- Scott H Young - https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog -

The Secret to Productivity

Of all the books I have read about how to manage your time and be more productive, I have yet to hear someone to mention what is quite possibly the single most effective means for being more productive. The power of this technique is so great that it makes working at double, triple or even quadruple your effectiveness and efficiency come naturally while simultaneously reducing stress.

The secret is simple. Enjoy what you are doing. If you enjoy the activity you are doing it ceases to be work but instead becomes a challenging game of skill and fun. Enjoyment and fun in the activities you do will eliminate procrastination and make work a lot easier. Furthermore, you will find all those bothersome distractions don’t seem to impact you when you truly love and enjoy what you are doing.

When you are filled with fun and enjoyment, you enter a state of extreme productivity called flow. This state is where your mind locks in on the task at hand and focuses all your efforts. This state of pure enjoyment and focus can make you instantly double or triple your productivity. Instead of leaning back in your chair as your eyes drupe from the extra plate of fries your body is currently digesting from lunch, you shoot up in your chair and focus on the task ahead. This is the state where someone would literally have to pry you off your computer desk before you would leave work.

At this point you may be thinking to yourself, “Of course enjoying your tasks makes work easier, but it is the tasks I don’t enjoy that I need to be more productive on! I don’t read time management books to help speed up the tasks I already enjoy.” You are completely correct in stating this. The tasks that we don’t naturally enjoy are the ones that we tend to require all those productivity tips, techniques and hacks for. Now I am going to tell you why this ‘secret’ to productivity is, in fact, quite a well kept secret.

You have, within you, right now, the power to choose how much enjoyment you derive from any activity you experience in life. The experience you feel in any moment is a decision, that can be controlled from the stimulus provided by the environment. By deciding exactly the level of experience you want to have for any given moment you can make even repulsive and dreadful tasks a blissful state of enjoyment and flow.

How can you make this decision for what level of experience you want for your life? How can you take boring and mundane activities and energize them with the qualities of motivation and productivity? There are various techniques we can employ to focus our level of enjoyment from any given experience. By utilizing these techniques and practicing them we can remove much of the tedium we feel and make every moment a thrill and joyous experience.

Find Your Passion

The first way to ensure that your moments are filled with more joy and excitement is simply to ensure that your avocation is aligned with the types of activities you enjoy already. If your career doesn’t fill you with passion or joy then you need to start looking for a new career. I’m going to cut to the chase here. Living for years and decades devoting a third of your time on this planet to a meaningless job producing widgets and cogs is a horrible way to live. Living your passion and making a little less money is far superior to earning a little more pocket change without any passion.

Once you feel you are in a field you are passionate about, ensure that the culture of your work or business corresponds to that passion. Passion is more than just what you do but also the environment you work at. Does your company support the kind of personality you function best in? Sometimes your avocation may not be the issue but a bad corporate culture that is poisoning your passion through poor management or systems. Align your career and job with passion.

Finally, once you are in a position where you have your career in job in alignment with your passion, try to align your life tasks with passion. You need to exercise, but that doesn’t mean it has to be running or going to the gym. Yoga, swimming, aerobics or karate are all viable forms of exercise. Find ways to squeeze the juice and feel the passion of all of your activities. By aligning the majority of your activities with fun and passion, you significantly increase your productivity and enjoyment of life.

How Can I Enjoy the Tasks I Hate?

Aligning yourself with passions and interests can greatly increase the enjoyment you already derive, but it still leaves a few activities that you need to do that you don’t particularly enjoy. Don’t fear, there is a way to enjoy boring, mundane or even repulsive tasks. Enjoyment is a decision, and while controlling the external factors can help, it is still your decision to make. Choosing to feel enjoyment can create far more productivity than any time-scheduling, GTD, lifehack method can easily provide.

To enjoy tasks you hate, I am going to use a modified version of Anthony Robbins [1] quality quantifiers. To use this process, you use three simple steps. This process may seem trivial at first but, trust me, it requires some practice to get right. When you do get it right it can be an excellent tool for creating immediate increases in the enjoyment you feel in any moment.

Step One: Decide what your current level of enjoyment is. Rate this value on a scale from -10 to +10. -10 being the most disgusting, repulsive and horrible task you can possibly imagine and +10 being the most exhilarating, exciting and enjoyable experience possible. Be completely honest with yourself and figure our what your current level of enjoyment is.

Step Two: Decide what level of enjoyment you want to experience. Figure out where on the scale you want to have an experience. Chances are most your experiences you will want to be within the range of 7-10. This process functions like a very quick goal setting procedure by identifying where you are and then where you want to be.

Step Three: Determine what it would take to move your experience from where it is to where you want it to be. This is the most difficult step, but it is possible, regardless of the situation. This step requires some brainstorming and creativity. Be persistent with this step until you have an answer. If you can’t figure out how to go from a -2 to a 10 right away, try getting it to a +2 and then a +7, first.

Listen to music, move your body into an alert and ready posture, smile more, look up and really appreciate being alive. All of these are valid methods for increasing your enjoyment but you need to find what works for you. Focus on things that are in your control. Don’t make conditions for a level ten experience to require external events. Remember, your level of enjoyment is a decision that is based internally.

Make it a Game

Another great way I find to quickly move things to a higher level of experience is to make it a game. Make your activity a game in doing the best possible job. Don’t just do your work, do it to a whole new level of excellence where you deliver a performance far over the necessity. Give yourself intermediate rewards for any advancements and pretend you are advancing in your work game.

Games are actually only a few degrees different from boring and repetitive tasks. There are a few elements that make games fun which you can add to any activity you pursue. By taking control of this process you can make every mundane task an exciting challenge. There are a few key elements you should look at:

Rewards – Games function by rewards. Give yourself rewards for your progress. Most importantly, pace the rewards so that you have a bunch of little rewards leading up to a big reward. This reward schedule when done in short terms can allow you to push through even painful tasks. These rewards can be tiny and small, but meaningful. Your fifteen minute reward might be just to stand up and stretch your arms and legs. Your two hour reward might be a five minute internet break.

Use Variable Rate Rewards – Here is an incredibly powerful tool. By making your rewards come in on a random schedule, it is easy to continue working and you can limit the amount of rewards you need to think of. To do this simply have a pair of dice or some other method for creating a random probability. Then, whenever you reach a certain milestone in your activity roll your dice. On a certain roll or set of rolls you can give yourself your reward, otherwise keep working.

Use Your Environment – Games create an environment that supports enjoyment. Video games tend to use expensive budgets for music, sound effects and graphics to provide this very point. Even board games are carefully designed to create the environment conducive to fun. Similarly, changing your environment by playing background music or working in a colorful environment can greatly improve your level of enjoyment.

The best way to improve your enjoyment is simply by making enjoyment a necessity in your life. Too often people tend to focus on how they need to be disciplined and focused in their efforts. How much fun they have at the job simply isn’t an issue. Make it an issue. By forcing your mind to look for ways to maximize your enjoyment, you simultaneously maximize your productivity.

If you look at people who work harder, longer and more effectively than others it is largely because of one reason. They enjoy what they do. I have yet to hear someone say that it was all of their time management practices that led to their success. While those techniques are invaluable for boosting productivity, they pale in comparison to the difference that enjoyment can provide. Find enjoyment, excitement and enthusiasm in every task you do. Not only will it improve your productivity, but you will be a lot happier. Isn’t that the whole point?