I’ll NEVER finish everything.
It’s decision time yet again…
Do I pull another all-nighter and hope I can still do my job tomorrow…
Or apologize to everyone and hope I still have one?
Is the scenario above familiar to you?
Worse still, is it you the night before every big project?
If so, read on.
If not, read on anyway. Even if you’re already hyperproductive, check out today’s special guest. He’ll make you UBERproductive.
How? With 5 hacks to help you get shit done.
My friend Thomas Frank is a productivity expert. I recently flew him out to my Menfluential conference to share his mind-blowing insights.
If you’re looking to improve your productivity, your study habits, your sleep, or your nutrition, Thomas is your man. He’s done a lot of research on productivity so you don’t have to. Check out Thomas Frank’s YouTube channel here.
For this article, I’ve asked Thomas to give us his top 5 secrets. You may have heard of this first one. Do you know HOW it tricks your brain into enjoying work?
#1. The Pomodoro Technique
Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. No actual tomatoes were harmed in the making of this technique. It was created by an Italian student with a tomato-shaped oven timer.
How does it work? Set a timer and give yourself a short block of time to work – like a sprint in the programming world. This artificial time limit is called a pomodoro. The classic setup is as follows:
- 4x 25-minute pomodoros
- 5-minute short breaks in between
- 15-20 minute long break at the end
This is just a guideline. You can have anything from giant beefsteak pomodoros to tiny cherry pomodoros.
Thomas uses the Pomodoro Technique to get writing done every single day. He sets 25 minutes and he usually ends up working for longer. Why?
‘Work for 25 minutes’ is an input-based goal: just work for that amount of time. An output-based goal might be ‘write this article’.
You’ve got to have output-based goals but they can be daunting. How long will it take me to write this article? What if it takes ages? I don’t WANNA write this WHOLE article… but sure, I’ll work for 25 minutes.
See how that works? I know for me when I get something started – boom! Magic happens. I get into a groove. You can too.
Before you started, there was that resistance. You didn’t want to do it. But once you started and got into it you didn’t want to stop. Nothing motivates like actually getting something done, which brings us to productivity hack #2.
#2. Eat The Frog
No frogs were harmed in the creation of this productivity hack. Imagine if you had to eat a live frog that was trying to wriggle out of your mouth. Sounds like the WORST – right?
Do tasks on your to-do list ever make you feel like that? I thought so.
Eating the frog means you eat those tasks for breakfast. Ask yourself, “What am I avoiding? What do I really not want to do?” Be honest with your answers, and do those tasks FIRST.
I find it easier to be honest with myself when I make my to-do list at night. I put the hardest task first so it’s right there when I wake up. And if you wake up and hate that guy from last night who gave you this slimy frog to eat, go back to technique #1 and apply that as well.
That’s how Thomas orders his day. Writing is the hardest thing he does. So he does it FIRST thing – even before his workout. He’ll go to the coffee shop, write his pomodoro – which might be 25 minutes or an hour – then go work out, then do everything else.
I don’t always put the hardest task first. Sometimes I prioritize whatever’s going to bring me the biggest return. If I film a video first thing, I feel great for the rest of the day. If I put it off till the end of the day I feel pressured.
This approach also helps you avoid feeling artificially accomplished. You start by ticking all the easy tasks off your list and think you’ve done enough for the day. But you haven’t done a single IMPORTANT thing. Eat the frog and do those things first.
#3. Pick Three Things
If you’ve got a huge list of tasks for the entire week, it can be overwhelming to look at on a daily basis. So pare it down. Pick three items from it and make a daily task list to look at instead.
Still too much? Pick just one thing then. If you get that item done, you can add more.
I recommend doing this the night before, like I do with my clothing. At Menfluential I did this with all my outfits. I woke up knowing exactly what I was going to wear and it was already laid out.
You can apply the ‘pick three things’ principle to anything. Let’s say you want to improve your style and you’re starting from ground zero. Suits, shoes, ties, pocket squares, watches… it’s overwhelming!
So start with just three things. Start with just one, if you wish. Get a single essential item, perhaps a nice sports coat. That’s all you need to worry about.
#4. Clear Your Work Space to Neutral
The idea here is: once you’re done with your work, clear your work space back to its completely neutral state. A lot of chefs call this mise en place, which means ‘everything in its place’. They do this before they start cooking and after they finish.
Put everything away and clean everything up. When you come back the next day there’s nothing to stop you from simply starting the work. There’s no resistance because there’s no mess.
This applies to style too. Shine your shoes at the END of the day so you don’t need to worry about it during your hurried morning. Iron shirts before you need them. Fold your laundry right after it’s dry. Simple decisions like this make a big difference in productivity.
#5. The 20-Second Rule
Getting started takes energy – activation energy. If you want to do something more often, reduce the activation energy it requires.
How? With The 20-Second Rule.
Make it take less than 20 seconds to get into the task at hand. Thomas uses this rule to practice the guitar. He keeps the guitar on a stand next to his chair and when he walks into the living room he can grab it in 3 seconds. Result: he plays much more often.
I use it to get up and work out at 5 am on a freezing winter morning in Wisconsin. To make sure it happened, I would sometimes sleep in my workout clothes. If I’ve just got my shorts on and I leave the shirt under the covers at the base of the bed so it’s nice and warm, I can get dressed under the covers and then get out.
These hacks are powerful, especially if you apply them together. But don’t try to do ALL of them at once. Start small. Gradually work them in. You’ll be on fire before you know it.
Thomas is a great guy who gave one of the best presentations at this year’s Menfluential. His channel will make you feel like you have super speed. Check out Thomas Frank’s YouTube channel here.
I’m also going to link to Menfluential because I can tell you that this event is life-changing. We’re already close to selling out for 2019. Click here to see if we still have any tickets left.