Today I saw a quote that changed my life. It was a job description that went something like, “You must have a long list of failures and at least as many strategies for bouncing back.” What kind of an employer would want to hire someone with a long list of failures? A highly successful one!
I believe that’s the first clue on how to be highly productive: innovate, take big risks, and bounce back from failure! If you keep throwing stuff at the wall, eventually something’s going to stick.
But how do you achieve this on a day-to-day level?
Begin with pleasure. Start your day with a healthy breakfast, a cold shower (for a boost in energy), meditation, and a fun fifteen minutes. Yes, do whatever tickles your fancy for fifteen minutes of pleasure. For me, that’s watching marketing videos, Masterclass lessons, or unconditional love courses. What fifteen minutes of fun might you choose?
After that, prioritize your most important and most urgent tasks. It feels amazing to get the most critical tasks behind you. Record your time spent on the difficult task and what you achieved. A timer and tracking system helps turn it into a high-performance race.
Do high-value, fun tasks when your energy is highest. Build into your day tasks that excite you and that have high value. Try to schedule these activities during times of the day when your energy piques. It’ll make your workday passion-filled and productive.
Build in breaks. At least every two hours take a break. I’ve found that taking a 5 minute break every 30 minutes to learn a work-relevant skill or to research new strategies helped me the most at work. Since I’ve stopped taking these breaks, I tend to have a lethargy kick in by 1 pm. Best to keep the energy high by taking frequent work-beneficial breaks. By “work-beneficial,” I mean taking enjoyable breaks that advance your work objectives.
Journal. Keep an ongoing journal where you jot down thoughts, to-do items, and other random ideas. I color my most pressing tasks in pink highlight and my completed ones in grey. The pink highlighted to-do list ensures I rarely hesitate between tasks. And then I report the completed activities in our weekly corporate meetings.
Write out goals every week. But don’t just write out goals, schedule time to implement strategies for achieving those goals. Make it a game. For each strategy you create, write the strategy down and put it in a jar. Once your jar fills, why not reward yourself with something extra special? But if you’re shy on rewarding yourself, perhaps reward someone you love or donate to a worthy cause?
Do mundane tasks with love and loved tasks with excitement. When I did math problems for nine hours a day, life wasn’t very exciting. But a shift in one’s posture to enhance alertness, along with thoughts of gratitude for the task, can make a world of difference. Being positive all the time is similar to building muscles. It takes effort and repetition, but the more we are positive, the more joy we experience over time. And positivity pays off in the workplace.
Peer at people on LinkedIn who have career titles you want to achieve. I looked at female CxO’s of energy companies, and frankly, they didn’t look like celebrities, models, or highly polished people. Some of them looked quite average, even mousy or obese, like a friend next door, even unkempt. If that doesn’t make us more productive—like we can do it, too—then perhaps a look at their educational background might.
Create a playbook whenever you face a win or loss. Write down your win or loss, what went right or wrong, and how you could improve your performance next time. But celebrate both your wins and your strategies for improvements. What kind of celebration or reward would you find most motivating?
Avoid Microsoft browsers and opt for Google Chrome instead. The news stories on Microsoft’s browser that pop up cause me to forget what I was about to search. “Another story on Will Smith’s slap?” And then I spend up to 5 minutes trying to figure out what I was intending to search. Save yourself the lost productivity and make Google Chrome your primary browser.
It’s our duty as human beings to give life our best effort. But when motivation dwindles, simply remember, every point of defeat is meant for new strategies and risk-taking. And the more defeats you face—while throwing solutions at the wall until one sticks—the more likely you’ll earn six-figures, gain a PhD, climb the ladder, gain fame, win love, and the list goes on.