This One Productivity Hack Will Help You Get Sh*t Done
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tsu
Do you struggle with how to be more productive? Do you wish the fun things to do were also the easiest to do? Well, you’re not alone and the fix can be very liberating.
Take Stock Before Deciding on a Change
I’m sure this quote from Lao Tsu has come across your news feed a time or two before. You’d probably look at something like this and think it’s a cool saying and probably means some good shit. Then move on. Even thousands of years ago, people seemed to have trouble getting things done that needed to be done. The fact that this quote was penned at all is testament to that. Our autopilot caveman brain (limbic system) doesn’t know how to be more productive. Human nature is designed to sometimes get us to do what’s not in our best interest. And it’ll get us these things in the easiest way possible. Eating that drive thru cheeseburger is obviously not in our best interests (long term at least). Our nature thinks otherwise, though, by giving us all sorts of pleasure hormones from eating it. I won’t get into the reasons why just now, but it’s pretty crafty.
The Life Hack of Increased Productivity
The number one idea I’ve come across for how to be more productive is something I like to call Scooby Snacks. (credit Tim Ferris for mentioning these on a podcast. Tim referenced the snacks in a different context, but credit nonetheless).
If you remember a time before the internet, then you probably know Scooby Doo and his Scooby Snacks. I urge you to read this article about the gang for some good laughs if you’re too young or haven’t had the pleasure to watch the children’s cartoon. Shaggy (Scoob’s best pal) tosses Scooby a dog treat…a Scooby Snack. I don’t know if these were made of caffeine,
cocaine, or some form of Nootropic discovered by Russian scientists in the 70’s. Whatever it was, Scooby became a superhero who could always find the way to save the day. It was simply amazing.
The Nightly Set-Up
How to be more productive throughout the day all starts with the night before. Heck, even if there is only one takeaway you grab from this, you’ll make big changes with this one. Make a list. What’s that? You’re not a list kinda person? You like to live with no constraints and all the freedom in the world? How’s that working for ya so far, buttercup? Give this a try for 7 days and see how much more freedom you gain.
On top a sheet of paper, write Scooby Snacks. This will be Part A. Here you’re going to have your small to medium tasks that take little effort and can be completed from start to finish. Things like emptying the dishwasher first thing in the morning, doing 10 pushups while the coffee is brewing (read Hack Your Fitness for more on the power of this), changing the garbage bag. Add whatever you might think will work in your life. Get creative. Look for things around your home or office that you wouldn’t have thought of as a to-do list item. Add some easy items to get the ball rolling. Set yourself up with some gimmies. We want to check boxes on a list, not to paint the whole house today. One thing you’ll notice after just a few days is that a lot of the clutter in your home, work space, and also your mind will have been taken care of and put to bed.
Old Habits Die Hard (With A Vengance)
The idea behind this goes way back to what Lao Tzu was saying. The journey’s first, single step. You’re literally implanting your day with as many small, single steps as you can find. Task began, task complete, task checked off the list. The check off is super important. The visual cue of checking off an item will flood your brain with endorphins and happy hormones which will have a compound effect on the rest of your list. Now your productivity wheel is in full motion.
Of course, you’ll still have to work toward getting the bigger items checked off. These are the must do’s and can’t be overlooked because you were too busy with the smaller things. These will go in the lower half of the page, Part B. Stuff like cleaning the garage, get my tax receipts all in order, research for a new blog post, etc.
Scooby Snacks are best used during those times when, for whatever reason, you can’t do any work on the bigger item you were working on. Also for times when you are having a mental block on a problem or things don’t seem to be going your way. Stop, recalibrate, grab yourself a quick Scooby Snack item to do and check it off. Feeling refreshed and a small, but powerful, sense of accomplishment may be all that’s needed to attack that other big project issue head on again.
Some of these Scooby Snacks will end up being part of your daily routine and you actually might look forward to doing them. The mental reinforcement of accomplishing something, even as simple as making your bed, will become a foundational block of your day. This one, simple life hack will ripple effect into all facets of your life.