productivity tips

5 Steps to Doubling Your Productivity

Ever wonder how you can double the amount of work you can get done in the same amount of time with just a few simple steps?

The problem is, we are conditioned against productivity. We are designed to not be able to focus.

So it’s not entirely your fault if you have been struggling to get things done, it’s evolutions.

But, there is hope. What if in just 5 steps you could build your focus and productivity muscles to be bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps, well, his old biceps from back in his Mr. Olympia days?

What if in one hour you could finish what used to take you a day?

The promise is that, if you repeatedly follow these 5 steps, you will win the battle over your evolutionary conditioning and double your productivity.

First I want to tell you a little about the enemy: the natural state of your mind.

Your mind is chaos

In the bestselling book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, after decades of research Mihaly Csikszentmihaly found that “contrary to what we tend to assume, the normal state of the mind is chaos.”

In the time that it took you to read this post so far, the region of your brain associated with consciousness and focus has radically shifted from what it was before you found your way to this page.

Brain researchers Dr. Cunningham and Zelazo discovered that this region of the brain is updated five to eight times a second. Neuroscientist, Dr. Hanson says that “this neurological instability underlies all states of mind.”

What this means is that we are conditioned not to focus on one thing at at time.

How to defeat evolution in 5 steps

Like anything in life though, all it takes is practice and repetition to achieve mastery over your evolutionary flaws.

Researchers have shown that until the very end of our lives, our brain is malleable. It can be molded to suit our desired lifestyle. Like any other muscle, it gets stronger when worked out. But it’s up to us to make the effort and hit the gym.

These 5 steps are the dumbbells you need to strengthen your brain.

1. Practice Awareness

Throughout your day, whether you are watching TV, walking to the train or working on your computer, simply become aware of what your body is doing. Notice whether your legs are crossed, become aware of your feet hitting the pavement as you walk, without changing what your body is doing, just train your mind to become aware of your body and your environment.

This exercise makes your conscious mind a more active part of your life as opposed to you going about your day on autopilot.

2.  Focus your mind

As you start building your awareness muscles, the next step is to direct your brain to go where you want it to go.

In his research. Dr. Andrew Newberg scanned the brains of praying nuns, chanting Sikhs and meditating Buddhists and noticed that they had greater activity in the areas of the brain associated with focus than those that do not practice any kind of meditation. He also found that after just 8 weeks, practicing some form of meditation improved focus and memory for a group of elderly people experiencing problems with their memory.

Starting today, spend at least 10 minutes every day in silence with no distractions and focus your mind on your breathing. Close your eyes, breathe in for four seconds and breathe out for four seconds. If your mind wanders, it’s okay. That is natural at first. When that happens, notice where your mind goes and bring it back to your breathing.

The four breaths in and four breaths out acts like an anchor for you to direct your brain toward.

3. Assign labels to your states of mind

Dr Lieberman, a researcher at UCLA, found that the act of labeling emotions increases activity in the conscious parts of the brain related to focus and awareness, while decreasing activity in the emotional brain.

Throughout the day, at least once every hour, assign a label to your emotion. Simply give a name to your state of being. This separates you from your emotional brain and gives more power to your conscious brain.

4. Set preemptive strikes

Psychologists Peter Gollwitzer and Veronika Brand-statter took a group of elderly patients recovering from hip or knee replacement surgery and split them into two groups with separate instructions. One group was told to write down exactly when and where they would take a bath or go for a walk. The other group was just encouraged to do the same at their leisure.

The patients that used preemptive strikes were taking a bath by themselves in 3 weeks, while the other group took 7 weeks. The preemptive strike group was standing up in 3.5 weeks, while the other group took 7.7.

Whatever you want to get done, write down and plan exactly when you will do it and how long you will take to do it. Setting these preemptive strikes will give your mind clear directions and prevent the chaotic mind from sabotaging your success.

5. Chunk your time using a trigger

I am sure you know by now that multitasking is not an efficient method for getting things done. It only contributes to the already chaotic mind.

To double your productivity, chunk your time into one hour blocks and do only one thing in that hour. What I like to do to is hit start on a timer at the beginning of each hour shift. Hitting the start button acts like a trigger that tells my brain it’s time to work. This puts me in a focused state and I find that I get a lot more done when I hit a start button than when I don’t.

After every hour take a short 10 minute break. This will give your brain the recovery time it needs and ensure that when you are in “getting things done mode,” you actually get things done.

That’s it. Five steps practiced over time and you will double your productivity.

In the comments below, share one challenge you are experiencing with productivity and one tip that others can benefit from.

Akshay Nanavati is a Marine Corps veteran of the war in Iraq, an adventurer and a business productivity coach that reads over a book a week on the psychology of mastery to help his clients start and grow a business in the shortest amount of time.

Download the “Life Mastery Blueprint” if you would like to learn more about how to develop an unstoppable mindset, master the psychology of success and grow a business so that you can live life on your terms.

  • alia

    This is an amazing article, very helpful and ‘awakening’!

    • Akshay Nanavati

      Thanks Alia. Really happy to hear you got so much value from it

  • Ram

    Really Good one. Many thanks to the author

    • Akshay Nanavati

      Awesome! Glad you liked it Ram

  • http://www.suzieqsolutions.com/ Suzanne Jones

    For me specifically, writing down a to do list works wonders. I am by far much more effective. Specifying times works wonders as well. Chunking is perfect for a lot of reasons. For parents who need to get things done, they can allow themselves that allotted time while assuring the kids will have their time, too.
    Great post!

    • Akshay Nanavati

      Totally agree with you Suzanne. Lists are extremely useful. Thanks for sharing your suggestions here. Loved your site by the way. I am very fascinated by hypnotherapy. I look forward to checking out more of your content.

      • http://www.suzieqsolutions.com/ Suzanne Jones

        Thank you, Akshay :)

  • http://www.itsfinallydone.com/ It’s Finally Done!

    Nice article. I like how you stressed that it’s important to give yourself a break every hour. I personally wrote a break timer app for this purpose and will give it to you or anyone else that contacts me for free.

  • Adam

    Great article i have been reading about awareness, focus and concentration skills lately. I would appreciate if you can advice a book to develop such skills.. many thanks

    • Akshay Nanavati

      Hi Adam. Sure, a great book that inspired this post is You are not your brain by Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz. Hope that helps.

  • Becky Livingston

    Challenge: lack of clarity around a project
    Tip: treat yourself between focussed work periods (Facebook, chocolate, etc)

  • Josh Emmanuel

    Great article!

    Multitasking is my biggest obstacle! Thinking that doing two or three things at a time is more effective than one. Big mistake – focus is key!

    Finish
    One
    Course
    Until
    Successful!

  • http://simple-easy-life.com/ Bharti

    Splendid. Awesome write :)

  • Green Solution Collective

    This is really helpful! Excellent article. I would practice this. This would help me develop my productivity.

  • http://newinternetorder.com/ Karol K.

    I like the advice on practicing awareness. Although it can be a
    difficult habit to create – to be aware of what happens with your body
    and mind at the moment. I guess chaos really is the default state. :)

  • Lalo

    Focus on your grammar.

  • http://www.relaxfocusenjoy.com/ relaxfocusenjoy

    I agree with #2. Focus is one of the most important stategies to becoming more productive. Great post! Keep on sharing!

  • bunyob

    Shitty article if you ask me. Its nothing more than a rehash of the same psychobabble hogwash i see on psychologytoday and other self development writersl As a matter of fact the idea that you caj improve yourself or motivate yourself to action by reading shit articles like these or watch motivational videos is mental masturbation. Hell i could write an article and it would give me feelings to do something. But what are feelings without action? You jack your brain off and then 29 mins later you are back to the state that you are avoiding-the state of dullneee,laziness,complacency,negativity,anger and impatience. You are still at level 0. Are you on pickthebrain because you want to read something that will make you feel good? Porn,video games,ice cream can do all that already but if you are serious about being productive and doing what needs to get done no matter what the internal or external conditions are then you have to focus and work hard. Only by taking consistent action will you achieve.

    • val

      hater.

    • Wow

      Geez you do not sound like a happy camper. You should be taking any self-development you can get.

  • Dreaming Tree KC

    Simply being aware of the conditioning and re conditions of our entire being is amazing. When a belief system is no longer necessary, it falls away. It’s apparent successful people enjoy this and live in the moment. Akshay’s information is practical, logical, sequential, informational and enjoyable. Akshay choose to share. The choice is appreciated.

  • terredean

    Perfectly written, all these are quite necessary to boost the business. Time tracking is quite necessary for productivity in business.