How To Easily Develop Your Own Productivity Hacks
Don’t rely on others’ systems to get where you want to be.
Way back when I started on my self-improvement journey, I had productivity hacks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I read every blog post even remotely related to productivity. I just had to know if there was:
A new way to journal
A coffee variation that makes me more alert
A workout that takes less time but gives more results
Meditation tricks to enhance focus
A new task planning software
The latest ‘Secret Behind [Enter successful person]’ news story
…and much more.
I learned a lot from this journey of continuous improvement and the hunger for knowledge.
I chased different habits. I learned meta-skills like meditation and learning how to learn. I hunted successful people in every field to take their routines.
But soon, I was fed up. It wasn’t working.
Life was good, but it wasn’t great. Compared to all the effort I put in, I saw marginal results.
I’d literally tried every trick in the book:
Waking up early vs staying up late
Tackling the biggest task first vs the smallest
Eating food vs fasting
Weight lifting vs cardio
…and countless other combinations to see what would best work for me.
Even still, I wasn’t seeing the results I hoped for. It seemed that the successful ones on this planet are just different. That there’s a bridge between me and them that I couldn’t cross.
Fortunately, a couple of years into this mess, I realized what I was doing wrong.
The Ultimate Meta Skill
What I was doing until now was taking cookie-cutter tricks out of the productivity playbook wondering why they don’t work.
I finally got the answer — because we all are different. Our emotions, bodies, thoughts, and spiritual development combine to form a unique personality.
And even though certain productivity principles work for all of us, the nitty-gritty of the matter is always different.
I meditate two hours a day and can’t work properly without it. Others work 18 hours straight and don’t feel the need to relax.
Simply put — what works for you may not work for me (or others) and vice-versa. Now, if all of us are different what can we do?
What’s the one thing we can learn to be our best selves?
It’s the ultimate meta-skill that alone can make you the most productive person on the planet:
Launch and Iterate
Let me explain. The idea of “launch and iterate” means you do what you do, but every now and then, see what’s working (and what’s not) to make required changes.
Simple, right? Exactly. And in its simplicity, lies its power.
Antifragile wasn’t even a word until Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a book on it with the same title.
Here’s a primer.
You probably already know about things that are fragile. They’re like a vase — if you drop it from a height, it shatters. Then comes things that are robust — say steel rod that doesn’t break when dropped from a height.
Before Nassim Taleb wrote his book Antifragile, the general public only knew about the fragile and robust.
But he introduced them to Antifragile — things that gain from disorder. To continue our example from dropping from the height, a tennis ball is antifragile. The higher you throw it from, the higher it jumps.
Let’s see other examples. Hydra in Greek mythology was a monster that would grow two heads every time you cut one. That is a classic example of antifragile. Things that gain from chaos and disorder.
Now come to real life. A good example of an antifragile system is airline safety measures. Every time a plane crashes, the safety systems get better. And thus fewer and fewer failures occur every year. The same is the case with Silicon Valley startups — the more feedback and failures they get from the market, the better they get due to constant tinkering.
In simpler words, any system that reacts positively to negative events is antifragile.
Got it? Great.
Let’s now see how we apply it to your production systems.
Antifragile Systems Never Fail
At the fundamental level, all productivity advice is about “getting more done in less time while still being happy and at peace.”
You want to:
Do more things
Spend less time doing it so you have more time for the other things you love
Be happy and peaceful instead of burning out.
Now, when you adopt a particular productivity system made by a “Productivity Coach” you either follow that system or don’t follow that system.
If it tells you to have coffee at noon and you don’t, you’re technically not following the system. You may even be called a ‘cheater’.
Any system in the world cannot take into account the myriad of factors that affect you — your personal preferences, your environment, your lifestyle, etc.
Thus, these systems are fragile. If you just had an emotional weekend and you don’t follow the system on Monday morning, you’ve failed. When you don’t see the results, the experts will say it’s because you didn’t follow the system.
Thus, being rigid about following a system brings fragility. There’s no room for experimentation. Plus, you feel guilty when you don’t follow the plan laid out for you.
To sum up, systems do work, but they depend a lot on things being in our control. Which are often not.
My question is, “Is there a better way to think about the problem?”
Turns out, there is.
A Simple Mindset Shift And You Won’t Need to Look For Productivity Advice Again
In a world filled with randomness, ups and downs, and constant deviations, you cannot see things as black and white, i.e. either you follow X [replace with your system] or you don’t.
The alternative as we saw above is to launch and iterate.
The aim here is to make small changes to your life that have better long-term effects.
And how do you do it? By just observing yourself.
Here are a few questions you could ask yourself:
What’s the reason behind you feeling like not working?
Why were you not able to finish a certain task before the deadline?
Why are you not able to work effectively in the afternoon?
I know it would take more time and a lot more strength to be honest with yourself. But the rewards would be permanent and life-altering.
Once you know the cause of your problems, make a change, and ensure that it doesn’t happen the next time. That’s it.
Let’s take the above problems and see what I could learn from them:
If I had an argument with my friend an hour ago, instead of piling up on coffee, I should resolve it and then return to work
If the task wasn’t finished before the deadline, I would analyze the reasons. I can reduce the scope of work or remove time-wasters.
If I feel like not working in the afternoon, I’d have a light lunch or I can skip work and continue later in the evening.
All this seems pretty basic but, trust me, it works.
Instead of adopting a whole new system of productivity, just focus on what’s not working and make it work. These tiny changes are your dominoes that will compound over time.
The main upside of this mentality is you’re no longer scared of deviations. **Every deviation is just information. **It tells you how you can improve the next time without feeling guilty.
Slowly you become like the airline safety system — you’ll have fewer ‘crashes’ with every bad day.
Rigid routines and systems are vulnerable and fragile.
The way out of this mess is to not be rigid — to be flexible in getting your practice in no matter what you do.
Switching to the “launch and iterate” mentality means you realize that the world is not in your control. I can position myself to respond to the events around me. Instead of prediction, I focus on an effective reaction.
Don’t set yourself in stone. Be like water — take the shape of the vessel you’re put into. Be adaptable. Be invincible. Be formidable.
Are you serious about becoming the best version of yourself? Get your free 5-day email course to Master The Art Of Personal Transformation