According to WordPress, this is the 608th post to be added to ScottHYoung.com. This website has a large archive, so I’m not surprised when many readers tell me they enjoy the site, but haven’t been able to read all the articles. I’d like to save you some time by picking, in my opinion, the ten best articles about productivity on this website.
Want to read faster? In this article I’ll talk about how I started as a moderately paced reader and after some training in speed reading I was able to double my reading speed.
Speed reading also stirred up some controversy, from people claiming it was impossible to people who claimed you shouldn’t try to increase the speed you read. I believe that speed reading is definitely a worthwhile skill, but not just for increasing your top reading speed. It’s more about developing reading habits and techniques that cut out wasted reading time, not just furiously turning pages.
#2 - Habitual Mastery
Habits are the bedrock of any attempt to improve your productivity. Unless you can wrestle those unconscious behaviors, you’ll always fall short of what you would like to accomplish. This five part series was another popular addition to the website, that also spawned How to Change a Habit.
The Pareto Principle (more commonly known as the 80/20 Rule) is about the imbalance of effects. Small actions (the 20%) can account for huge results (the 80%). With just a little irony, I applied this rule to a variety of settings. The goal isn’t to recursively eliminate everything from your life, but to consciously reduce the things that provide less value.
It’s amazing how many people require drugs just to function in the morning. I’m not on the anti-caffeine crusade, but I think it’s probably better if you aren’t completely dependent on your daily dose to wake up. In this article I try to tackle some non-caffeinated ways to get out of bed each morning.
The best tip for me is one I forgot to mention: don’t abuse the snooze button. I’m as guilty of this as the next guy, but if you can train yourself to avoid pressing it, it is far easier to get out of bed.
For a less tactical and more strategic look at productivity, top-heaviness is one of my favorite causes. Top-heaviness, when referring to your schedule, means that you place the most important, nasty and long activities first. If you start with the heaviest chunks in your day, then you won’t run out of energy until they are finished.
An open loop is any activity that doesn’t have a defined ending point. You need to close any open loops you have, as they will suck away your energy like a vampire. Projects that just get better without ever being complete. Tweaking and refining is fine, but unless you know what the “done” threshold is, you’ll never reach it.
This article covers one of my best suggestions for becoming more productive: keeping a list of weekly and daily goals. Every week you create a new list detailing everything that needs to be done in the upcoming week and what you want to accomplish. Then, every day, you tackle a few items from that weekly list by putting them on your list of daily goals.
The list of daily goals keeps you focused in the short-term, so you don’t get overwhelmed. The weekly goals list allows you to insert some of the more important, but less urgent matters that often get missed on a 1-week horizon. I’ve experimented with an additional list for monthly goals, but I find it is often too cumbersome to be useful, instead I usually pick one or two big goals to accomplish in the month, rather than a laundry list of things to do.
When possible, I like to wake up early. And trust me, it’s not because I’m a morning person. My natural sleep rhythm would put me in bed by 1 am and wake me up at 11 am if I let it. But waking up early is one of the best ways to get more useful time into your day, even if it means sleeping a bit earlier.
I’m a University student, so I can definitely understand there can be worthwhile reasons to stay up late and sleep in. My point is that, if you can train yourself to an early rising schedule on days you aren’t going out, you can squeeze more productivity to ensure that there are more days for fun.
This is a less serious post about ways you can get something from only a small chunk of time. We all have the 15 minute breaks in our schedule that are otherwise wasted. Here are some ideas to get the most of time that normally falls through our fingers.
#10 - Energy Management
Managing energy, not time, is the key to getting things done. This is a review of the excellent book, The Power of Full Engagement. I write about how there are different dimensions of energy used for productivity, and how the need to stay cyclical is important if you want to get more done with less stress.
Now for Some Shameless Link-Baiting…
The first 10 people to write a review of this post, along with which of the ten articles they liked best and why, will get a free copy of my e-book, The Little Book of Productivity. All you need to do is write the review on your blog and link back to this article, and your favorite article of the ten. Then just email me the link.
In addition, the best review will also get a link back from me in the next Friday Links and free access to every e-book I’ve written so far.