Add A Month of Productivity Every Year

Become more productivye

Plus priceless benefits to your mental health.

How do I become more productive
How to improve productivity
Photo by Marc Rafanell López on Unsplash

If you’re 10% more productive each day you can add an extra month of efficiency to your year. What impact would this have on your personal and professional life?

Finding 10% is relatively straightforward if you haven’t started optimizing yet. It only takes a couple of steps.

First, open your phone settings. Second, turn off all non-essential notifications. Third, repeat steps one and two on other devices.

By non-essential notifications I mean everything. I estimate that <1% of you have true emergencies on hand, despite what your nervous system tells you. Your focus is one of your greatest gifts. That ability is being eroded by technology.

That’s your 10% right there. The rest of this article is the icing on the cake.

Icing The Cake

Our capacity is incredible if we engage in deep work. Deep work relies on a distraction-free environment. Deep work is harnessing ultradian rhythms. Deep work means one task at a time.

When you constantly switch between tasks, you’re effectively operating with 10 fewer IQ points. It takes up to 20 minutes to undo the damage of switching tasks. Smoking weed, turning up to the office, but vigilantly single-tasking would be operating with only 5 fewer IQ points. Neither are great strategies.

Ultradian Rhythms

Ultradian rhythms are longer than an hour but shorter than a day.

Ultradian rhythms are the ebb and flow of our attention, energy, and focus. Hormonal levels, muscle tension, heart rate, alertness, and mental focus all increase in the first part of the ultradian cycle. These begin to decline after about an hour. Our bodies then crave a rest after 80–90 minutes.

We want to ride these rhythms like a wave. Be fully on for up to 90 minutes. Then be fully off for a short break. It is highly inefficient to flatline throughout your day, neither fully on, nor fully off. You’re meandering through your day in a cloud of distraction and fatigue.

Think about how can you weave ultradian rhythm blocks into your day. Bonus points are awarded for time blocking 90-minutes of deep work into your calendar.

It is also very important to come up with some rejuvenating activities for 5–15 minute breaks. Ideally, these aren’t social media and email. Take a true break from work. Personally, making a hot drink and doing a few stretches are all I need initially. Later in the day, I prefer a longer break to go for a walk.

The relaxation part of an ultradian rhythm.
Photo by S Migaj on Unsplash

Time Blocking

Time blocking is the pro way to rid yourself of distraction and do great work. Gary Keller called it “productivity’s greatest power tool” in his book ‘The ONE Thing’.

It’s really simple. Remove all distractions and set aside a period of time for your most important task. Put this in your calendar.

Add repeat entries to your calendar for greater impact. This works particularly well if you know your most productive times of the day.

Your golden hours of work are influenced by your chronotype. Find out yours and build that awareness.

Dispel Distraction With the 10-Minute Rule

Even the temptation of another task is damaging. It splits your attention, and we often give in to our desires. Install better habits using the 10-minute rule described by Nir Eyal.

Any time you feel distracted, or have the urge to do something that isn’t your work, such as checking your phone or social media, say to yourself; “not now, I can check in 10 minutes.”

You acknowledge the urge by saying to it “soon”. This does a great job of dispelling the urge.

Once it’s gone, it rarely follows up on you in 10 minutes either.

You are also training your ability to focus for longer. Each success is building that “muscle” for the future.

Multitasking

Humans are dreadful at performing two complex tasks at the same time. We make more mistakes and everything takes longer. Our brains work harder for worse results.

However, multitasking can work effectively in certain circumstances. There are even instances where we get more bang for our buck doing so. One or more of the tasks must be low enough in complexity that we don’t task switch.

Nir Eyal calls bundling appropriate tasks together “multichannel multitasking.”

The premise is that our brain’s processing capacity is limited. More complex tasks take up more capacity. We don’t have the capacity for two highly demanding tasks. Our brain is also limited in the number of attention channels it can utilize. It comprehends one signal from each sensory type at a time.

Listening to the radio and a podcast at the same time is futile. However, Auditory plus tactile sensory systems may work well together. For example, listening and walking. Walking can increase creativity, consider multitasking on foot! Take a meeting, or phone a loved one.

Coffee is a biohack, bulletproof coffee especially
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Additional Biohacks

The Biohacker in me is keen to share other ways to boost productivity. I used most of the following hacks to enhance my internal environment this morning before writing.

I also got a great night of sleep. Sleep is foundational. Get that right first as it moves the needle the most. If aren’t getting good quality sleep try this 14-day challenge.

I practice intermittent fasting regularly. I also do most of my writing in the morning. Both of these give me more clarity individually. Combining them is powerful. If I’m writing later on in the day, I may have some MCT oil in me. The brain loves this stuff. The result is energized tranquility.

Meditation trains your ability to focus, become aware of distractions, and swiftly course correct. Meditation is not about clearing your mind but observing it. My mind is a noisy place. But it often generates some great ideas when I’m sitting on the cushion.

Music helps me focus. Something low tempo without lyrics gives me laser-like focus. I often use long binaural beat tracks designed for focus or studying.

Without going too deep into the rabbit hole, devices using pulsed electromagnetic frequency PEMF or ultra-low radiofrequency energy ULRE can be used to positively impact your brain waves for specific tasks. I’m using one right now. You can also find Infrasonic devices using sound and vibration to calm the nervous system. Pretty cool right?

Finally, we have smart drugs and nootropics. Don’t be scared away by the term. Caffeine is a drug and we routinely give it to children. It’s one of the most potent. Again, it enhances our ability to concentrate and focus. There are many smart drugs that can enhance our brain and neurotransmitter function. Some are natural, some synthetic.

Final Thought

Have you silenced your notifications yet?

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