There are four productivity hacks (or mindsets) that really help me to become ultra-productive. These are:
(1) Always have a proactive approach to time management. You should never react, but consciously decide when you’ll do real work, which is also called deep work, and when you’ll interact with the people, technology and environment around you.
(2) The second productivity mindset update states that there’s enough time to do all the important tasks in a particular day, if you know how to organize yourself.
There’s never a shortage of time. Whining, complaining and feeling sorry for yourself won’t get you anywhere. Only organizing yourself better will.
(3) The third new view on productivity is that being productive means focusing on things that create and deliver real value. Producing, innovating, marketing, selling. Creating and delivering value should be your focus.
These are the things that companies and markets reward the most. Everything else is a waste of time. The majority of your working time should be spent on these activities. If you want to be ultra-productive in life, you have to become a producer and a marketer.
And the fourth one is to achieve flow in the workplace as many times as possible, but at least two times per day.
Flow in the most productive and creative mental state
Let me reveal the secret how to make sure you spend 80% of your time on high‑value activities, creating and producing value. The ultimate hack that will make you super productive is to plan in advance scheduled blocks of time, when you work in the flow, without any distractions or interruptions.
The idea is to plan your work in the flow, as we learned also called deep work, in advance and once you do that, you make sure nothing comes between you and your scheduled work in the flow.
First a word or two about working in the flow. The flow is a psychological state (based on the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience), which you reach when you work on a task that is a little bit out of your comfort zone, and when you work in complete focus, without any distractions and interruptions.
When you work on a task that really matters, you soon forget about the time, your worries, about everything else. You just create and deliver. It’s something we have all experienced, usually during play or during creative or artistic activities. The flow is a wonderful state to be in, a godlike state.
The good news is that you can achieve such a state at your work on a daily basis, if you organize yourself properly. All high‑value activities have the potential to kick you into the flow, if you work on them without any distractions and interruptions.
Flow in the workplace must be planned in advance
Thus, the main secret to improving your productivity is to organize your schedule in a way that permits you to work in the flow for 2 hours at least twice per day – once before noon and once in the afternoon.
You want to reserve some completely alone time in your schedule, without any phones, emails, people stopping by or any other emergencies. Two times for two hours. That’s achievable for anybody.
In this alone time, you want to tackle the important tasks, you want to produce things that matter, you want to create and deliver value. It can be innovating, writing, analyzing, calling one client after the other, generating new leads, whatever is on your plate and will lead to the fastest progress towards your goals.
Plan one flow in the morning and one in the afternoon
Me personally, I have one such flow in the morning, way before other people wake up. At 6 AM. I use the first flow for creative activities, such as writing, designing, video shooting and so on. The second flow, in the afternoon, I use for delivering value. I network, call my clients, do presentations, and so on.
During both flows I accept no unplanned calls, my browser and email client are closed, and I sprint in complete focus to finish the high‑value tasks.
Working for two hours, two times per day, in complete focus is what completely changed my productivity levels. It’s my main secret to producing as much as I produce. It’s the ultimate way to be proactive with your time.
And it’s something that’s achievable for everybody. So, open your calendar, reserve two hours of time tomorrow (it's also called timeboxing), exclusively on a task that will have the biggest impact on your future success. Now open your calendar and do it!
And if you want to learn more, read the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.