If you’re like me, you probably struggle in staying productive;
Sometimes I even have difficulties staying still for a short period of time. In fact, the only real way I’m naturally productive is when I’m obsessed with the thing I’m trying to focus on.
Why is it so hard to stay productive?
Our attention spans are slowly dwindling, and the number of possible distractions is ever increasing. Smartphones have given us the ability to chats with our friends in a hundred different ways, play games at any time, and update our followers every time we do something remotely interesting.
Maybe that’s why, or maybe you just don’t like the tasks you’re trying to accomplish.
The first real step here to becoming a productive beast, before you read any more of this article, is to make sure that the tasks you look to accomplish on a daily basis are important, and interesting, to you.
Scratch that… they MUST light your soul on fire!
How I Became A Productive Beast
Even though I’m incredibly passionate about the work I do and the projects I undertake, I still find it hard to remain productive. Luckily, I have friends who also suffer from this struggle, and they have done their homework.
Since coming back out to Bali, Indonesia, I’ve been spending time with those friends. Their wisdom has rubbed off, and made an enormous difference to the sheer amount of work I’m able to complete every single day.
Want to know what I’ve learnt?
Check it out; here is a simple 9 step routine I use every morning to get myself in a productive state of mind:
(You can thank me later)
1. Wake Up At 7 AM
This time isn’t too early. It isn’t too late.
And maybe you could manage waking up a little earlier and become even more productive, but what a lot of people preaching the 5 AM alarm clock don’t tell you is that not everyone is as responsive to beginning their day at this time.
I wake up at 7 AM. I’ve tried waking up earlier for a little while, and I’ve tried waking up later, however 7 AM seems to be a perfect fit. There is no point waking up at 5 AM if you’re going to sleep at 11 or 12.
To be honest, the time isn’t that important. Whatever works best for your schedule. Just make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep, and you’re not waking up feeling like s***.
2. Take Some Modafinil
Modafinil is something that I have only just been introduced to in the past month. I do not take it heavily. Twice a week at the maximum, and you should not start taking it without doing your research and consulting your doctor.
Modafinil is a ‘Smart Drug’, normally prescribed to people suffering from Narcolepsy, and other types of sleep disorders. It acts as a wakefulness-promoting agent, and has been used within the military to help combat sleep deprivation.
Naturally, entrepreneurs started to experiment with the drug, majorly when pulling all night-ers to finish a particular project. I have approached it with caution, and normally take it on a Monday morning, and Thursday morning.
Oh man, has this made a difference. I feel like my eyes could cut holes in the laptop screen I’m so focused. I don’t want to check my phone, or keep checking Facebook, I just want to keep banging out work!
The effects are known to last between 10-15 hours, and I’ve found it’s best taken on an empty stomach as soon as you wake up. I then follow this with the next step of the routine, to make sure I don’t experience any possible negative side-effects.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, and I don’t know all there is to know about Modafinil. It has made a big difference to my ability to focus, and not get carried away with distractions. However, I’m not advising you to start taking it. As always, do the research yourself, and consult with your doctor.
3. Drink 1 Litre of Water
I drink 1 litre of water everyday after waking up without fail.
Being in a hot country, this was already a pretty important step. When you take Modafinil, it’s said that you need to increase your fluid intake. I found that out the hard way when I experienced headaches because I forgot to drink enough water.
Those two reasons don’t have a whole lot to do with becoming productive, so;
Remember in school when you were taught just how much of our bodies were made up of water, roughly 60%, to give your memory a jog.
So what happens if we don’t consume enough water?
You can probably guess. Your body starts to fail; you become dehydrated, which leaves you fatigued. And fatigue is definitely not something you want when you’re trying to have a productive day at the office.
The best way to ensure you drink enough fluids is to make a habit of drinking 1 litre of water at the start of your day. The rest will then become much easier to consume naturally throughout your day.
4. Take A Cold Shower
I’m not going to force you to shower under freezing cold water for 5-10 minutes. Turning the heat from warm to cold for a minute or so at the end of your morning shower would suffice.
However, if you decide to limit your shower in the morning to cold water only, then you’d probably find yourself spending a lot less time under that water. A few minutes less in the bathroom won’t really make too much of a difference.
No, where the real gains come from in this instance, is the cold water itself. In fact, a while back I published an article explaining some of the many benefits of cold showers.
You should definitely check it out.
5. Set Up My Work Station for the Day
Since I don’t have a fixed office, and tend to alternate between cafes, friends villas, and my own desk at home; this step can get a little confusing. I always make sure to get my equipment out and set up by 8:45 AM.
By equipment, I mean my laptop, earphones and reading glasses… think I’m getting old.
Once everything is set up in a environment that ticks the following boxes, I’m good to go:
6. Open A Bottle of Cold Brew Coffee
What do you mean you don’t drink coffee?
Cold brew coffee is goddamn delicious. Just buy a big bottle of the concentrated stuff, and you’re ready to get into a productive work flow.
Caffeine is a stimulant which improves cognitive function, energy and vigilance. It can be very healthy for you if used in moderation, and make a big impact on your overall levels of focus and concentration.
As with anything, intake too much and you start to see negative effects.
I stick to cold brew black coffee. It’s the healthiest form, is perfect for the hot weather, and a little concentrate goes a long way.
7. Start the ‘Forest’ Productivity App
The ‘Forest’ app is a game changer, and yet it’s so damn simple. Simply download the app on IOS or Android, and you’re faced with a green screen, with a small tree in the centre.
Set the timer to however long you want to work for. Then your tree will start to grow. If you touch your phone, try to look at notifications or exit the app, the tree will die.
Eventually if you rack up enough points, you’re able to unlock other types of trees etc.
The concept is simple, and may not seem like enough of an incentive to stop looking at your phone. However, you’ll probably find that the smallest incentive will stop you from wanting to waste time looking at apps and messages.
8. Run the ‘StayFocusd’ App for Desktop
Now that your mobile’s set up, go ahead and install the ‘StayFocusd’ extension on Google Chrome. You’re able to blacklist the websites that distract you the most, and set a maximum time you can spend on them per day.
Change the active hours and days accordingly, but this is the perfect extension for working. I once tried to increase the time limit; it was not easy. The app is rigged to give you absolute hell before you can finally confirm the new updated limits.
They want you to work. They’re on your side champ.
9. Throw on Some Earphones & Selective Music
Wait… you don’t listen to music when you work?
You cannot maximise your productive potential unless you’re listening to music whilst you work. Take a look at this list of the benefits of music. Different types of music work for different people.
In my case, something with a fairly prominent beat, yet less vocals has the biggest impact. Chillstep is the perfect type of music to help myself get into a productive flow.
Anything that has a lot of vocals causes me to focus more on the lyrics and less on the word in front of me.
P.S. Make sure your earphones or headphones are noise-cancelling. It’s 100% the best way to ensure you block out the rest of the world.
Honestly, this routine has made an incredible difference to my overall ability to focus and not get distracted. You can even throw in some meditation and simple push up or cardio exercises as well if you have enough time before work.
Not all of these steps will be for you, and you may be able to edit a couple of things. However, I definitely recommend giving the above a try and seeing if it makes a strong difference to your work flow.
Here’s a quick recap of how I became a productive beast, with a simple 9 step routine: