Having studied and tested a lot of productivity systems and tools, I’ve found it helpful to group everything under three core pillars:
1. Create and maintain a second brain
- Make sure you have a reliable system for capturing and organising all of your information, tasks, projects and commitments.
- Don’t try and hold any of this in your head, or you’ll forget things and leave open loops which will weigh on your psyche.
- Never put yourself in a position where you have to rely on your memory to make sure that anything get done.
2. Prioritise ruthlessly
- However good your second brain is in improving your efficiency, you won’t achieve anything of value unless you can be sure you’re working on what really matters.
- There’s no point doing things well of they’re the wrong things.
- Use prioritisation tools like the Eisenhower matrix and ‘3 priorities and 3 tasks’ to help you identify what to focus on.
3. Focus on one thing a time
- There’s no such thing as multitasking. When we think we’re multitasking, we’re actually rapidly switching between tasks.
- (The only way we can multitask is when one of the tasks is automatised to such a degree that it requires almost no cognitive effort.)
- Think about how you can easily listen to the radio or a podcast while driving on the open road, but you have to switch it off when you’re trying to find a location in an unfamiliar area.
- Switching tasks carries a heavy cognitive and time penalty. If we can develop the ability to focus on one thing at time, each task will be completed far more efficiently.
The cumulative effect of these three pillars is transformative in terms of output.