Everyone wants to know the secret way to be productive. Ambitious individuals in particular spend time looking for every possible competitive advantage, often only to find out that the secrets to productivity are simpler than they thought.
Inspired by a recent conversation with fellow Inc. contributor Nicolas Cole, this article will explain the simple truth that fosters maximum productivity and sustained levels of optimum productivity. To cement the context of this conversation, I'm going to tell you a short personal anecdote.
I was once passionate about bodybuilding. Despite my current narrow frame and depleted biceps, for the previous five years of my life, I averaged two hours per day in the gym. Everything I read about bodybuilding told me that supplements were the secret key to building muscle.
I stocked up on all of the protein and preworkout supplements I could find. I took pills to pump more blood to my muscles, pills to ensure that I had more than enough vitamins, and pills to make my muscles hold more water. My lackluster results forced me to approach the largest bodybuilder in my gym to ask him what the secret to getting big is. And you know what he told me? Food. Lots of food.
Ends up that eating five full meals per day was the secret to growing muscles. After focusing on refining my meal prep, never consuming restaurant food, eating five meals and drinking two or three protein shakes each day, I finally started growing the muscle I always wanted.
The same applies to productivity. The true secret to productivity is exceedingly simple, and so obvious that most people overlook it.
The truth is that inconsistency is not sustainable, and simplicity is velocity.
People who achieve their goals are consistent. They work every single day. If they do take time off, they're very intentional to be completely disconnected from work so that they can recharge and come back to their job refreshed.
They simplify their life by removing distractions--whether that's television, Facebook, or late-nights. They stop partying, and they stop wasting time fantasizing about the future or reminiscing about the past. They become so absorbed in the present moment that they lose track of time.
Stop listening to the propaganda. You don't need that fancy app to track each second of your day. You don't need to take a work call while exercising. You don't need energy supplements. You don't need 1,000 extra stimuli to get you through each day.
What you need is to reduce the noise in your life. Create a calm, organized environment. Develop a grounding morning routine that includes meditation and exercise. Stick to a consistent schedule. Start mastering your day instead of letting random phone calls interrupt your flow.
If you want to achieve maximum productivity and have the greatest return on your time investment, then simplify your life. Take accountability and responsibility for your actions, and start being more present and engaged in each moment.
Remember, inconsistency is not sustainable, and simplicity is velocity.