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November 25th, 2009 · 17 Comments · Guest Posts, Habits, Productivity


Productivity is the art of doing more of what’s important in less time than usual.

There are different ways to be more productive, and the following are the ten ways I most use to maintain a high quality standard of productivity in what I do.

1. Avoid distractions

Distractions don’t add value to your work. Learn to procrastinate on low value activities (how awesome is that?) and spend your energies doing high quality activities.

2. Remove items from your ToDo list

Chances are that you have a lot of stuff in your todo list, yet most of them are probably things that are not really important to you. Try to clean up your todo list and leave just a few tasks that’ll make the difference in your work.

Hint: apply the 80/20 rule.

3. Read emails only twice per day

There’s no reason why you should check emails every 10 minutes. Check them only twice per day and never first thing in the morning. If you think that the world will end if you don’t check your emails, setup an autoresponder that says that you’ll read emails only at 11am and 16pm and that you have a phone number for critical emergencies.

4. Wake up early

Waking up early has been proven to be an excellent productivity tip. If you wake up early in the morning you can go out for a run and then feel great for the rest of the day. If you want to try this habit I suggest you to set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier every few days.

5. Do important things early in the morning

Now that you wake up early and you don’t check emails straight away, it’s time for you to do the important things. As a general rule, pick the two or three most important tasks from your todo list and commit to do nothing else until you get them done.

6. Use single focus and don’t multi-task

Turn off notifications and work on a single task if you want to maximize your productivity. Scientists agree that our brain does not function well when we try to multi-task, so don’t try to work against it.

7. Set a time limit

It’s very hard to maintain focus for long periods of time. I usually set a time limit of 25 minutes in every activity I do and then I take a five minutes break to let my brain and muscles relax. This particular technique is called pomodoro technique, and it works very well. Try it!

8. Plan the day before

Planning the day before is a dirty trick I started to use only lately. Basically the idea is that when I plan my activities the day before, I set higher goals because I’m optimistic about the day that will come. As a result I have a very focused and high quality work to do every day, and I have no reason to procrastinate.

9. Say no

Learn to say no to things that you don’t want to do. There’s no reason to do something that has no value to you, and if you do it anyway, you may end up doing a poor job which is usually worse than doing nothing. Another great tip is to delegate your tasks to other people, assuming that you have the opportunity to do so. Learn to delegate the unimportant tasks first, so you can focus in your real business.

10. Take breaks often

You are not a robot, and you need to take some time to rest. Take a break at least every hour, but don’t use it for checking emails. Instead go outside a few minutes and enjoy some fresh hair, you’ll be amazed by how powerful is this. Give it a try.

You don’t have to apply all these tips from day one, as you would probably feel overwhelmed in the beginning. Try to take one tip at a time and see how they work for you.

When you apply productivity concepts you also have to remember that your goal is to do less and enjoy life more. There’s no reason to be more productive if you’ll have to work more hours at the end of the day.



About the Author: Oscar Del Ben writes about productivity, personal development and lifestyle at FreestyleMind. Check out his website and subscribe to his RSS Feed.


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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Oscar - freestyle mindNo Gravatar

    Thanks David for giving me the opportunity to write for your blog!
    .-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..Is Learning to Program Worth Your Time? =-.

  • Antti KokkonenNo Gravatar

    Reading great posts like this about productivity remind me what a lazy procrastinator I am sometimes. Even that I keep inbox zero, I read emails way too often and I get easily distracted when there’s something there.

    I do the same with reading RSS feeds; instead of dedicating time for it, I check the reader every now and then and again, go drive the I-should-be-doing-something-else lane. Complete that with my “Sure, I can help you with that” attitude and sometimes my days just flyby 🙂

    Thanks Oscar for great advice, I definitely needed it!
    .-= Antti Kokkonen´s last blog ..How To Connect Your Social Media Profiles =-.

  • RyanNo Gravatar

    You’re popping up all over the place Oscar! I see that you’re really cooking on your Guest Post Challege 😉

    All great tips. My top ones: Getting up at 4:45 every day, checking email once a day, and setting aside offline time to write posts.
    .-= Ryan´s last blog ..My Quotes: 11/25/09 =-.

  • King SidharthNo Gravatar

    Wow! This is so cool. I love this post.
    .-= King Sidharth´s last blog ..Gifting Guy’s Secret Meditation Revealed! =-.

  • Beth AndrusNo Gravatar

    This is a great article. I frequently write about how to get things done, because it’s a problem for everyone at some time or other. These are great tips! I also schedule one dreaded task a day, a couple of times a week. I do it first thing in the morning, before working out or anything. When I accomplish something I’ve been dreading, I feel like a rockstar for the rest of the day and get even more done. Thanks for the great post.
    .-= Beth Andrus´s last blog ..A Great Cranberry Relish Recipe (Because You Should Be Cooking, Not Working) =-.

  • Rocky | R O C K O N O V A.COMNo Gravatar

    “6. Use single focus and don’t multi-task

    Turn off notifications and work on a single task if you want to maximize your productivity. Scientists agree that our brain does not function well when we try to multi-task, so don’t try to work against it.”

    This has been something I’ve been focusing on the past few weeks. Just unitasking and I found it be so so effective! The quality and happiness of work just goes up so much.

    Great article, Oscar!

  • PaulNo Gravatar


    I’m just reading the “the 168 hour week” by Kevin Hogan. He explains, why people usually Do Not reach their goals – some very good psychology insights.
    And he maps out a procedure, that makes it much more likely to stay on top of your tasks. Ireally like this book and I can recommend it to you without hestitation!!!

    I also recommend: Time Management Secrets: Getting More Done by Paul Lemberg on his blog.
    4 videos a 15 min. ok a bit long, but worth the time.

    To your productivity


  • ShaneNo Gravatar

    Nice roundup, Oscar!
    I’m currently challenging myself to avoid distractions as much as possible, but it’s harder than I thought it would be…
    No doubt that it helps productivity, though.
    .-= Shane´s last blog ..30 Videos in 30 Days – More About This Challenge =-.

  • 22 Posts That Would Help You How To Blog Better | Internethow Blog


  • Zoli CsereiNo Gravatar

    Hey Oscar,

    congratulations on seeding the first fruits of your guest post marathon 🙂 Boosting productivity is something you really need now I think, and considering that I also want to dive into a guest post grand tour while still staying alive, your list is highly useful to me, too!

    Thanks Mr. Del Ben (is that correct: Mr. Del Ben? 🙂 )
    .-= Zoli Cserei´s last blog ..Simply Will Do Digest – Issue #3 =-.

  • Weekly Link Round-Up: November 30, 2009

    […] Ben is a returning guest star of this list. This time one of his guest posts caught my attention: 10 Ways To Boost Your Productivity Without Killing Yourself, at Il Cantone. Just like Oscar, I am preparing to launch a Guest Post Grand Tour very soon, so I […]

  • Robin DickinsonNo Gravatar

    Very useful post, Oscar. Thank-you for these excellent tips.

    Point 9, about saying ‘No’ is very powerful, and a great reminder to me.

    One thing that I would add to this conversation is:


    I’m at my most productive when I do what I love (as a career choice). Here, I use the term ‘productive’ to mean ‘doing a BETTER job in LESS time’ – rather than just doing the job in less time.

    This ‘love’ of the task/job/career brings and releases your full creativity capacity to the task – so you become:

    Efficient + Effective = Productive

    Conversely, I found in my previous (unloved) career, whenever I got productive at tasks I didn’t like, and did them more efficiently, the boss would give me additional disliked tasks to do! 🙁

    They had a saying in that job “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy man (aka efficient/productive person).” Hmm.

    Best to you, Oscar – and best wishes to David.

    Robin 🙂
    .-= Robin Dickinson´s last blog ..How to generate an endless flow of fantastic ideas: Part 1 =-.

  • ileaneNo Gravatar

    David and Oscar,

    It is certainly an honor to be a guest on this blog, and for David I think you will gain some new readers as a result . Nice team work. These are some great tips. I found this on Digg, so I Dugg it.

    It’s hard to avoid distractions when you are a twitter addict like me. I follow great people that always have an awesome link or two to share. I’ll follow your advice about limiting myself and see if that helps.

    .-= ileane´s last blog ..Blog Engage Activity for Ms. Ileane Speaks in November =-.

  • bermetsmith valiNo Gravatar

    Hi everyone!
    good post, real advices
    I work a lot with computer and tired so much.
    I visit a Gym to relax and watch movies.

  • EricNo Gravatar

    Oscar, Hey!

    These are all some really great ideas for getting more done in less time. I really like number 5 and 6 because it’s always better to get done what absolutely needs done before anything else or – early in the morning as you put it.

    I like number 6 because you really do get more done by focusing your mind on one task at a time. If you’re not getting more done, something is wrong here lol.

    The only problem I see is people not actually doing any of these and instead just talking about them and reading them.

    If you want to really get more done in less time, taking action on it is what makes it happen.

    Great post man!

  • Satish KumarNo Gravatar

    The productivity/time management are a major challenge every human faces. I believe the 10 points mentioned in the blog cover almost every major solution for raising the productivity…. we must circulate the link to all those who need it .

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