Monday, February 20, 2012

The 11 Principles of Personal Productivity


The Foundations of Personal Productivity

In the past whenever I wanted to become more effective in my life I always found it difficult to follow the numerous time management tips and advice that was thrown at me. It wasn't as if any of it was bad advice, I just didn't have a solid grasp of the foundations that all this advice was based upon and I didn't understand why I had to do some of the things I was told to do. It wasn't until I looked a bit deeper and developed my own paradigms, mindsets and beliefs about productivity that I really understood what it takes for us to become more efficient. Much of my own development came from Wake Up Productive and I want to discuss the 11 Principles of Productivity that were mentioned on the course. I feel that if you want to get a stronghold on your life and become more productive then it's essential that you follow each of these 11 principles and understand them fully. Once you understand them, you'll see what's been keeping you trapped and how to become more productive in your everyday life.
So let's begin the 11 Principles of Productivity

1. Anyone Can Become Productive & Creative

You may be thinking to yourself that it's impossible to become productive and creative. Perhaps you tried it in the past and it didn't work out or maybe you just don't see yourself as that type of person who can get things done and do your tasks effectively. Well the first principle says that anyone can be productive and creative. It doesn't matter if you've been totally hopeless in your time management, you can get your life together and turn it around if you learn to manage yourself and take the steps to persist in your new change.  The key to becoming productive and creative is all about finding what works for you. What are the optimal conditions you need to put in place to become productive? And similarly what are the conditions you need in place to be creative? If in the past you tried to work in the library and you didn't get any work done, it isn't necessarily because you aren't productive and other people who work at the library are, it's just that perhaps working in the library isn't for you. Becoming productive is all about finding your own unique talents and strengths, and cultivating the conditions and environments that best suit them.

 2. Time Management Doesn't Exist

I know I've already mentioned the concept of 'time management' many times so far, but it's really a term that doesn't make logical sense. The problem is people have taken the word 'time management' literally and have created false perceptions on how to 'manage' their own time. When you realize there isn't such a thing as time management you can become much more productive. Have you noticed that there are some people who are always huffing and puffing stating that they never have enough time? And it's these people who ALWAYS never have enough time no matter how much they try to manage their time? Well it may help if they realize that you can't 'manage time.' There are always 24 hours in one day and no matter how much you manage time, you will never get more time. The only way to become better with your time is not to manage time, but to manage yourself. Changing your own internal beliefs, mindsets and habits is the way to become more productive and get more things done. Don't try to change time, change yourself and you'll see big changes happen.

3. Inner Conflict Causes Friction

Being highly productive and effective typically is a result of our ability to focus on one thing and see the task all the way through until it is completed. When we have all these negative thoughts and emotions flying around our own mind it takes our ability to focus away because we are thinking about so many different things rather than focusing on the task at hand. The lack of focus comes from inner conflict that is happening inside of us where different parts of us want different things. In Wake Up Productive, Eben Pagan talks specifically about the principle of the Triune Brain, which says that over time the human brain has evolved so that it consists of a reptilian brain, a mammal brain and a human brain and when the wants aren't aligned inner friction is caused. The idea here, is that if we want to become better focused we need to address all our inner conflicts so that we can become more productive. We must address our inner core desires and make sure each one is met emotionally, physically and mentally.

4. Habit is Destiny

A lot of us have habits that we've stuck to ever since we were born. You may not even realize you have such a habit but it's our habits which shape who we are and how much we get done on a daily basis. For example if you have always been a late riser when you were young then you're most probably a late riser to this day and it's what you're now known for. Becoming somebody who is productive is all about creating new habits that are effective and productive. With enough time and effort if you create a new positive habit then that new habit is going to become part of who you are in the future. This is why it is so important to create good habits and banish the bad ones.

 5. Internal Chaos Leads to External Chaos

I've described before about the idea of having inner butterflies and how it can trigger massive chaos. Principle 5 is based on the idea that small pieces of confusion inside of you will be reflected with external chaos outside of you. I'm sure you've seen the scatter brained person who has so much confusion and chaos going on inside of their head that everything they seem to be doing on the outside mirrors this chaos. They'll forget to do things, they make mistakes in their work and most of all they'll be running around in circles. With this in mind you cannot learn to manage all the things in your external world until you first manage what's going on in your mind. Always deal with the inner chaos first.

6. Focus Your Talent

Right now, most of us give our attention to too many things that don't matter. We may focus on what we want to watch on TV, what we are going to eat, which friends we are going to see etc. all of this stuff is great but the problem is we give too much of our time thinking about these types of things rather than focusing our attention on our talents and our biggest opportunities. It's important to narrow your focus onto the thing that matters most to you rather than trying to juggle lots of things in your life that don't matter. You need to find your most valuable skill and focus singlehandedly on it, if you'll do that you'll see massive success.

7. The Future can be an Extension of the Past or it can be Something New

Many of us hold onto the past and place too much importance to what has already happened.  We think that what happened in the past defines who we are today and what we are capable of. Personally, I don't believe we should hold onto the past except to remember fond moments or to assess how we've developed positively over time. The people who cling onto the idea that the future will always reflect the past are the one's who find becoming productive most challenging. They believe that since they've never been effective that they will never become effective. It's the people who realize that the future can be something new that can go on and see the most positive changes in their lives. With this mindset, you can tackle any challenge that comes your way.

8. Focus on What You Want Not What You Don't Want

Making sure that you focus on what you want and not what you don't want. When you have a dream or desired state you must focus on what you want, don't let the thought of what you don't want even enter your mind because you will attract that into your life. For example, if your mission is to become more productive in life, don't say to yourself 'I don't want to be lazy' or 'I don't want to be ineffective any more' because what your brain will hear are the words 'lazy' and 'ineffective' and you will become them even more. What you should be focusing is what you want to become, not what you don't want.
Start focusing on what you want instead of what you don't want and you'll find the transitions happen much quicker this way.

9. Choose don't Decide

When thinking about our options that we make in life it's better to think that we are 'choosing' rather than 'deciding.' When we're 'choosing' we subconsciously believe that our life is abundant and that we have many options in our life. On the other hand, most of us think in terms of 'deciding.' Whenever we say we 'have to decide' we are subconsciously giving us the belief that we don't have choice and that we are being forced to do things. Using the word 'decide' also has other negative connotations. The 'cide' in the word 'decide' comes from Latin and literally means to 'cut off.' This same 'cide' is in other negative words such as suicide, homicide and genocide. The next time when you are about to make a relevant choice, remember you are choosing not deciding.

10. Balance Organization & Creativity

This is one tip that has proven to be super beneficial to me. I used to be a guy of strict organization; all I did was use to-do lists and work all the time. In other words I was very organized. What I didn't realize was that this was stumping my creativity. It wasn't until I found a balance between the two that I got much better results in my life and could produce better quality work. For me it was a challenging to balance the two. In fact I used to think that people who were organized were better than people who just go with the flow. The truth is there are valuable components to organization and just letting things happen unplanned. Finding the right balance is essential to remaining happy in your life and becoming more productive. If your trying to be super productive then learn to relax a bit and take time out to do nothing.  Similarly if you always go with the flow you'd benefit with going learning to manage yourself better.

11. You Must Evolve

Becoming productive is all about changing who you are. We've already discussed how you must create new productive habits and that you must change your beliefs about what the future holds for you. None of these changes are easy to make. You have to change your mindset and use willpower to put in place new habits. As humans we don't like change and we are programmed to automatically follow our factory default settings, which is to go back to what is easiest. You must make the commitment that you are going to change your default settings, lose your old ways and evolve into a productive person.


  1. Thanks for these tips!

  2. this is a fabulous post...vey helpful information for day to day living AND the rest of our lives. interesting concept that time management doesn't exist...definitely food for thought!

  3. Your point about habit being destiny really struck at home...I have always been a late riser and to this day I am late for work every single day...

    Wish I could change that though!

  4. Mind bottling.

  5. Evolving is important

  6. I feel more productive after just reading this!