4 Scientifically Proven Ways to Lead a Productive Life

Productivity

What differentiates high achieving individuals from regular people?

Why are some people so good at what they do that they impact the world in meaningful ways?

How are some people able to get things done while others aren’t?

Here’s what science says about the most productive people:

Adopt a habit of consistency

Consistency is defined as ‘conformity in the application of something.’ In other words, being consistent means sticking with it.  Individuals who have a habit of consistency are, unsurprisingly, capable of adopting new habits and replacing bad ones easily compared with those who lack a sense of consistency.

In many ways, a habit of consistency is at the heart of attaining anything you set out to achieve.  Whether you achieve your goals really depends on your ability to stick it out.

Author of the bestselling book, The Happiness Advantage, and Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor suggests that to adopt a habit of consistency with anything you set out to accomplish, simply lower the ‘activation energy’ or the amount of energy required to start.

For example, if you want to be consistent with your writing, make the first 20 seconds of each writing session really easy to start. Perhaps you could leave your workstation organized, have your computer charged, or create an outline the night before on what you want to write about the next day. I use this strategy for going to the gym. I go every morning at 6.30am. I’ll always make sure I have everything packed and ready the night before to make it easy to just get ready and leave immediately.

Just do It

think3Drawing from stacks of anecdotal research, authors of the Confidence Code, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman describe the power of ‘doing’ and how this boosts your confidence level.

Not doing anything will obviously not bring you the desired results. But more importantly, it will make you less and less confident. In turn, low confidence results to inaction—it is a vicious circle.

Want to be more successful? Start doing; start taking even the smallest of steps and you will progressively build your courage to take on greater tasks.

Don’t follow your passion, sharpen your skill

There’s a lot of well-meaning advice about following your passion so you can live a happier, more successful and more productive life.

However, just following your passion and going with the flow can have a downside. It can stagnate you or put you on a plateau, which will in turn cause you to feel uninspired and unchallenged in the long term.

The opposite of just following your passion is setting challenges for yourself so you can improve on your skills.

Cal Newport, author of several books and a professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University has extensively researched on the topic of how to increase productivity and become an expert. He found that the people who live a meaningful and productive life are those who are keen on developing their skills and then using these skills to take control of their personal and working life.

Manage your mood

persThe most productive people are naturally in control not only of their lives but also of their day. Studies have shown that people tend to work harder and accomplish more when they are happier and they tend to procrastinate more when they are in a bad mood.

A randomized study by Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick showed that when people are in a good mood they work more efficiently and increase their pace over time without compromising on quality.

In the study, which involved 700 participants and four experiments, participants who were shown comedies, served drinks, fruit and chocolate and later examined for levels of productivity performed better than those who were interviewed and asked about personal tragedies and hardships.

Set up a personal system or a morning routine that eliminates as much distraction and promotes mindfulness. This is a great first step in ensuring you start each day on the right foot and that you perform at an optimum level throughout the day.

Productivity Tips

One might summarize the science of productivity as such: take action, make it easy to adapt new habits, develop your skill consistently and formulate a routine that will allow you to start your day on a high note.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Andrew.

    Very interesting, especially the mood management section. Funny I should read about it today, because actually I am in a pretty low mood. I wanted to finish up a blog post today, but I have not got the enthusiasm or mental energy present to do so.

    It’s right what the study says I think – being consistent and planning a routine does help. Tomorrow, i’ll be going for a 5 mile run. When i get back and showered, I’ll be sharp as a knife and my mood will be top of the world. And I’ll get things done, no problem. Today though, I woke up grumpy due to various things, didn’t do my routine and that is why today I have spent most of it reading articles and dropping a few comments here and there.

    Good read Andrew.

    • Hi there Richard, sorry, totally missed your comment!

      Consistency and routine are huge and its often harder to manage when you are either an individual business owner or have a job that let’s you manage your own time. I’ve struggled with sticking to routine in the past. But, I’ve managed to find that balance. Some days I think, you just have to accept that things aren’t always going to go exactly to plan, but then onwards and upwards to the next day. Thanks for checking it out, appreciate it!

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