I used to think that productivity was about getting as much work done as possible.
This definition of productivity led me to burn out and a lack of satisfaction about both my progress and achievements.
I knew a change was needed.
Only when I redefined productivity, did I manage to see bigger impact, more growth and deeper satisfaction in my career and my life more broadly.
My new definition of productivity? Working on the right things, being effective and efficient, and taking care of my physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.
To get some practical insights and tips on this topic, I reached out to my friend Dr. Christian Poensgen.
Christian is scientist turned author, speaker, coach and consultant who sets up executives, entrepreneurs and CEOs in high-stress environments for long-term success.
Here are 7 essential productivity tips he shared with me:
1. Get 10 mins of sunlight before 10 am. This is vital for optimizing your cortisol and melatonin levels. You’ll have more energy during the day and fall deeply asleep easier at night.
2. Spend 10 mins to set 3 daily goals. Productivity isn’t about squeezing in more things, but doing the right things. Without goals, you’ll be lost. So write down 3 daily goals – and timebox your calendar to pursue them (h/t to Nir Eyal).
3. Put in 90 mins of deep focus. That amount of “deep work” a day doubles your productivity, McKinsey found. 75% of us are best at it in the morning. If you’re a night owl, do it later in the day.
4. Take 90 mins of breaks. The 10% most productive people do so, too. That’s two 15-min breaks and a 1-hour lunch break. Pro tip: include deep rest (see #5).
5. Put in 26 mins of deep rest. This is the length of an ideal power nap, according to NASA. You’ll get two days in one. Not a napper? Do “non-sleep deep rest” instead. It’s Google's CEO favorite.
6. Invest 10 mins to call it a day. We could fill any arbitrary number of hours with what feels to be productive work”, as Cal Newport has written. Yet, that’s a recipe for burnout. Instead, try Newport’s “shutdown ritual”. It’s a game-changer.
7. Get 90 mins of deep sleep per night. Sleep is simple: quality > quantity. Sufficient quality sleep boosts productivity by 150%. And it’s vital for your resilience. Mere quantity (i.e. 8 hours of shallow sleep) isn’t good enough. You also need quality. So get 90 mins of deep sleep a night. How? Start with #1 – and the 3-3-3 rule: • No caffeine after 3 pm • No food 3 hours before bed • No intense exercise 3 hours before bed
Looking for additional personal development tips? Follow Dr. Christian and signup for his weekly (free) newsletter Beyond Productivity - link is in the comments.