Productivity is defined as producing a significant amount of work. But is this definition associated with your understanding of what productivity means? In my mind productivity is linked to efficiency and intelligence with the way I work, but this official definition does not hold a bias towards that notion. If we stick to the original definition, we would need to question, why are we so obsessed with producing a significant amount of work? One answer could be that society has forced us to be more aggressive with producing quality faster and therefore it calls us to be more productive. Others may argue it is a behavioural human development triggered by our instinct to want to do more. In this article, I will highlight what it takes to be productive in a fast-paced world that is heavily dependent upon the idea that gadgets and gizmos will make you more productive. The truth is, you make yourself more productive, so we will start there.


1. Define your reason why

When you are clear about your reason why i.e. the core reason behind why you are doing something, then it is easier to mobilize yourself to do things. No tool will help you if you don’t have a deep-rooted desire or motivation to overcome the flow of life and steer it towards your aims and goals. Think about what your primary aims are in life and define your deep-rooted desires so you have a clear understanding of what motivates your intentions, actions and habits.


2. Train your habits

This can only be done when you learn to overcome your emotional states. In order to do this your mantra should be “I am going to do this long after the initial feeling has gone.” The ability to make real decisions and commit to a cause is what will set you apart from your counterparts, and allow you to take action on your goals. Developing habits can only come from self-awareness, and understanding of a process that you need to adopt in order for you to succeed. From there, you can decipher, research or define what habits are required to achieve your goals.


3. Create your environment

Your environment comes in many different forms and you must see yourself as the creator of it. You are responsible for being the buffer to your micro and macro-environments in order for you to adopt the right mindset for success. This means making sure you do the following:

  • Hang around with appropriate people – Friends and family may be nice but if they don’t serve your principles or long-term vision, they need to be placed in the reserve section
  • Meet people on specific days – When you learn to meet people on specific days only, you have so much more time and freedom to do the personal projects you want to do, It’s actually revolutionary. Pick 1 – 2 days dedicated to meeting people; any other day should for you and you only
  • Become an avid audible listener – Listening to audiobooks on the way to and from work, and at any given opportunity, is a gamechanger. The amount of knowledge you can get from listening to books is life-saving. Pick a topic you want to learn or be versed in, and buy audiobooks that give you knowledge in that area. Audible have various packages that enable you to listen to as many books as you like at a good price. Check out this link for their pricing plans
  • Declutter your phone – Get rid of unnecessary apps, media, and contacts on your phone so you can get less distracted in a very distracted world. Turn off all social media notifications, and check these platforms at specific times of the day, or when you like. Sooner or later you’ll want to check your phone less because a notification is not triggering the need for a dopamine release.


4. Learn to say NO

Master saying NO with confidence. If you want to say no for no’s sake then do it. But listen, the principle behind this is to get to a place where you can take control of doing the things you want to do. You can only truly know that when you do the following above and do it well. There were times where I got involved in stuff and even though I wanted to get involved, I was taking on too much, which hindered the eventual plan. Get comfortable with saying know, especially if you are aware of the bigger picture.


5. Stick to Systems, Processes, and Methods

Everything you do should be systemized. Learn to document and record your actions and progress. It will serve you in the future for many things and here are some examples:

  • You can sell your organized ideas as Intellectual Property
  • You can create a guide for freelancers or staff
  • It creates clarity about what you do
  • It serves as a reference point of actions and can be easily repeatable

Systems work. When you learn to adopt systems, life becomes easier. Life doesn’t have to necessarily feel mechanic but there needs to be a rhythm that you are familiar with, or is proven to work so that you can be successful in your endeavours.


6. Rely on your calendar

Schedule everything! Have your plan set out for the week in your calendar. There will be things that require rigidity and there will be things that will be flexible. Your mission is to create a calendar that serves your basic needs to deliver results for your life goals. You may not get the timing right at the beginning but experiment with the timing until you get it right and then stick to it. You may want to share parts or all of your calendar with someone, as a form of accountability. If you do have events or meetings with people, add their email to the invite so it keeps you both accountable. This is the secret to a lot of people’s success.


7. Use a cloud-based notepad

Use Evernote or Google Keep to store your notes, quick thoughts and ideas. It is a great way to organize your ideas and refer back to them later. The best thing to do is tag them in logical categories so you can easily come back to them or find them again. This helped me over the years, and I have been able to retrieve stuff from years back all because of this system.


8. Use cloud-based programmes

This is ultra useful for many projects as it allows you to share, collaborate and edit documents in a fast and effective way. This could be via applications like Slack, OneDrive or Google Drive where things can be easily shared and communicated. The biggest thing about doing this is that you can sync with many different mobile devices.


9. Have an accountability partner

This one will skyrocket your results. When you have the right person who keeps you accountable for your actions, you will perform well. The motivation, pressure and passion of that other person’s presence will make you perform well. Find a suitable person to work with, and make each other accountable to your goals. Speak weekly or bi-weekly for an hour 30-90 mins covering how you can be more effective with your work.


Notice I didn’t focus on the latest apps. They work when you do, and these 9 things aim at harnessing principles that are truly effective for productivity and positioning you for success. Good luck in your endeavours, and share below how you stay productive!