Open Thinkering


The 3 key elements of productivity.

Harder Better Faster Stronger

Productivity is big business. After all, who wouldn’t pay good money to find out how to become faster and better at work and play? The less reputable books, blogs and podcasts available would lead you to believe that there is some kind of ‘dark art’ or ‘magic formula’ to becoming more productive.

That’s simply not true.

Productivity boils down to three very straightforward things:

  1. Motivation
  2. Efficiency
  3. Choices

Let me explain…

1. Motivation

These three key elements to productivity are actually somewhat hierarchical. At the bottom of the hierarchy comes motivation. This can come from a variety of sources but all lead to a realisation that your day-to-day routine can be made faster, better and more interesting by making some changes.

Some of the best ways to get motivated that I’ve found are:

  • Getting up early
  • Reading something motivational (including the Bible)
  • Finding an audience (e.g. through blogging)
  • Holding yourself accountable to someone else
  • Having a goal in mind (e.g. spending more time with family, achieving a target amount of something)

2. Efficiency

Efficiency is doing things you already do, but faster and/or better. It’s like replacing You 1.0 with You 1.5.So instead of using a paper calendar you use an online calendar. You multitask. If there’s a way to use keyboard shortcuts in an application you use routinely, you seek them out and start using them.

Motivation must be present before time-savings and productivity boosts through efficiency can be found. It’s far too easy to maintain the status quo and do things in the same old tried-and-tested way. Efficiency involves experimentation and, as such, can be tiring as you are exercising your mental faculties more. This, of course, is good in the long run for mental development and memory retention.

3. Choices

Ultimately, though, being productive means making the correct choices, constantly improving workflows and having a decent feedback system. One of the best ways of doing this is by being part of a self-improvement community. Churc communities – at least the more evangelical ones – are naturally like this, but they can be found elsewhere.

Twitter and other social networks are good places to find motivated, enthusiastic people willing to share ideas and tips on becoming more productive. Some of the absolutely top tips, however, come from the comments sections of productivity blogs.

Here’s 5 productivity-related blogs you should definitely subscribe to:

What makes YOU more productive? 🙂

(Image credit: WAYWT? by Frederic della Faille @ Flickr)

3 thoughts on “The 3 key elements of productivity.

  1. The most effective way I find to be productive is to spend time imagining (as vividly as I can) what I want my future to look like in whichever area I’m trying to move forward. Then I spend a little more time imagining exactly how I will do this.

    This is time well spent as I seem to get lots of motivation from the process as I try to make my present look like my imagined future. I also start to just see opportunities that will help me move forward, they just present themselves -the clever bit of my brain just spots them. When I was looking for a new car a few years back, every time I saw a car of the model I was considering, it just seemed to jump out at me. This was the same clever bit of my brain in action I think.

    One other way I motivate myself is through uniform. Although I love my bike, I sometimes need a little motivation to actually get out there. All I do in this situation is put on my cycling gear. Suddenly the motivation just comes.

    I’d be interested to hear other people’s ideas for motivation.

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