Becoming more productive is actually incredibly simple. You don’t have to increase your brain power or do anything too difficult, you just have to shift the way that you approach tasks and goals.
Unfortunately, however, there’s a ton of bullshit advice out there when it comes to scheduling, and it’s hard to know what works.
Trust me—I’ve tried all of it, and most of it doesn’t work, but there’s a few gems that I’m going to share with you today. If you properly implement this advice into your life, I guarantee that you will be more productive, happier, and have a much more fulfilling life.
How to Be More Productive
The very first thing that you ABSOLUTELY NEED TO DO is buy a planner. This is, perhaps, the biggest mistake that 99% of men make when they’re trying to boost their productivity.
No, you cannot remember everything. Unless you’re an autistic savant, you will forget to do certain things. The human mind isn’t perfect, and you’re no exception.
I know somebody who recently forgot to pay her water and electric bill. I mean for Christ’s sake, what could be more important? But she forgot to do it, because she didn’t have a planner.
Ask yourself this: do you think that Warren Buffet or Bill Gates just tell themselves “Nah, I’ll remember it man.” Fuck no—they have every single hour of their day charted out 3 months in advance, because they’re booked with meetings and important events.
Planners only cost like $30 for a whole year, and they provide you with a framework to add order to your life.
If you’re not using a planner, you’re fucking up big time. Some people prefer the giant monthly planners, but in my opinion this is a huge mistake. It doesn’t allow you to focus specifically on what you want to get done each day.
I personally recommend this planner right here, because it helps you prioritize what’s actually important. Rather than most planners, which simply have an hourly layout, this one asks you to specifically choose a mission-critical task to get done, plus other tasks that you can prioritize by importance, which brings me to my first gem.
1. Importance > Urgency
So many people do the exact opposite of this, and it’s no wonder that they have mediocre lives. They focus on stupid little insignificant things, like buying a tie rack or organizing their computer folders, and completely ignore what’s important, like starting a business or contacting new clients.
If you want to be successful, you have to prioritize what is important over what is urgent. That doesn’t mean you can’t do what’s urgent, but it should never be prioritized over what’s actually important.
Importance is what will get you closer to your long term goals, and give you the biggest results, whereas urgency is little tasks that you have to do quickly (for example you have to submit some dumb paper to your boss by next Monday).
Importance, like I said, is what will get you closer to your long term goals.
For example—let’s say that you want to start a kickass consulting business, because you want to escape your 9-5 cubicle grind. You’re getting some leads, but they aren’t coming fast enough—so you decide to build a website for your business.
Now, building a website for your business to generate more leads is fucking important.
It’s not necessarily urgent, because you don’t have to get it done right now, but it’s extremely important. Without it, you won’t succeed, or you’ll only generate 5% of your potential profits.
Some examples of what’s important might be:
Taking your long term girlfriend out to go see a concert.
Finally trying to find a publisher to get your book published
Researching marketing strategies to get your brand out there
Applying to a new job that would pay you 50% more
Going to see your 8 year old son’s baseball game
Are you starting to get the gist? Things that are important actually matter. Things that are urgent are just pesky little deadlines coming up soon.
As I said before, urgency is just a matter of time. Things that are urgent aren’t always important; in fact, most of the time, they’re not important. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever do them, but they should never be your #1 focus.
Some examples of urgent things might be:
An email you have to send out to your boss by Friday
Do you see the point? It’s just random bullshit that’s “due” soon, but it’s not actually getting you closer to your goals.
How to Be More Productive (The Key)
So, with this gem in mind, here is the 3 step process to kicking ass at life:
Every Sunday, plan out your next week. It may change every now and then due to unforeseen circumstances, but it’s still a good idea to plan out your whole week.
Put at least 1 important task to do every day.
Then, put whatever urgent tasks you have to do.
What’s urgent may also be important–these things should be prioritized above all. For example, say that you have to book a hotel room to give a seminar within the next 2 days. That’s pretty fucking urgent and important. Things like this should be prioritized above all else.
Try to get the “urgent” stuff done a few days before it’s due. Procrastinating always creates undue anxiety. I often find that if I just knock something out sooner rather than later, I save myself a whole load of unnecessary stress.
Remember: that which is urgent AND important is always first.
2. Chunking Your Day
Chunking is a phenomenal way to plan your day, and I find that when I employ this strategy I’m far happier and way more productive.
The premise behind chunking is this: certain times of the day are best for certain activities. So, what we do, is we separate the day into four 4-hour chunks; I will refer to these as “quarters” of the day.
For the first quarter, do the most difficult thing on your planner. The reasoning behind this is that you have the most will power when you first wake up, so it’s crucial to utilize this. For the second quarter, still maintain your productivity, but start to knock out some of the less important, more “urgent” tasks.
For the third quarter, start to wind down – maybe check some emails, get some administrative stuff done, and go for a jog. For the fourth quarter, and this is absolutely crucial, do something that you enjoy!
The fourth quarter is the “reward”—this is why I’m such a huge fan of chunking. The idea that you need to hustle 24/7 is completely moronic and doesn’t take into account the fact that human beings need rest in their lives.
If you do not have any pleasure in your life, you will quickly burn out.
And, paradoxically enough, by having a rejuvenative last quarter of your day, you’ll find that you’re actually more productive! When you take the time to add some “yin” energy to your “yang,” you’ll find that it balances you out—you’re much less stressed, and you can get work done far easier.
It’s also way easier to push yourself earlier in the day, knowing that you can relax later that night, PLUS you’ll get a way deeper sleep because you’ll go to bed in a good mood, rather than stressed out from work.
A Sample Plan
Whether I wake up at 6AM or 3PM, I almost always follow a chunking method. For the first 1-2 hours, I’ll either do my morning routine or maybe get a fasted workout in, and then I’ll do the hardest thing for that day right after, followed by the rest.
For the sake of this example, let’s say that you wake up at 8:00 AM. In reality, you can wake up whenever you want and still use this strategy, but for the sake of simplicity let’s use 8:00 AM as our starting point.
Quarter 1: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Hardest Thing)
8:00 to 9:00 – take some time to wake up and get ready for the day. I’ve found that my will power peaks around an hour after I get up, so I take advantage of this. Try doing my morning routine for zen-like focus and success.
9:01 to 12:00 – knock out your most important and hardest task. If you have more than one, then do both.
Quarter 2: 12:01 PM – 4:00 PM (Moderate Effort)
12:01 to 1:00 – maybe take some time to grab lunch as a way to take a break from the first 4 hours of knocking out your hardest task.
1:01 to 2:30 – get some phone calls done, knock out that presentation that’s due tomorrow.
2:31 to 4:00 – send out several important emails to your boss, co-workers, and maybe a business partner.
Quarter 3: 4:01 PM – 8:00 PM (Winding Down)
4:01 to 5:30 – knock out some of the less important, less urgent tasks. Maybe order some stuff online or go grocery shopping.
5:31 to 6:30 – have dinner with some friends or a significant other
6:31 to 8:00 – hit the gym, start to wind down for the day. If you have a significant other, or girls you’re fucking, try to get them to go to the gym with you. It’s a great way to get some motivation, but also improve yourselves together.
Quarter 4: 8:01 PM – 12:00 AM (Pleasure/Reward)
8:01 to 10:30 – do something fun! go out to a bar and have a drink with friends, go see a movie, go to a martial arts class, check out the latest restaurant or nightclub.
10:31 – 12:00 – start to wind down for the night and ease your mind. I prefer to read a high quality book while sipping on some tea. This is a great way to get some knowledge in while also winding down before you go to bed.
When I first implemented this strategy, I was anxious because I didn’t feel as productive. In reality, however, I was 10x more productive—I just didn’t “feel” like it.
I didn’t feel like it, because I wasn’t checking my email 50 god damn times a day and filling my life with busy work and menial tasks. Learn to tell the difference between feeling productive and actually being productive.
You might also feel some resistance upon using this strategy, because you’ll be out having fun. Don’t worry about this—don’t feel guilty for having fun.
You don’t need to hustle 24/7 to accomplish great things. Obviously you need to work your ass off, and sometimes you do need to have an immersion period (one of my 6 Major Lessons) for a few months, but it isn’t sustainable.
If you want to live a productive, happy, and fulfilling life, you must do things that you enjoy!
In the West we often look down on this type of behavior—we have a very uptight culture that is focused on “grinding” and being a cog in the machine for your whole life. This is stupid. Having fun is a normal, functional part of a healthy lifestyle, and you should be doing it too.
That’s why the fourth quarter is key to implementing this strategy—if you don’t have fun at the end, you’ll be exhausted and worn out within a few weeks.
But by having fun at the end of your day, you’re giving yourself a reward.
This makes it infinitely easier to be productive and exert will power towards knocking out very difficult tasks.
3. Utilize Pareto’s Law
I was first introduced to this law in a book called The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. It is definitely a must-read for any man trying to manage his time more effectively.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Pareto’s law is basically the following: 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts.
In other words, there’s a small number of things that have a huge impact. Just getting a few critical tasks done each day can have a profound impact in transforming your life.
The flip side of this is that 20% of your results come from 80% of your efforts, however—and unfortunately, most people focus on the 80%. They do low-impact, busy work, like emailing back and forth 10 times a day, rather than doing what’s most effective.
If you learn to focus on the 20% that actually gets you the most results, your life will literally improve by leaps and bounds almost instantly.
Application in Work
If you’re any sort of independent contractor or consultant, you’ll often find that the vast majority of your profits come from a small number of clients. Most of your clients only pay small sums of money—and a lot of them bitch and moan and are just difficult to work with in general.
Get rid of the annoying, time-wasting clients, and keep the clients that give you 80% of your revenue.
It might be difficult to do this at first, because you’re giving up on profit, but let me ask you a question: would you rather save 5 hours of headaches every single day, or get that little bit of extra profit? I’d take the free time any day—and you can use this free time to make even more profit by finding more good clients or doubling down on existing ones.
If you don’t work for yourself, this is fine—you can still apply this law in any sort of job situation. For example: maybe you have to do a bunch of menial, trivial tasks every day, but have a huge project to work on each week.
Focus 80% of your effort on the huge project and make it amazing.
This will make you stand out and way more likely to get promoted. Focus just enough energy necessary to get the tasks done, but don’t worry about perfecting them—they’re trivial and nobody will notice if they aren’t 100% perfect.
Application in Game/Dating
You’ll often find that 80% of the amazing sex and deep connections that you have comes from only 20% of the women you’re with. Unfortunately, most women that you end up pursuing will either flake on you, ignore you, or waste your time.
So stop wasting your time with the bitchy, flaky women—focus your efforts on the women who actually care about you and want to spend time with you.
If you don’t have that many women in your life, this is fine too—you can still apply the law. How do you think you’ll be able to meet the most women? And where? How does knowledge fit into this?
Here is the key: apply 80% of your time going out to clubs, bars, social events, etc. and 20% of your time learning about game.
The mistake that a lot of newbies make is that they spend 80% of their time watching YouTube videos and reading articles on game, but barely spend any time actually applying it. You have to apply it if you want it to work.
This is known as the Law of Use, which I have written about before—the highest leverage point for ANYTHING, is always in application. The most effective 20% is the effort you put into changing something, not in the effort you put into learning something.
Application in the Gym
You’ll often find that most of your results come from just a few simple, basic exercises. You don’t need to do intricate, 4 hour a day routines if you want to look good. Just knowing a few key, high-impact exercises will give you 90% of the results.
In fact, this is how I designed Body of an Alpha—it’s meant to get you an amazing, shredded physique, with minimal effort. I don’t enjoy spending 3 hours a day in the gym, and nobody else does (unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Obviously the extra effort will still have an impact and make you look better, but you’re putting in 80% more work for just 20% more results. Do you really want to put in an extra 15 hours a week just to have slightly more defined arms?
Stick with the basics, because this will give you most of the results. Focus on a compound lift based routine, and add in some key auxiliary exercises to work your biceps and triceps. This should be more than enough.
Exceptions to Pareto’s Law
There are some situations where you want to put in the extra 80% worth of effort to get only 20% more results, and it’s important to distinguish when this is the case. Most of the time, this will be whenever you’re competing at a very high level.
For example, if you’re a fitness model or bodybuilder, you absolutely need to put in the extra 80% of effort. Your competitors sure as fuck will, so if you want to stand a chance you need to put in as much effort as possible. You’re going to need to put in the extra effort to count your calories, spend hours and hours at the gym, and fine tune your workouts to hit every single muscle in your body.
Or maybe you’re trying to become a consultant for large firms. You’re going to have to be at the very cutting edge of your niche if you want to stand a chance at beating out your competitors. You’ll have to spend HOURS doing research and improving your craft, well beyond the most efficient 20%.
Generally speaking, anytime you need to operate at an elite level, you’ll need to neglect Pareto’s law.
But even then, you can still use it in other areas of your life. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you always have to apply this law to every area of your life, because you don’t. Just apply it where you want to apply it.
4. Use Feedback Analysis
Feedback analysis comes in many different forms, but I was first exposed to this concept in a tiny little book known as Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker (the world renowned management expert).
The basic concept is that you predict how far you’ll get in a particular undertaking over the next year, and then you go back and see how far you actually got.
This will let you know where your weaknesses are. If you over-estimated how far you’d get, go back and figure out why, so that you can isolate the element that led to your failure. I could write a whole article about this concept, but I’m going to apply it to scheduling your daily life.
This is what I do:
Write down at least 1 important task every day
Write down a few urgent tasks every day
Prioritize them (with the important task being #1)
If I don’t get all of the tasks done that day (I stop once I hit the 4th quarter), I draw an arrow over to the next day
This way, I can look back and see if I’m over-working myself or under-working myself depending on the number of arrows (times that I can’t finish my tasks in the same day).
If there’s very few arrows, chances are I can add some more tasks into my life here and there. If there’s a ton of arrows, then I need to relax a little bit more.
Every 3-4 months, look back at your planner and do this. See how often you’re having to push back tasks, because you don’t have enough time in one day to get them done.
This will let you know a lot about your life—can you not get them done because you’re too busy? Are you wasting time watching Netflix or browsing Facebook? Knowledge is power, and the more that you can discern about your planning habits, the better.
Summary: How to Be More Productive
I realize that this may be overwhelming, but just try to take it one step at a time. If you don’t have a planner, then buy the one that I recommend. Start taking baby steps towards organizing your day, because if you don’t organize your own day then I guarantee you somebody else will.
Self-improvement is a long and arduous journey, but nothing worthwhile in life comes easy.
Using these strategies that I’ve presented you with will give you productivity and success in all areas of your life. The keys are in your hands, now it’s up to you to decide if you want to use them or not.
As always, if you guys have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to let me know below. In fact, why don’t you answer two questions either by yourself or in the comments section below:
Where’s an area of my life that I’ve been focusing on the 80% that doesn’t matter?
What productivity techniques will I start using TOMORROW in order to improve my life?