Note: This is summary of the episode Elevating Your Efficiency by Mukesh Bansal , Founder of Myntra and Cult. I recommend watching the full episode, but you can read go through the summary for quick understanding.
Let’s start with
What is NOT Productivity
- Toxic Hustle
- Following every new thing/show/trend
WHAT THESE LEAD TO?
- Dissipated energy
- Scattered attention
HOW TO PRIORITIZE?
Value vs. Effort Matrix1
Best people are prolific at one thing: Virat Kohli, A.R. Rehman, Amitabh Bacchan.
We have 4,000 weeks. We spend first 1k weeks in growing up, and last 1k in retirement. We only have 2k weeks to work. –Oliver Burkeman 2
Being Deliberate with Productivity
Productivity gets better with time, once you realize your day is in your control.
It is deeply integrated with every aspect of your day-to-day life.
- What you do during the day?
- How do you structure your day?
- What principles guide your decisions?
- Your sleep.
(make atomic changes.)
- Continuous digital engagement (Mobile Zombies)
- Unhealthy social obligations (or Fomo)
Eg: Movies to watch.
- Too many TODO checkboxes The more you try to get, the less you do, and the more you dissapoint yourself.
All procrastination is not bad. (argued later)
We tend to do that requires less cognitive strain, instead of creating momentum on solving hard problems.
- Working on other’s priorities
Attending parties and events that you didn’t wish to. Say NO more often.
- Jumping into task w/o full clarity or convition Don’t act reluctantively and do shallow work. Don’t deliver half document.
(you’d not know where your time flew by.)
Productivity & Purpose
Massive Transformative Purpose: reflects an organization’s aspiration—the core purpose of its existence. It describes the change in the world that you want to achieve while recognizing that it will not be accomplished in the short term.3 4
It’s a long ever-evolving process. Not having clarity, makes you run in every direction with zero net displacement.
WHAT EXCITES THE MOST TO YOU?
What did you do in the past that made you feel alive?
People can achieve success without clarity of purpose. But it’s not enough!
…The obituary stated, Le marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead”), and went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” Nobel read the obituary and was appalled at the idea that he would be remembered in this way.5
1 year long goal helps you know what to do in every month, next week, next day.
10 year goals change, but after 5 years you’d have better data-points to connect and re-calibrate.
10 Pages for 10 Years
How old would you be in 10 years? What do you see happening? Any goals? Any place you’d visit? JUST WRITE.
Page 1 → Page 2 → Page 3 → …. Page 10.
Convert your PURPOSE into PRODUCTIVITY SYSTEM.
Assume you have 10 points and allocate them across 4 different priorities. They should together add up to 10.
- Work = 6
- Family and Social life = 2
- Fitness and Health = 1
- Hobbies and Interest = 1
(play around. you know yourself better.)
Convert Long-term Purpose into Short-term Goals
Take last week the year. Reflect on the last year.
Plan 3-5 things to priotize the next year.
Translate annual goals into monthly/quarterly goals. (depends on your attention span and the type of goal).
Only put efforts on the priority when it’s planned. Don’t start everything the same month.
Plan your days, weeks, and vacations from there on. You can be deliberate calm on vacations and aggressive on other days.
Keep weekly tasks very specific. 5-10 tasks. How many productive hours are needed for that?
Have S.M.A.R.T. weekly goals.6
X Days = Years
Annie Dillard in The Writing Life eloquently reminds us that our daily habits shape our lives. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim.
3-4 good days = 1 good week. Eliminate bad days.
Day starts when you go to bed.
First few waking hours are least distracting. Ask what you are going to achieve today? Start the day on a positive note:
Do a physically challenging task and a cognitively challenging task before 12 noon. –Andrew D. Huberman
Easy to do in the morning. If needed to be done at night, do it 3-4 hours before going to bed.
- Stand up in meetings.
- Stairs over elevators.
A big meal makes you less focused for next 1-2 hours. Walk after having meals.
- Don’t eat at your desk. Work gets compromised.
Significant tasks require long stretches of time when you are focused only one task. Get into the flow state.
- Listening to bad news or toxic people.
- Eating the cake someone brought, or cookies from the counter
Tools to Avoid Noise
(Joy of Missing Out)
Be happy for deliberately missing out on flashy trends.
Example: I enjoy not being on Instagram. I take pride in it.
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. –Steve Jobs
Prepone deadlines. Finishing early makes you feel better. You get habitual eventually.
TAKE SHORT BREAKS
- Take few minutes between meetings.
- Reset your mind. Quick Medications.
- Go for a stroll.
- Don’t see notifications.
Last few hours of the day are very crucial.
- Lesser social interactions.
- Reflect on your day. Journal.
- Relaxing meditative practice.
- Dim lights 30 mins before sleep.
- Get into the ease mode:
- Read a page
- Listen to music
Every hour is not the same. Motivated mind has more productive time.
- Spend time in nature.
- Conversations with energetic people/entrepreneurs
- Content (sports/documentaries/biographies)
- Athletes go through same routines before every match → Visualise, gratefulness to have the opportunity.
- Our arena is our office → Ask why you are there? What really matters to us? What does this activity mean in the larger scheme of things?
(you just need one thing to be able to switch your mood.)
Productive mind welcomes problems.
Few good problems in a year is an amazing problems.
- Addressing fundamental problems on not being able to go to the gym
Subconscious mind solves for problems your active minds graples with for a long period of time.
Refer: shower thoughts, aha/eureka moments, dreams.
When was the last time, you let yourself bore?
Continuous stimulated brain doesn’t let brain process mood.
- Don’t use smarphones when not driving while commuting.
Optical Flow: The actual movement of objects past us as we walk quiets some of the circuits that are responsible for stress. –Andrew D. Huberman
One recorded ad is played year long. While recording, actors need to be productive.
They block external stimuli for days to relax.
Know something needs to be done, but let brain do the work before you do it.
Goals → (hibernate) → Strategies → (hibernate) → Planning
Don’t think about any problem.
It’s Loitering over “dopanine seeking activities”
- Meeting parents
- Talking to kids
- Moning coffee
- Sports for flow and friends over winning.
- Hobbies disconnected from work.
Leisure is of the highest virtue, not a means to an end.
We should define ourselves less by our work, and more by our leisure activities. –Aristotle
(effectively carve out these times with your weekly goals)
Book: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport
4 types of deep work7
Design a ritual for your deep work to get in the mental state.
- A desk
- DND mode
- Pen and Paper
Role of Productivity?
Work productivity ↔ (interferes) ↔ Interpersonal interactions
If you can’t be productive, the plans and strategies are useless.
- Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.8
- Relativity: When you are in relative motion, any body can be static. Reverse role and see other person’s perspective. If it is affecting you, how is it affecting the othe person.
- Energy Test: How energize do you feel after an interaction? Kunal shah uses this test to hire employees.
Know your interactions. Have deliberate limits.
A project has a clear objective, owner, budget, milestones, and deadline.
Have projects for personal life.
- Lifestyle project
- Relationship project
- Learning an objective project
Relate these projects with your annual growth plan. Growth is life.9
- Use project management tools.
- Premortem: What can go wrong with the project?
- Prepone: Finish 80% of the project in 50% of the time.
Always have deadlines.
Parkinson’s Law: Work will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion.
Create TODO lists for the projects. Eliminate 20 of those 25 tasks you will not touch. Have less bullet points.
- NOW: Needs your attention today or this week.
- OPEN: Parking area to record things that come up in your mind.
- CLOSED: Already done tasks. Helps with reflection and regular dopamine.
Write down the tasks as soon as you think of it. It beats Zeigarnik Effect and relieves your mind for the thing you are currently doing.10
Create priming habits for the start of your day or tasks.11
Eat the biggest frogs.12 Do your hardest thing first in the day.
It’s different from Multitasking. It has been discredited.13 It does not do meaningful progess in any task.
Layering: Primary activity + Background activity.
- Walk + Listen to music
- Workout + Listen to podcast
Deep work for sustained period of time derives outstanding productivity. Follow digital minimalism.
Write few pages about the problem you are working on. Dump everything. Organize.
It helps you see bigger picture, goals, assumptions, etc. Amazon uses a six pager before meetings to bring everyone on the same page.14
Macro → Micro
Long-term purpose → Short-term goals and tasks.
Uncluttered → Clarity
Productivity is not doing more things, but fewer things very very well.
Good is enemy of great.
Productivity does not happen overnight. It’s compounds with time in every aspect of life. It’s also a muscle.
We have limited time. Utilizing it well is the most important aspect of life. Productivity is liberating. You can do amazing things in the limited amount of time.
Don’t do everything simultaneously. Start with one.