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  • Writer's pictureBeatka Wójciak

The ultimate productivity hacks

Updated: May 13, 2023

We live in a world where productivity hacks and productivity coaches are super trendy. We’re told to use time blocking in our calendars to optimise every minute we have in a day, learn about the latest and greatest task management system, track every part of our lives and even optimise how we sleep.

Person wearing a jumper writing in a journal while drinking coffee and eating a croissant

But why?

What I feel is consistently missing in all these systems is asking why do you have to do so much? Is “optimal life” really the one where every waking moment of your day is planned, tracked and accounted for?

What is it that you’re trying to actually achieve? What is important to you?

I feel that more often than not keeping a busy schedule is a way to avoid having to ask these questions. I get it, they are uncomfortable. They are difficult to answer. But at the same time, they are the key to understanding what your focus should be and why.

Most things you think you have to or need to do are not in fact worth doing. They bring very little joy - as Marie Kondo would put it - while at the same time giving you little to no benefit.

And even when you have your why remember that

You’re not a machine

It’s easy to forget this sometimes, when you have a thousand things to do in a week. At the same time, this is probably the most important thing to remember, and what should drive your decisions.

You can’t perform the same way every day, because you won’t feel the same every day. Expecting yourself to maintain a consistently high level of performance is a pipe dream and only leads to burnout.

Don’t listen to the hustlers telling you otherwise - they don’t tell you how draining working all the time actually is. Sure, you might be able to do it for a few weeks, maybe even months. But at the end of the day, you’re going to pay a very high price for it.

Your health and relationships will suffer and these are consistently found to be the best predictor of happiness in life. What’s the point of a great career if you have nobody to celebrate your successes with? What’s the point of being rich and having it all, when your body no longer allows you to enjoy any of life's pleasures?

There is another way

It’s much more sustainable to listen to your body, understand how it works, when are your good and bad days. It’s particularly important if you have a medical condition. Obviously, as with all things worth doing, it’s not easy to work out your own patterns (which might also change over time, making it trickier still).

I’d argue it’s still worth trying. Instead of planning your day, plan what you want to accomplish throughout the week, or even month. When you anticipate a period where it might be more difficult to get productive (because of birthdays, family visits, menstruation), plan to do less then. There’s no point trying to push through things. Plan to do more on the good days, but don’t overexert yourself either. It’s not worth it.

Take breaks when you need them, even if you planned to do something else. You can get back to it later, when you have more energy - you’ll be able to finish it more efficiently when you’re rested anyway.

You’ll get it wrong a lot of times, but that’s ok, you’ll do better next time. The more you understand yourself the easier it becomes.

And for the love of cod, don’t bash yourself for not being productive or being behind - if you’re really honest with yourself, has it ever actually worked? Have you ever done a lot of great work when trying to push through on a day when you just wanted to nap and snack?

Lower productivity sustained over long periods of time is much better than grinding yourself to the ground. Remember that a light that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

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