Productivity is about making the most of your resources so you get more done with what you already have, right? Well, what if I told by limiting your access to those resources your productivity would increase significantly? You would tell me I’m mad, and to a point, you would be right, but I would be also telling you the truth.
We live in an abundant Universe. There’s plenty of anything for everyone (it’s just poorly distributed). In the Western World, everyone has access to plenty of resources now. This has made us lazy. Because there are so many resources, we don’t pay attention to our choices and that makes our productivity worse. In scarcity, we are forced to make choices. It’s only when we don’t have access to everything that we realize what’s important for us.
This is how the setting limits system works to improve your productivity. Now, this scarcity is not real, just an illusionary Sword of Damocles. You can apply it in different ways:
Time. Guys, this a BIG one. Almost everyone is literally running around trying to have more time. If we told them that by actually decreasing the time they had they would be more productive and efficient they would turn mad, so let’s not do it. Parkinson’s Law says: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
Think about it. In my own case, when I have a deadline near the corner I’m more productive. Motivation takes part in the process, but just having less time makes you do things more focused. Racers don’t have time to hesitate or procrastinate either. Some examples: The Pomodoro Technique or the (10+2) Procrastination Hack. These methods also work because they allow you to eat the elephant in small chunks.
Goals. Leo Babauta is responsible for me writing about this one because it’s a big theme in his books, especially The Power of Less. Basically, it tells you to narrow your focus to one major goal (that you will divide into mini-goals later). This transforms you into an effective laser. Also, by down this, you are forced to choose between those goals and you will end up choosing those that are more important for your growth as a human being. The end result is fulfillment.
Tools. Compare two workers: one with 1000 tools and one with 5 really efficient tools, which works better? You get the idea, so get a smaller toolbox. A lot of people have tons of programs, plugins, etc. that they don’t really use.
Work. Pareto Principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. The wise thing to do is focus on that 20%. Timothy Ferriss is famous for teaching people how to apply that rule to have more free time, but I’ll talk more about it in a post I’ll write on outsourcing.
People. Limit your close relationships to a closer circle of friends. When you set a limit (a number) you’ll have to choose those that make you more happy and lead you to success.
Information. Neurologists have recently found that our choices are statistically right with more frequency when we have less information. That’s when we use our intuition instead of contrasting the pros and cons of each option. It seems like this contradicts our Resourcefulness principle, but it doesn’t.
Products. Apple is a company that is known for doing just a few products but doing them really well. Although marketing plays also an important role, their success it’s obvious.
Possessions. Reduce your stuff to just the important things.
Speed. Slow down your work and how you change things. Do things in really small steps and take one every day. It creates quality and it’s more of a long-term success approach. It’s the principle behind crafting and habit changing.