by next week.”

Uh … That sounds like a task that each of us likes to put off. It consists of many steps. She is tall. It sounds overwhelming.

“I have to read the last two pages of the conclusion from the report.”

Sounds easier. Is clear. Is a task that you can do. Something that doesn’t scare you off that much. It’s actually very simple, and yet many of us get it wrong every day … The secret is: Define your tasks as clearly and in small steps as possible. Then you’ll never have a problem getting started again. And your productivity won’t be blocked.

How does it work?

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen. Or open your writing program on the computer.
  2. Take a minute and answer the question yourself: What exactly has to be done to complete my task? (Examples: make an appointment, read the report, write a summary, answer the email, etc.)
  3. Look at your list and answer the question: Which subtask do I want to tackle first? (For example: make an appointment)
  4. Now break down your sub-task into mini-steps that will take you less than 5 minutes. The mini-steps must be clearly and clearly defined. (For example: I look for the phone number. I briefly check my calendar for possible appointments. I call. …)
  5. If you want to stop being overwhelmed, then pick one of these little mini-steps that you could do right away without being difficult.
  6. Do this mini-step right away.
  7. Then ask yourself: Do I want to take one more mini-step, yes or no?
  8. If you decide “Yes”: Jump back to step 5 and choose a new mini-step.
  9. If you decide “No”: Be happy that you have now taken a small step instead of procrastinating. And pat yourself on the shoulder for it.

8: How to be productiveGet into the flow by creating a challenge

” Flow ” describes the exhilarating feeling of a mental state of complete immersion and complete absorption in an activity that seems to go on by itself – in German something like a frenzy of creativity or activity or a desire to function . “

– Definition of “flow” according to Wikipedia

The “flow” is such an optimal state in terms of your productivity. When you’re in the flow, things are easy for you. An important factor in getting into a flow state is the difficulty of the task.

If the task is too easy, you will be bored. If it is too heavy, it will overwhelm you. The perfect task has a medium level of difficulty. That means you can handle it, but it is already challenging you.

So if you want to use the flow effect for yourself in order to achieve maximum productivity, then make sure that your task has a medium level of difficulty as possible.

How does it work?

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen. Or open your writing program on the computer.
  2. Rate your upcoming task on a scale from 1 (extremely easy) to 10 (extremely difficult).
  3. Think about how you can bring your task into the difficulty range between 4 and 7.
  4. If your task is too easy, how can you make it harder for yourself? How can you turn this into a challenge? (For example: set yourself a time limit and make a competition, make it a game, make it extra thorough, make it artificially harder for yourself)
  5. If your task is too difficult: Break it down into individual steps. Until the subtask is in the difficulty range between 4 and 7.
  6. As soon as the task is in the medium difficulty range of 4 to 7, get started!

9: How to be productiveMake big strides by monotasking

The absolute secret recipe for increasing your productivity is: focus. The longer you can work on a task undisturbed and in one piece, the more productive you are. But in times of constantly jingling smartphones and the availability of beautiful distractions 24/7, focusing has become an extreme challenge for many of us.

It’s always easier to do another quick check on your email or the latest news rather than starting the next difficult task. The solution to this problem is: monotasking or singletasking. Monotasking is the opposite of multitasking and means: concentrate fully on just one single task. Eliminate all other distractions.

How does it work?

  1. Turn off your smartphone.
  2. If you are constantly disturbed from the outside, set yourself apart. Put on headphones and listen to “White Noise” or “Coffitivity” (see also tip 14). Put a sign in front of you that says “Please do not disturb until X o’clock”.
  3. If you like to surf the Internet to distract yourself, turn off the Internet for a defined period of time.
  4. Put down a piece of paper and pen so you can write down any thoughts that pop into your head. So you don’t forget anything. And so you no longer have to think about it and have your head free for your task.

10: How to be productiveget into the task with ‘only 5 minutes’

If breaking down the task into smaller subtasks (see tip 7) has not helped you, then this tip will definitely help you. This is a tip for people who like to decide for themselves when to do something.

It is often the case that you just don’t feel like starting the task. But as soon as you are inside, it works. So the faster you get into a task, the less energy you spend trying to convince yourself. The higher your productivity is then. So your goal should be to get started with a task as quickly as possible.

How does it work?

  1. Get an alarm clock, a stopwatch, or your cell phone.
  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off any distractions for the next 5 minutes.
  4. Start the timer.
  5. Start the task immediately. Only for 5 minutes.
  6. When the 5 minutes are up, stop immediately.
  7. Take a short break and take three deep breaths in and out.
  8. Ask yourself: Do I feel like working on this task for another 5 minutes? Answer honestly without putting yourself under any pressure.
  9. If not: OK, then really stop now and do something else. It is very important that at this point you really give yourself the freedom to say “no” if you feel like it. Only then does this technique work. If you put pressure on yourself to keep going, this technique won’t work.
  10. If yes: go back to step 2. Start the next 5 minutes.

11: How to get your head in the work mood and get it back into after-work mode

On Friday afternoons you are likely to be very rarely in a work mood. At least you wouldn’t start a big new project there. On the other hand, on Tuesday mornings you are likely to be bursting with creativity by comparison. At least if you have a “normal” work week.

The timing determines your willingness and desire to work. It’s a matter of the head. On Friday afternoons you feel like you’re already on the weekend. The working week really starts on Tuesdays. If you want to be productive, you need more of the “Tuesday mood”. So how do you manage to flip that “switch” and become productive?

Entry rituals can help. Such entry rituals will help you get yourself into the right mode. Entry rituals are like a start signal for the head. They signal to you “All right, get to work”.

Each of us has such initial rituals. In other words, certain things that we keep doing and that tell our heads: we’re about to start. Maybe just unconsciously. But your entry-level rituals will help you flip the switch and become productive.

How does it work?

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen. Or open your writing program on the computer.
  2. Answer the question in writing: What could initial rituals be for me? (Example: Stand in front of a mirror and say to yourself several times: Now I’ll tackle it, breathe deeply in and out 10 times, put on headphones and throw on “white noise”, tell you a mantra …)
  3. Then answer the question in writing: What am I currently doing to get in a work mood, or which introductory rituals am I possibly already using at the moment?
  4. Look at all of your answers. Use one of these introductory rituals right now to get you in the work mood.

The more often you use a certain entry ritual, the more firmly it is linked in your head to the start of the work mode. A fixed entry ritual ensures repeatability and enables you to flip the switch in your head in a very simple way.

By the way, you can use exactly the same principle to get into after-work mode. With the help of exit rituals with which you end working hours.

12. How to be productive clear your head for the task ahead

Sometimes your productivity is also disrupted because you simply do not have a clear head. You may be plagued by worry. Or you are still thinking about yesterday In such a situation it is very important that you clear your mind. Otherwise you won’t be able to be productive. Instead, you’re always somewhere else in your mind. There are different ways to clear your mind. One of them is the “braindump”.

How does it work?

  1. Make sure that you are undisturbed for the next 5 minutes.
  2. Take a piece of paper and a pen. Or open your writing program on the computer.
  3. Get an alarm clock, a stopwatch, or your cell phone.
  4. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  5. Start the timer.
  6. Now write a list of additions to the following sentence for 5 minutes: I just can’t get it out of my head that …
  7. Write down everything you can think of. Until your timer rings.
  8. Look at your list. Look specifically for all the answers that are about things you can’t do anything about yet.
  9. Cross all of these answers off your list.
  10. Look at your list again. Look specifically for all the answers that are about things that you cannot influence.
  11. Cross all of these answers off your list.
  12. Copy all the other answers onto a new piece of paper. Now you have collected all the points where you can do something and at a glance. And now they’re out of your head for now.

13: How to be productiveComplete your task on time thanks to deadlines

“Work expands to the extent that time is available to do it.”

This is one of the so-called Parkinson’s laws. You may know that about yourself too. If something urgently needs to be done by tomorrow, then you can do it. With a lot of bending and breaking. But you can do it.

Even though the same task usually takes you a lot more time. Under pressure, you grow beyond yourself. If the “gentle techniques” don’t help you any more, sometimes only pressure helps.

However, this is not a fun method. It is very stressful. And that’s why it should only be an emergency solution and not a permanent solution. Pressure comes from appointments and deadlines. You can easily create this kind of pressure yourself.

How does it work?

  1. Check your calendar. Set your own deadline for your task. A deadline that:
    – is realistically feasible.
    – forces you to get started now.
    – is a few days before the real deadline. So you have a head start.
  2. Make sure you take your deadline seriously. For example, by:
    – making your deadline public. So tell your partner or colleague about it.
    – make a bet with someone.
    – associate a punishment with it (see also tip 19).
  3. And now get started. Get down to work.

14: How to be productiveSupport your productivity with small, helpful apps

There are tons of small, helpful apps out there to aid your productivity. We find the following 3 particularly helpful:

  1. Pomodoro timer. Pomodoro timers are apps for using the so-called Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that divides work into 25-minute sections and 5-minute breaks. These frequent short breaks help keep you mentally fit and productive. You can stop the time with such an app. Or simply with an alarm clock 😉
  2. Freedom is an app with which you can switch off your internet for a predetermined time. This is very helpful when you are constantly distracting yourself. You can only restore your Internet connection by restarting your computer or when the time has expired. Restarting your computer is often such a big hurdle that it prevents you from surfing the internet.
  3. coffitivity.com is a website or app that gives you “coffee shop” noises in your ears. Light background noises have been shown to improve your ability to concentrate. Coffitivity is an excellent way to differentiate yourself from the sounds of the outside world. The same applies to “white noise”. These are noises such as, for example, rain or waterfalls, which help you concentrate and isolate you from the sounds of the outside world.

15: How to be productiveGet fully motivated by putting yourself into an emotional state

Your energy level is extremely important if you want to be productive. When you’re hanging in the corner like a wet sack, it’s hard to tackle the next task full of energy. So what can you do to increase your energy levels? To bring your motivation to life ?

You can put yourself in a positive emotional state. Positive emotions increase your energy level. And this boost of energy can help you tackle the next task with more drive. There are different ways to put yourself in a positive emotional state.

Option 1: music

  1. Pick a song that you really like and that is activating at the same time.
  2. Sit or lie down. Close your eyes.
  3. Now listen to this song 3 times in a row.

Option 2: Inspirational Videos

Sites like youtube are a gold mine for inspiring clips that give you a positive emotional charge. Find a video that inspires you in particular (e.g. historical moments, sporting events).

Option 3: Charge your goal emotionally

16: How to be productiveSharpen your saw with relaxing breaks

Sharpen your saw during the break. During the break, you recharge your batteries and become productive again.That is why it is so important that you take regular breaks. And then it’s best to use the breaks to recharge your batteries. But what can you do during a break to recharge your batteries?

How does it work?

  1. meditate for a few minutes 
  2. make deep abdominal breathing .
  3. take a walk in the fresh air.
  4. just do nothing and look holes in the air.
  5. just do what you feel like doing.
  6. get your heart rate up a little. Walking, jogging, cycling, doing squats, jumping jacks, etc.
  7. Autogenic training

17: Be more productive with the right environment 

Sometimes you just can’t get into your work rhythm at your workplace. Instead of being unproductive for the rest of the day, you should just change your environment. Because the right environment can get you back into your work rhythm very quickly.

Such a change in the work environment often helps you to become productive again. Of course, this tip will only help you if you are not tied to your desk in the office. Maybe you also have quiet work rooms or conference rooms in your office that you can use. Or you sit down in a coffee shop or in the university library.

It is precisely for such purposes that there are now “co-working spaces” across the country. Offices where you can rent a desk by the day. These are all environments in which there is a working atmosphere. The only important thing is that you find environments in which you can work well. And use the environment for you to maintain your productivity.

How does it work?

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen. Or open your writing program on the computer.
  2. Make a list of all the places you can work well.
  3. Think about other options that you may have in your office and put them on the list.
  4. Search the internet for cafés, libraries, and co-working spaces near you. Add all these possible new work environments to your list.
  5. Next time you get stuck, give it a try. Take a break as described in tip 16. And then change your work environment.

18: Fit for the next day through proper relaxation in the evening

“After the game is before the next game.”

Transferred to the subject of productivity, this means: Your after-work schedule determines how rested and productive you will be the next day.

Now stop here for a moment and think about how you usually end up after work. What are the three things you usually do after work?

The American Psychological Association once examined which activities are really good for relaxation and stress relief. And some not. Take a close look at the following two lists. Surprises guaranteed! The most effective ways to relax and reduce stress after work are:

  1. Move
  2. Sport and play
  3. Read
  4. listen to music
  5. Spending time with friends and family
  6. Massages
  7. To go for a walk
  8. attend a service
  9. Meditate
  10. yoga
  11. pursue a creative hobby

Worst strategies for relaxation and stress relief:

  1. Gambling
  2. Shopping
  3. Smoke
  4. drink alcohol
  5. eat
  6. playing computer games
  7. surf the Internet
  8. watch TV or movies for more than 2 hours

TV, internet, food, daddling, everything is not so optimal …?
Perhaps you have now also caught yourself saying that your after-work hours could be improved. So from today create an evening that really relaxes you… That gives you new energy.

How does it work?

  1. Check out the list of effective ways to relax and reduce stress.
  2. Plan at least one of these activities for your evening after work. For at least an hour. You can also combine the activities with each other. It is important that you allow yourself at least an hour to do this.
  3. Program a cell phone reminder for tonight. So that you don’t forget your plan.
  4. Do it. Allow yourself this time for yourself. This is how you come down. And refuel valuable energy.

19: How to kick yourself the right ass with the help of the right punishments

This tip is one of those notorious “harder lines” … Which is why we put it at the end of this list. 😉 If you’re a fan of the softer approach, skip ahead to the next tip. Because this tip is certainly not for everyone. But it works and is extremely effective.

As already described in tip 13, some of us work best when we are under pressure. But pressure is not necessarily nice. That’s why it shouldn’t necessarily be a permanent solution.

Tip 13 was about artificial pressure and deadlines. This tip here basically takes the same principle to extremes. Because you link missing the deadline with a certain penalty that is really uncomfortable for you. So that you really want to avoid it.

How does it work?

  1. Define down to the last detail what you want to have done and when. So that there really cannot be any misunderstandings.
  2. Define certain exceptions that you want to apply (vacation, illness, deaths …).
  3. Find a “referee”. Someone to control whether your deadline is met or missed. Preferably a friend.
  4. Define a specific penalty for not reaching the deadline. It has to be something that you really want to avoid. Because only then does this method develop its “ass kick effect”.
  5. Another possible punishment can be a fine that hurts you. The important thing about the fine is that the money really has to be gone. That means it doesn’t go to the referee. And not for a good cause either. But for a “bad purpose” for you. So, for example, as a donation to an organization or party whose goals you do not share at all. The referee has to take care of that.
  6. Draw up a contract that states all of this and that you and your referee sign.
  7. For example, if you opted for a $250 fine, withdraw the money from your account today. And give it to the referee in advance. So from now on you have to do everything to get the money back. That develops a much greater motivation for you.

20: Be as productive as Leonardo da Vinci – by positively procrastinating

Leonardo da Vinci was known to be one of the most creative, inventive and productive people who have ever lived on this planet.

A special feature of da Vinci’s working style was that he always worked on several projects at the same time. If he ever got stuck with one thing, he would change jobs in his studio and continue working on the next thing.

This is a pretty good trick that you can also use to get the most out of your productivity. If you don’t feel like doing a task, just do something else that needs to be done.

That is positive procrastination. You don’t just procrastinate. You also do other important things in the meantime. If you juggle this technique properly, you can do a lot of important tasks “on the side” that would otherwise have cost you a lot of overcoming.

As Dr. Piers Steel writes in his book:

“We are ready to tackle any task, no matter how bad, as long as we can avoid an even worse task.”

We make use of this logic.

How does it work?

  1. Make a list of priorities as described in tip 3.
  2. Take a look at this list and give each task a score from 1 (don’t feel like it) to 10 (really enjoy it).
  3. First, work on the task you feel like doing the most.
  4. If you don’t feel like doing the current task anymore, go back to point 2 and assign new scores for all tasks.
  5. Always work on the tasks that cause you the least discomfort.