Aim for the first part of your day to be incredible – a focused explosion of productive energy towards your biggest blogging goal.
Sound good? Let’s talk about how.
In part one of this post I talked about the crazy effectiveness of working to your Pomodoro energy cycles of 50/10/50/30, the wonderful freedom a timer gives you, and mixing up emotional, physical and mental energy. Go check it out here: Blogging Productivity 101
I recommend spending a month implementing those techniques before moving on to these next ones!
Today I’m super-excited because the concepts in this second part are even more powerful, and have been life-changing for me. Taken from some of the world’s best courses and teachers on productivity, focus and energy – in my opinion at least – and tested at great length on this human guinea pig of a blogger.
But first, an important word on building habits
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson
True productivity takes new habits – we’re going to be putting lifelong habits of productivity into our lives. With the 50/10/50/30 rule, and everything else below. And it takes a certain strategy and self-awareness to properly implement a new habit.
Every year in January millions of people plunge ahead with their resolutions with no strategy at all, and then give up after a few weeks. Do you have a New Year Resolution?
But there is a way to do it with care and skill, so your new habit sticks! I learned a concept about forming habits that blew my mind from Eben Pagan, let me quickly share it with you;
Habit Gravity and Escape Velocity
Basically, we only have a given amount of willpower every day – and there’s not much of it! Imagine that cup sitting next to your laptop is full of willpower instead of coffee.
That’s all you have for the entire day! Better use it wisely…
We can use that little cup of daily willpower to force ourselves to do one little new action that we might not feel like doing. And the most valuable use off our willpower is forming a new habit. For example, sticking to the 50/110/50/30 routine for one round, or doing some exercise, or planning your day properly, or introducing any of the steps below.
Forming the habit of a new daily action is like a rocket launching into space – 85% of its fuel is used up in the first few seconds, then after that, once it escapes gravity, it starts cruising along and needs very little fuel to keep going. In fact, now it needs fuel to stop moving.
Well a new habit is like a rocket taking off. It takes a lot of willpower for those first 10 or 20 days. For me even the first 40 or 50! But then after that it’s part of us and we like it. It takes very little willpower to maintain for forward momentum, and now it’s time to begin implementing a new habit.
What I’m saying is go easy on yourself.
Begin each daily productivity technique one-by-one, not all at once.
There’s no point focusing on introducing just one habit for 10 days, then switching to another one. Keep at one for 30 or 40 days until you have it and you love it.
So for the first month, focus on working to the 50/10/50/30 rule. Then next month start with the planning techniques, and then the other stages, and so on. Implement these new productivity habits in stages over the next 6 months or year.
Go easy and enjoy the ride.
Right, let’s begin with the productivity strategies – imagine each of these things increasing your productivity by 5% or 10%, and see them stack up!
Firstly, the fun part;
Say Goodbye to ‘To Do Lists’!
I personally hate ‘to do lists’. And finally said goodbye to them when I discovered Tony Robbins’ Life Planner and ‘Chunking’ system of planning my day.
‘To do lists’ just stress us out. Our brains don’t work in lists. They work in smaller, meaningful chunks of information. If you look at a page and see more than about 7 things in a list, it’s naturally stressful. We can’t help it.
Instead, Tony recommends chunking. Divide your life and work-life up into key areas of importance – and write down your actions in each of those areas – you’re breaking it into chunks.
For example; ‘blog, business, family, health… etc.’
The key is to also quickly write down or have clear in your mind what exciting goal each of those chunked areas of life is leading you towards. Your bigger purpose in that area.
So that when you look at your plan for the whole day, you just see a few key areas (the 4 or 5 chunks), which is more mentally relaxing than a big ‘to do list’. And then you can choose to focus on one chunk (one area) and look at the top action to push you towards your goal in that area.
The whole process is quite relaxing and energising each day. I feel like Tony Robbins explains why we think in chunks a little better, check out this video. And I recommend getting hold of Tony’s ‘Rapid Planning Method’ daily planner.
Plan your day the night before
An extra planning tip, whether you start chunking or not, plan your day the night before (even your blog posts). Your unconscious mind can then work away at it, preparing as you sleep. Brian Tracy is a huge proponent of this – using your unconscious mind to do a little work for you.
In a similar way when I write a blog post, I generally try to spend a quick 5 minutes roughly planning it, then put it aside for at least a few hours. So when I begin in earnest my unconscious mind has already began to work it out.
Might sound silly but it helps. Try it!
And of course, sleep well
I won’t go into how to get a proper night’s sleep, but I do recommend making it a priority. A happy, energised, well-rested brain is a productive brain. Check out Steve Pavlina’s guidance: How to Wake Up Feeling Totally Alert and How to Become an Early Riser.
Now, here’s where things gets really powerful;
Give yourself a gift – an incredible morning
The key to being super-productive is really to hit the ground running every morning.
Fire off like a rocket (am I using that metaphor a little too much?) just feeling fantastic and clear-headed without distractions. And keep this going at least until lunch time. Then you can relax into a messier way of working… or just keep on going!
In those first few crucial hours you will get more done than most people in their entire day (or even their entire week!)
So in the morning do something that makes you feel very calm and centred – give yourself some ‘me time’. Even just ten minutes.
Read a book – something educational, meditate (I’m trying with this out now), talk to someone who makes you feel great, learn some Spanish, have a dance, climb onto your roof and bellow ‘Freedom!!’ across the city. Whatever floats your boat.
Perhaps postpone the news…?
Personally, I like to leave the news until after lunch, or never.
I used to be a journalist, and I know all the tricks that TV, internet media and newspapers use to distract you, jack your heartrate up and hopefully fill you with excitement and fear – so you have to keep following the various stories to find out what happens next.
And the adverts you get alongside the news… I don’t think I need to comment on them.
I’m not saying the news is all bad, but what’s the harm in leaving it until after lunch? Just a thought. Read a book on blogging instead 😉
Feed your body – sharpen your mind
A calm, healthy body means a calm, productive mind. And your body and mind need to be fed three things more than all else – air, water and nutrients.
Sorry if this is turning into a bit of a health-advice post. But it really is the most powerful thing you can do to boost your productivity.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath,” Amit Ray.
Let Leo Babauta remind you of the simple power of breathing in this beautiful post: Breathe
The first thing I do when I wake up is drink half a litre of water, and do some deep breathing exercises. It’s a fantastic way to gently ease myself into the waking world. And the half a litre of water rehydrates me after my sleep.
And here’s the big one… sorry but you knew it was coming…
Richard Branson’s NUMBER ONE Secret to Productivity – ‘Exercise!’
“Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away,” – Paul Terry
Oh, sorry. Wrong quote. I meant this one;
“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor,” – Cicero
This probably had the biggest impact on my productivity out of all the steps so far. And billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson swears by morning exercise as the key to his productivity.
Exercising first thing in the morning for 15 or 20 minutes – whether yoga, running, cycling or anything else – gets your blood pumping and truly wakens up your mind.
As a nice bonus, it gets you fit, happy, and makes you need less sleep too!
Eat super-foods before lunch
No wait, I take the last point back. THIS is the step that increased my productivity more than anything else.
This is probably the easiest way to begin eating extremely healthily – just make a deal with yourself to keep it up until lunchtime. It was for me anyway! When your body and mind are fed with the finest of nutrients, your mind will be zinging and your blog posts will show it.
Personally, I’m a Mark Sisson fan and eat 80%-90% paleo. In the morning I have eggs, tomatoes, spring onions, green peppers, nuts, kefir, goji berries, coconut oil, plenty more of nutrient-rich foods, and of course, coffee. And I mix it up from time to time.
Then for my first break at about 10:30 – 11-ish, I have a big old chicken salad.
And I love it!
But whatever your food philosophy is, why not experiment with what you believe to be the healthiest, at least until midday. Your brain and body will thank you for it!
And there you have it
Those are all the techniques of Blogging Productivity 202. But remember – not all at once! Go easy on yourself as you begin (unless you have some incredible reservoirs of willpower that I lack) and introduce just one or two new habits a month.
In 6 months’ time you’ll be a dangerously productive blogging machine!
One last slightly controversial point…
I wasn’t sure whether to include this.
I feel like I’m stepping a little outside the realm of blogging advice here, but it’s honestly the process I went through that gave me a tonne of good results. So I’d be remiss to leave it out!
And forgive me for the slightly ‘woo woo’ part, but it’s real and it’s important. Feel free to ignore it if it’s not your thing.
Blocks in productivity usually come from big things you haven’t dealt with in your life. Perhaps issues causing inner friction, or incomplete communications with important people in your life.
I’d highly recommend working out what these are and taking the plunge to close off the communication and free yourself up. Perhaps it’s apologising to someone, or speaking your mind to someone about something, or getting in touch with an old friend or family member.
It could be anything, but stuff like that lurking about in our minds takes huge amount of energy away from our work and our general enjoyment of life.
And here’s a super-harsh bit of advice (I’m almost cringing to give it!)
Cut off from people who are sapping your energy. Get around people who make you feel fantastic. You know who they are.
Phew, there. I said it.
No need to go overboard with these things either. Perhaps just work out one to deal with each month. You can ask yourself honestly which one’s bugging you right now. Whatever just popped into your head, go deal with that – you can do it. Life is short! Don’t you think?
And there you go, hope you found something of value in this post – and that you can use it to super-charge your productivity. Looking forward to reading your resulting proliferation of awesome posts!
Have a Happy Super-Productive 2015!
And share these tips with all your awesome fans and followers!