The world is a busy place, and we are busy people. But just because we are busy, doesn't mean we are accomplishing our goals.
There is a BIG difference between busy and productive.
With these essential productivity principals, you will be able to get more done in less time than ever before.
1) Decision Fatigue
The average adult makes 35,000 decisions a day.
Decision Fatigue is a phenomenon where the quality of the decisions of an individual deteriorate after sessions of decision making.
In short, every unnecessary decision you make throughout the day lowers the quality of your decisions thereafter.
Not only that, decision fatigue can cause decision avoidance which "suggests that choice, to the extent that it requires greater decision-making among options, can become burdensome and ultimately counterproductive."
Another notable effect of decision fatigue is impaired self regulation, which, in the context of productivity, is the worst effect.
This effect states that "The process of choosing may itself drain some of the self’s precious resources, thereby leaving the executive function less capable of carrying out its other activities." Essentially leaving you with less willpower to get things done.
Let's do the math here.
Too many decisions + Too many options = more fatigue, worse decisions, less willpower
The solution? Make everything we can think of into a routine. Have a routine for breakfast, for when we workout, for when we go to bed, and anything else we can imagine. Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day because he understood this principal and its importance.
2) Parkinson's Law
Parkinson's Law is the adage that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
Essentially, if we give ourselves two weeks to complete something, it will take us the full two weeks. But if we give ourselves two days, it will be completed in two days.
This idea is an absolute game changer. The next time you want to accomplish anything, give yourself a much smaller time limit than you would normally, and watch yourself work miracles.
3) Pareto's Principle
Pareto's Principal—also known as the 80/20 rule— states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
For productivity purposes, this is the idea that 80% of our accomplishments come from 20% of our work. If we find and focus on the 20% that achieves these results, we will become exponentially more efficient at achieving our goals.
Look at how we spend our time, 80% of it is just busy work and procrastination. It's the 20%, the real game changing stuff, that results in our accomplishments.
Find the activities that are the most effective in getting your desired results and focus on those.
4) Opportunity Cost
This is an economics principal, but I like to use it for productivity as well.
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen".
In the context of productivity this essentially means anytime you choose to spend your time, money, or energy on one thing, it is at the cost of all the other things you could be spending those resources on.
So when you are social media, you are losing the "potential gains" that you would receive if you were working out, working on projects, or doing something else productive.
This principal, combined with the 80/20 rule, is a powerful combo. Now we know when we are focusing on the 80% of things that waste time, we are not only getting sub-par results, we are also losing the potential gains we would receive if we were focusing on the 20% of real productive activities.
- Cut down the amount of unnecessary decisions you make. Use routine.
- Give yourself short periods of time to complete tasks.
- Focus on the 20% of activities that achieve 80% of your results.
- Keep in mind the opportunity costs you are paying when deciding how to use your time.