Productivity Strategy: Reduce Friction, Increase Integrity, Become Simple
Hi friends, I wanted to share my strategy for driving up productivity in a holistic way - such that everything is balanced, sustainable, but trends upward toward greater success and power over time.
Such a strategy as this must include the wisdom of knowing how to plan without over-planning, how to push without over-pushing, and how to recognize your efforts without becoming stagnant.
The core pieces are as follows:
Reduce Friction Increase Integrity Become Simple
What's nice about these core principles is that they are extremely versatile and can fit into and enhance any life situation. They can also be approached from any current level of productivity - so if you're truly struggling to get yourself out of bed OR if you're already rocking and rolling at a high gear, these principles will help you move upward that next notch.
What's also good about these principles is that it's extremely difficult to "go overboard" with them and turn them into self-abuse. They're generally "evergreen" so that they'll just keep revealing deeper layers of productive flow to you as you continue play with them and make them into your own thing.
So with all that said, let's get into them.
"Friction" is the stuff in your world that gets in your way, slows you down, confuses you, shuts you down, or triggers a chain of thought that doesn't serve you.
Some examples include:
- Whenever you walk from one room to the next and see a cobweb up in the ceiling and think "oh yeah I have to get to that one day" - Having to clear a spot on your desk for where your laptop goes - Interacting with a person every day who makes you feel worse as a result - Waiting until the last possible moment to wash your dishes or clothes, and having to look at the dirty pile-up of it until then - Regularly using rooms that don't get a good clean - Smoking - Getting drunk or high daily/nightly - and waking up in a stupor every morning - Not maintaining your computer, and so it operates slowly
In every one of these instances, your energy is "taxed" as a result of passing through this moment. Your momentum is slowed down and you now have to recover just to get back to where you otherwise would have been.
Therefore you get tons of great productive leverage by stopping to remove or dissolve friction. Some of these are certainly easier than others, and so it makes sense to start with whatever will give you the greatest benefit for the least amount of work.
Exercise to reduce friction: Create a "master list" of all the friction in your life that you encounter. Have that list on your phone, and make a note of it as you go about your day. Once the list is complete, choose the highest leverage ones and get to work dissolving them. This might mean making a single one-off decision, or it might mean starting and nurturing a new habit.
"Integrity" is when your word lines up with your actions. It means you say what you're going to do, and then you do it. It also means your actions are a reflection of your highest values, ethics, morality.
Of course we can't demand perfection of ourselves in all moments, but integrity means that we're generally ushering our actions toward our loftier values. It means honestly recognizing when we're not offering our best to ourselves and the world, and course-correcting however we can.
There's tons of space here for messing up, but even as we mess up and fall into self-deception, we keep our gaze fixed on the target.
This relationship between word and action is fascinating to me. There are two major pathologies that we can fall into regarding that relationship:
Our action doesn't line up with our word - as we just discussed above,
We don't use our word at all. This is when we become so disillusioned with ourselves that we stop committing to any change and "give up" for some period of time.
Exercise to increase integrity: Say you're going to do something and do it.
Establish a new commitment. Please believe me - I've spent years reading self-help books, looking for loopholes around it and I've come up empty. I'm going to say it: there is no way around this part. If you wish to grow, evolve, succeed, or actualize, then you'll need to commit to doing something and follow through on it.
Therefore, start by repairing and nurturing this relationship. Give yourself something small to do, and then do it. You can always do more, but you can't do less.
Honestly assess where your actions are most lacking in your life - where you're most dropping the ball on your wellness, and create a commitment that will course-correct.
From now on, the mantra is "I have to because I said I would."
After a week, you can increase the difficulty.
"Simple" as opposed to complex. The invitation here is to give yourself permission to be simple.
This could refer to a few things:
- Where have you taken on too many projects? - Where/how are you over-committed to things? - How many books, shows, movies have you started but not completed? - How many ambitions do you have for yourself? - How many grudges do you hold? - How many problems do you feel you have? - How many tabs open do you have on your browser?
All of these represent stuff that is either in your space, your visual field, or in your mind. It's similar to friction, but it's really all distraction. So much distraction! Notice how fast your mind is going. Notice how much time needs to pass before you reach back down for your phone.
All of these distractions obscure the beauty of your life from you. Becoming simple means accessing that beauty immediately. It means engaging with life as it is, getting back into flow with it, getting back into harmony with it, and releasing this intense effort to control or mastermind it.
Exercise to become Simple: Create an intention to become simple. Close your eyes and let all of your distractions, open-loops, unfinished projects, mental debris just settle down. Let it all stop for a minute. How much of this is really valuable to you?
Where are you distracted by the belief that your fulfillment is somewhere in the future after you completed every single thing? It's just a belief. Let it go! Fulfillment is found by merging deeply with your life now.
Create a list of things in your life that are just distractions with only promised value but never actually delivering value. Close them up. Return to simplicity.
Notice how all 3 of these core principles feed into and support each other. You don't have to come at them in order, you can choose which ever one inspires you the most and start bolstering it up with some fresh action.
All self-criticism is also distraction. All of this is doable for you, it's not too late (at all), and you become such a benefit to yourself and the world by doubling down on these principles.
Let me know if this helps! If you're into it, then you'll love getting coached.