10 important lessons I learned during my project A Year of Productivity
Today we will share with you the 10 most important lessons that Chris Bailey learned during the project - “a Year of Productivity” . Our previous article caused a mixed reaction from the audience, if you have not read it, we recommend that you watch it and the rest of the articles by Chris Bailey on our blog .
Last year in May, I graduated from the university with a business specialty and received two profitable offers of cooperation, but rejected both of them because I had my own plan.
During the year, from May 1, 2013 to May 1, 2014, I studied all the productivity information available to me and daily wrote down the conclusions that I made as part of the A Year of Productivity project.
During these 12 months I set up countless experiments to increase productivity, talked to the most successful people in this regard, read a lot of books and scientific literature - in general, I did everything I could to figure out how to get the most out of myself, and then describe your experience to others.
During this year, 197 articles were written that collected more than one million views. I came to the end of my path, it remains only to summarize its results as brightly as possible.
To complete the year of increasing personal productivity, I created a selection of the most important lessons that I learned on the way to my goal. Below are 10 key findings from my project.
So, leaving the extra words,let's move on to the most important lessons in improving personal effectiveness, which I learned and formulated throughout the year.
10. One of the best ways to increase your productivity is to focus on those tasks that bring maximum benefit.
In every component of our lives, whether it’s the mind, body, emotions, relationships, careers, finances or entertainment, there are only a few such tasks. For example, at work you perform only a few functions, which account for 80-90% of your total efficiency.
One of the easiest ways to do more is to identify the most relevant and important issues.in every area of your life and fulfill exactly them. Remember, there are a limited number of activities that give maximum return, in exchange for the time, effort and attention spent.
9. The three surest ways to become more productive are in combination the three most boring tips that everyone probably got.
It seems to me that in every cliche lies the truth, so powerful that people feel the need to repeat it again and again. The same applies to commonplace tips for improving personal effectiveness.
Over the past year, I have conducted countless experiments on the implementation of various habits and techniques to increase efficiency in my life, but as a result, the following three rules were most relevant:
1. Eat well.
2. Get enough sleep.
3. Go in for sports.
These tips are so beaten that sometimes they lose all their meaning. But hear me, as a person who has tried hundreds of different tactics of managing time, energy and attentiveness on himself over the past ten years: nothing made me more effective than good nutrition, sleep and exercise. 
8. Question all tips for improving personal effectiveness.
There are tips that are ideal for most people, for example: “eat well”, “get enough sleep” and “exercise”, and also “meditate”, but there are exceptions to any rule .
Sometimes it’s useful to reject generally accepted truths, especially if something else works better in your case.Did you realize that you are becoming much more effective if you do not have to get up at 5:30 in the morning? Then sleep longer! It became obvious that you are more of a use if you do not do important things in the morning, but simply reply to emails? So this is what you need to do in the morning!
There is a grain of truth in every advice on increasing personal effectiveness and in any everyday wisdom, but a lot of them may turn out to be useless in your case. Everyone thinks in his own way and has his own life priorities, therefore not one, even the most universal advice, suits absolutely everyone and always.
Sometimes it’s useful to question established stereotypes , especially if something else works better in your case. So go for it!
7. Forming good habits automatically increases your productivity.
I believe that one of the best ways to become more effective is to turn the new, most productive behaviors into habits so that everything is done automatically.
According to the theory of Charles Dahigg, the author of The Power of Habit, 40–45% of our daily activity is attributable to habits. The formation of new habits is not an easy task. It sometimes takes several months to turn a new habit into one’s life, but if that happens, a person automatically increases his level of productivity.
For example, it took me more than a month to form a habit of getting up at 5:30 in the morning, but after I did this, this habit became a key one for me, and I got up early already automatically. It took me several weeks to get used to the new diet, but as soon as I got through, my new eating habits became part of my life, becoming one of the other automatic actions.
I repeat, the formation of new habits is not an easy task, especially if you first have to use willpower to change your behavioral patterns, but remember - over time, the process becomes easier until, as a result, you automatically become more productive.
6. There are three productivity components that need to be combined on a daily basis: time, energy and attentiveness
Toward the end of my project, I began to realize that each article I wrote could be classified into one of three categories: 1. how to better manage time ; 2. how to better manage energy ; 3. how to better manage concentration .
In my opinion, all these components are critically important if you want to maintain your productivity at a high level.Some people have an incredible supply of energy and a high level of concentration of attention, but they do not know how to manage their time, and therefore, do not do the main work and have low efficiency. Others, on the contrary, are able to correctly allocate their time, and are quite energetic, but not attentive, because of which they also cannot be productive. Still others ideally concentrate on their work and know how to manage their temporary resources, but they don’t understand how to properly spend their strength and energy, which is why they quickly get tired and do not achieve their goal.
People with high productivity skillfully manage all three components.
5. There is no one secret way to increase personal productivity, but there are hundreds of strategies that you could use to achieve your goal.
If there is such a secret, then I could not identify it for a year of experiments and studying the effectiveness.
If I learned something for sure, it is that there are so many different tactics that you can use to control time, energy, and attention. In fact, by the end of the year I put together a collection of 100 of my favorite tricks.
Productivity is a complex concept that can be characterized only by understanding its interconnected parts. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of factors that influence your daily productivity. Each of them is necessarily associated with the management of time, strength and mindfulness.
4. Excessively hard work negatively affects productivity
. During my project, I found out thatworking too hard drastically reduces my productivity .
As part of my experiment, I worked 90 hours a week for a month, and then a month for 20 hours. As a result, I found out that my productivity coefficient in both cases was approximately the same. This happened for one simple reason - limiting the time allotted for a particular task, I forced myself to spend more energy, making up for the lack of time. If I allocated more time for work, I hesitated, paid attention to secondary tasks, simply wasting time.
What happens if a person works too hard, spending a lot of energy on the task? It just burns out. It is noteworthy that I did not describe the detrimental effect of excessive concentration of attention at work, although I realized that concentration of attention and expenditure of energy are always interconnected. In my opinion, energy is a kind of fuel that a person burns in a day, doing his job. If you put all your energy into the task and don’t give yourself the opportunity to recover through sports training, for example, or just pause at work, eating and don’t pay enough attention to relaxing techniques, you’ll just burn your “fuel” and start to burn yourself.
By working too long or too hard, you are actually destroying your efficiency, because this rhythm depletes your two most valuable resources: time and energy.
3. The best way to feel interested is to understand what the work will do for you.
The most motivated (and productive) people regularly ask themselves: why do they do what they do?
If you try to take the number of tasks performed, instead of doing what is consistent with your values and beliefs, then you will certainly raise the bar for your productivity, but only in the short term, and in the long term, you will certainly encounter dissatisfaction, and therefore , with low efficiency. A key task in this regard is to clearly define your values and the factors that motivate you best. To take on work and responsibility is primarily based on their principles.
The fact that you are constantly busy and do a lot does not necessarily mean that you are productive. I would say that the opposite is true. Productivity is not directly related to the amount of work performed, the main thing is whether you have achieved the main and most important goal for yourself.
2. The desire for a high level of productivity makes no sense if in the process you become merciless to yourself.
The reason why I pay so much attention to a humane attitude to myself in the framework of the A Year of Productivity project is simple - this factor is one of those components of productivity, with which I had especially hard.
At the very beginning of my experiment, I rushed into the pool with my head, because nothing captivates me more than working on the level of productivity. At first, serious loads were easy, and I liked everything. I just did not have to force myself to work hard.
But as the project progressed, when the number of visits to this site went from several thousand a month to hundreds of thousands, it became increasingly difficult for me to start writing and conducting experiments. As a result, I began to like the process much less. Admitting this is not easy, especially considering the number of people who dream, like me, do what they love and achieve success. On the other hand, it is simply necessary to show how important it is to take care of yourself in the process of increasing personal effectiveness.
You will not achieve this goal without making an effort, you will have to force yourself to work harder, but in the process of making positive changes in life, it is very easy to go too far and begin to make excessive demands on yourself.
Forcing yourself to work more, constantly monitor the level of your exactingness. Since 80% of what you are mentally telling yourself is initially negative, it’s very important to be a little soft to yourself, especially when you are trying to get better.
To be kinder to myself during the annual productivity experiment, several methods helped me: meditation, organizing more breaks, completely disconnecting from it several times a day, and cultivating habits that bring happiness to my life.
1. Efficiency is not how much you have done, but what you have achieved.
At the very beginning of the project to improve efficiency, I created a page for conducting statistics in order to share relevant information about my daily productivity. Every day I published data on the number of articles I wrote, pages read, and hours spent in work. I assumed that these are ideal parameters for determining your personal effectiveness.
I could not be wrong more.
Unless you operate a plant, performance data based on the number of units produced will give you a meager, limited picture of the productivity ratio.In fact, if you try to solve the problem with intelligence and ingenuity and write articles so that instead of 500 words you get only 100, then by measuring your productivity in the above way, you will be unpleasantly surprised by its low level.
It is very easy to give in to the desire to apply measurements and statistics, but when it comes to a person’s personal effectiveness, statistics are secondary. Productivity is not how much you do, but what you end up with.
It is important to perform the most important and urgent tasks, it is also necessary to know how to properly distribute your resources, such as time, energy and mindfulness in order to do more. But at the end of the day, when your time, strength and attentiveness are exhausted, you have only one thing left - the result of your activity and the understanding that you, through the work that you performed during the day, changed the world a little.
This is the meaning of productivity.
Note: 1. I was going to include meditation in this list, but I realized that this activity is not so acceptable for the vast majority of people, like proper nutrition, exercise and healthy sleep.
PS Some time ago we published one of the most interesting articles from Chris Bailey - an article about great achievements .