Down the Rabbit Hole.
The internet has no shortage of Productivity tips, list, articles, ideas and recommendations for your Googling pleasure.
I know because I recently fell down the Productivity tips internet rabbit hole … it’s deep … and it’s daunting. The tips were great, but I was left asking myself: “Which of these are the best tips and where the heck do I start?”
A few weeks and countless Productivity focused Google searches later …
I ended up documenting every single list, theme and Productivity tip I came across, highlighting recurring themes and documenting when the same tips came up in multiple articles.
Why Did I Do This?
Aside from the fact that I’m a Productivity 🤓, I had a hunch that if I spent some time Googling and cross-referencing and bucketing up the best tips and suggestions from the top ranked articles, that ⭐️Productivity Gold⭐️ was hiding. I thought I might find a starting point for Productivity greatness.
And I was right.
The Three Buckets of Productivity.
My first big ah ha moment struck when I realized that every Productivity Tip I came across fell into one of three buckets. I call these “The Three Buckets of Productivity”:
- Care for your MIND & BODY (… so you can experience intense Clarity)
- Establish a TRUSTED PRODUCTIVITY SYSTEM (… so you can enjoy endless Focus)
- Prioritize what’s TRULY IMPORTANT (… so you can make a lasting Impact)
The Productivity Starter Statement.
I then took a top Productivity tip from each bucket and squished them together to form what I call The Productivity Starter Statement.
I think that anyone looking for a solid place to start their Productivity journey (amidst the myriad of Productivity tips, lists and articles smattered across the internet), this is it.
When you wake up in the morning: drink a glass of water (clarity), plan your day (focus) and do the most important thing first (impact).
I came across a bazillion different Productivity tips in my research and I didn’t want to make another “Top 10” list.
My goal here was to write a simple, actionable article that’s laser focused on the three Productivity tips from this statement. I’m confident that if you’re able to steal a simple idea or two from this post, your Productivity (Clarity, Focus and Impact) will soar!
Productivity Starts with a Glass of Water.
I’m not gonna lie, I was a little surprised to see “Drink a glass of water when you wake up” on so many lists. But the more I researched, it makes total sense!
Chris Bailey wrote a GREAT ARTICLE on the benefits of drinking 16oz of water immediately when you wake up. Essentially, at night, your body does magical things to repair itself. Drinking a glass of water in the morning (on an empty stomach) flushes out evil toxins 😈, kick-starts your metabolism ⚡️and aids in digestion 💩 (sorry, had to go there).
RESEARCH shows that drinking water immediately when you wake up has a huge impact on your brain, your clarity and your ability to focus. Think about it … you’ve just starved your body of water for 7-8 hours while you slept. The science shows that if your body is dehydrated by just 1%, you could realize a 5% decrease in cognitive function.
Since I started my research, I’ve been drinking a glass of water immediately when I wake up. And not to sound cheesy, but it’s been a total clarity game-changer. I feel more focused, clear headed and ready to tackle the day!
- There are health benefits to DRINKING WARM WATER when you first wake up.
- Drinking water as soon as you wake up gives you a huge head start towards nailing your DAILY WATER INTAKE GOALS.
- Put a glass of water on your nightstand before you go to sleep. It’ll be waiting for you the minute you wake up 💧😋🤘
Plan Your Day.
The Planning piece is a tad more complex than drinking a glass of water.
To keep this section as actionable as possible, I’ll stick to three of the most common mentions related to “Planning” from my research:
- Capture thoughts and ideas in an Inbox
- Do a Daily Review of your todos
- Schedule todos on your Calendar
First off, it doesn’t really matter whether you Plan Your Day at night or first thing in the morning (after your daily water chug of course!). It’s up to you, it comes down to PERSONAL PREFERENCE really.
A Trusted Productivity System in a Must.
I’ve learned that what IS important is having some sort of daily Productivity System in place that you trust. This is a must so you can stay focused throughout the day.
I’m a huge fan of David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done) framework for task management. The Five Steps of GTD are to Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect and Engage.
The trick is that you can’t successfully Plan ahead if you don’t have a method to Capture all the ideas, thoughts and follow up items that hit you throughout your day.
Seriously, what is there to plan if you don’t have a complete list of items to review in the first place?!
Your Inbox, Daily Review & Calendar.
I use an app called Things3 to help me plan and manage my todo lists and it’s 😎. If you Google “Best Todo Apps,” a list of other solid apps will pop up. Many folks still prefer pen and paper and that’s fine too. Again, it all comes down to personal preference.
The Capture step is critical and to be honest, it isn’t really a “Step” per se … it actually occurs throughout your day. You add anything that you may need to think about or follow up on later to an Inbox (electronic or paper). Here’s how I manage MY INBOX.
Once it’s time to actually Plan Your Day (morning or night), Steps 2 (Clarify) and 3 (Organize) from the GTD framework kick in. Many people call this the Daily Review Process. Here’s how I manage MY DAILY REVIEW.
Throughout your Daily Review Process, you’ll want to look for opportunities to block dedicated time on your Calendar to complete your todos. A ton of articles hit on the importance of scheduling todos on your CALENDAR, it takes your commitment of future action to another level!
One key take-away from my research is to always schedule breaks throughout the day … and take them!
Bonus Tips (to avoid distractions throughout the day):
- Only check EMAIL at certain scheduled points throughout the day. I’m not great at this today (admittedly). I like the feel of an always clear inbox, but this is one I plan to work on.
- Delete Facebook off your phone right now! No, seriously, do it. Fine, if you’re not quite ready to make that move, THIS ARTICLE suggests that you bury your social media apps in folders away from your home page (out of sight, out of mind). I love this tip.
- On your desktop or laptop @ work: 1) hide your dock (you don’t need to stare at those little icons with red notification dots all day), 2) turn off banner notifications (the ones that pop up when you receive messages) and 3) close your laptop during 1on1s and meetings (be present and wholly engage in the conversation).
Do the Most Important Thing First.
This tip showed up on nearly every list.
Interestingly enough though, “do the most important thing first” was almost always followed by “pick tasks to say no to or delegate.”
Which makes sense … it’s all about Prioritizing.
The PARETO PRINCIPLE (or the 80/20 rule) spells this out perfectly: 20% of the work will net 80% of the results. Conversely, 80% of the work is basically “busy work” that won’t move the needle.
Strategies to Help You Prioritize.
James Clear wrote a GREAT ARTICLE about Warren Buffet’s Two List Strategy. Basically, you make a list of your top 25 goals (this could be career goals, life goals, goals for the week, etc). Circle the 5 most important goals and start working on them right away! Everything you didn’t circle becomes your “Avoid-At-All-Cost” list and shouldn’t get any attention until you’ve succeeded with the top 5.
Another popular approach for prioritizing is the IVY LEE METHOD. With this strategy, you write down the 5-6 most important things you want to accomplish the next day. You then focus on one task at a time, going from most important to least important. This one’s been around for 100+ yrs and has stood the test of time.
A third approach is known as the EISENHOWER BOX. You bucket your tasks in four categories: 1) Urgent & Important (do them immediately), 2) Important but not Urgent (schedule for later), 3) Urgent but not Important (delegate), 4) Neither Urgent Not Important (delete!).
- Make sure a healthy dose of “Purpose” is included in your Daily Productivity Flow and in your Priorities. While doing “the most important thing first” is great, I would caution that if you find that day in and day out the “most important thing” is always work related, you should take stock of your priorities.
- David Allen’s HORIZON’S OF FOCUS take you 50,000 ft up so that you’re forced to look down at your life and think about your bigger picture “Purpose.” This was 🤯 stuff for me.
- Simon Sinek’s START WITH WHY Ted Talk may honestly be the best Ted Talk / Speech ever. I went out on a ladder dangling from a helicopter when I linked Sinek’s Ted Talk and a 60’s Batman clip in THIS article.
Share Your Thoughts!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Productivity Starter Statement and where your Productivity focused internet rabbit hole tumbles have taken you!