Tag Archives: productivity

Introduce laughter into the workplace :)

Introduce laughter into the workplace

May 03

Introduce laughter into the workplace

The greatest of all miracles is health. Every day, our bodies are attacked by millions of microbes, viruses and bacteria. The body is able to repulse these invaders and protect itself through the immune response. The body’s immune response is enhanced by laughter.

Laughter is internal jogging. It fills your mind space with positive emotions. Emotionally, it is relaxing, reducing harmful muscle tension. A good bout of laughter also reduces the levels of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol. Laughter strengthens the immune system, keeping away infections, allergies and diseases.

Our immune system plays a very important role in maintaining good health. It has been proven by immunologists that all negative emotions like anxiety, depression or anger weaken the immune system of the body, thereby reducing its capacity to fight infections. Laughter heals and rejuvenates without costly
prescription drugs.

Action Plan to Bring Laughter in your Office

  • Organize screenings of comedy Films and shows.
  • Encourage cheerful people to spread good Cheer.
  • Create a humor committee.
  • Smile. Do not smother laughter.
  • Organize a family day.
  • Exhibit humorous posters and Cartoons on a Humor Board in the work area.

If you work from home, take a break and watch something funny and laugh. Do not hold back.


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Summary of Eat That Frog | a method to rival #gtd?

A frog eating a goat by Chris

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy is an excellent synthesis of much of the existing productivity literature to date, achieving about 80% of the total benefits from time management.  My summary here attempts to condense the book into a few pages of critical insights, organized into four primary sections: organization, efficiency, identifying your strengths, and optimizing yourself.  Implementing even a small number of these techniques will result in greatly increased effectiveness.

DO NOT WAIT, the time will never be right

Seven Step Method

  1. Decide exactly what you want
  2. Write it down – thinking on paper is critical
  3. Set a deadline on your goal
  4. List the steps necessary for achievement
  5. Organize the list into a plan (priority and sequence, visual layout)
  6. Take action on your plan immediately
  7. Do something every day to move closer to that goal

Reasons for procrastination (and their solutions)

  • vagueness/confusion around objectives and how and why to accomplish them (write down goals, list specific steps)
  • feeling of inadequacy, lack of confidence, inability in key area of task (identify and learn key skills)
  • attempting to begin task while fatigued (protect energy level with diet, exercise, regular breaks/vacations)
  • important tasks seem large and formidable upon first approach (resolve to do single step or limited time period)


Always Work From a List

Four lists: master list (to capture all ideas), monthly, weekly, daily

  • Make a list of every step needed to complete project, organize by priority and sequence
  • Just go as far as you can see, and be confident will be able to see farther at that future point
  • Make the next daily/weekly/monthly list at the end of the previous day/week/month
  • Transfer items from Master -> Monthly -> Weekly -> Daily
  • When a new task comes up, add to list before doing it
  • Tick off items as you complete them

ABCDE Method

Place letter next to each item

  • A: task you must complete, very important, major positive/negative consequences (rank many A items with A-1, etc.)
  • B: task you should complete, mild consequences
  • C: task is optional, would like to do but no consequences attached
  • D: task can be delegated, do so ASAP
  • E: task can be eliminated without any real difference

Never do a B task when an A task is left incomplete

Begin Immediately and Persist Until the Task is Complete

  • Once you know the highest-value task, everything else is a relative waste of time
  • Take action on the most important task first thing every morning
  • Once you start, keep working to full completion (task switching costs are a major time sink)
  • Notice if you are becoming distracted by conversation or low-value activity
  • Most identifiable sign of high-performing people is action-orientation, they are in a hurry to complete key tasks
  • Urgency will generate action instead of discussion: focusing on specific steps, concentrating on results

Tricks to Get Started

  • It is easier to commit to doing a small piece of work, and momentum often keeps us working beyond the initial steps
  • Divide large/complex projects into distinct smaller steps, and resolve to do one of them
  • Resolve to work for a specific short time period, as little as 5-10 minutes (even shorter works too)

Create Deadlines

  • Imagine you have to leave town tomorrow, what absolutely must be done before you go?
  • Set deadlines (and sub-deadlines as appropriate) for every task and activity
  • Determine how many minutes/hours each task will require, add a 20% buffer, then make it into a game to beat your own estimates

Create Blocks of Time

  • Set aside 30/60/90 minute blocks for important tasks
  • Getting up early and working for hours before going to work is a key productivity habit
  • Time planner on day/hour/minute level enables you to see and consolidate blocks of time
  • Plan your day in advance and schedule fixed time periods for particular activities (e.g. sales calls 10-11 AM)
  • During these work times, turn off electronic communication, eliminate any distractions, work nonstop
  • Use transition periods (“gifts of time”) to complete small steps in larger tasks
  • If you fly often, plane rides are a great unbroken block of time, plan your work for the entire duration

Review your goals and performance at the end of every day/week/month


Three Questions for Maximum Productivity

  • What are my highest value activities?  (Think to yourself, then ask others)
  • What can I and only I do that if done well will make a real difference?
  • What is the most valuable use of my time right now?

The more accurate your answers are to these questions, the easier it will be to set priorities and do the most valuable task (epistemic rationality!)

Apply 80/20 Rule to Everything

  • Law of Forced Efficiency: There is never enough time to do everything, but there is enough time to do the most important things
  • A handful of your tasks are likely much more valuable than any of the others
  • You get your time and life under control only insofar as you discontinue low-value activities
  • If you want to add something new, you must complete or discontinue something old
  • Completing high-value tasks is more satisfying
  • Continually review responsibilities to identify tasks which can be delegated/eliminated without loss

The most powerful word is “no”

  • Say no to anything not a clear high-value use of time
  • Say it clearly so that there are no miscommunications
  • Say it regularly as part of your time-management strategy
  • Say it early and often!

Question to Ask: “If I were not doing this already, knowing what I know now, would I start doing it again today?”

Improve Rate-Limiting Steps

  • There is always a rate-limiting step in every task
  • Identify that choke point, and make a single-minded effort to weaken that constraint
  • 80% of the limiting factors exist internally within you or your organization
  • Take an honest look at self and company, accept responsibility for your life and look to yourself for both the cause and cure of the problem
  • Accurate identification of the limiting factor can bring about huge progress quickly, otherwise you solve the wrong problem (epistemic rationality!)
  • The key constraint may be small and not entirely obvious, make a list of every step in a process
  • Behind every rate-limiting step is another one, so target the next one and alleviate that as quickly as possible


  • What is holding you back?
  • What sets the speed at which you achieve your goals?
  • What determines how fast you move from here to there?
  • What holds you back from doing the most important tasks?
  • Why haven’t you already achieved your goal?


  • Clear everything off your desk until only the task at hand is in front of you
  • Have everything you need to complete task in hand before you begin
  • Make your work area comfortable, attractive, and conducive to working long periods
  • Once you complete preparations, begin working immediately
  • Assume the body language of high-performance: sit up straight, sit forward away from back of chair

Electronic Communication

  • DO NOT check voicemail/e-mail first thing in the morning
  • Tech is your friend, there to increase speed/efficiency/accuracy of information transfer, but can be addictive
  • Just because someone sends you an e-mail does not mean you have an obligation to respond (if the e-mail is important enough, the sender will resend)
  • Delete 80% of e-mails unread immediately. Only 20% of those remaining are urgent, put the rest in a file to respond later
  • Create zones of silence in your life where no one or nothing can reach you
  • Maintain inner calm by pausing on a regular basis to listen to the silence

Identifying Your Strengths

What Are Your Unique Talents?

Do what you love to do, and do it well!

  • What gets you the most compliments/praise?
  • What affects the performance of other people the most?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I really good at?
  • What do I enjoy the most about my work?
  • What has been the most responsible for my success?
  • If I could do any job at all, what would it be?
  • If I won the lottery, what work would I choose to do?

Rule of Three

Three core tasks provide most of your value, focus on optimizing those

In thirty seconds, write down your three most important goals in life right now

  • Giving people longer rarely results in different answers
  • In most cases people have a financial/career goal, a personal relationship goal, and a health/fitness goal.

Expand to three most important goals in:

  • Business/career
  • Family/relationship
  • Financial
  • Health
  • Personal/professional development
  • Social/community
  • Biggest problems or concerns in life

Key Result Areas

Your work can usually be broken down into 5-7 key result areas (KRA), where you are completely responsible

  • Make a list of important output responsibilities, tasks which feed into others
  • Determine key result areas and grade yourself on 1-10 scale
  • Your performance is only as strong as your weakest KRA
  • We tend to avoid jobs where we performed poorly in the past
  • Refuse to rationalize/justify/defend weakness, instead identify clearly, and make a plan to improve

Big Seven in management: planning, organization, staffing, delegating, supervising, measuring, reporting

Big Seven in sales: prospecting, building rapport and trust, identifying needs, presenting persuasively, answering objections, closing the sale, getting resales and referrals

Question to Ask: “What one skill would have the greatest positive impact on my life?” (ask others as well)

Optimize Self

Skill Acquisition

  • Identify the most important things you do, and make a plan to continually upgrade those skills
  • You can learn any skills necessary to be more productive/effective

Three Steps to Mastery:

  • Read in your field at least one hour/day
  • Take every course/seminar available on key skills
  • Listen to audio during downtime

3 D’s of New Habit Formation

  1. Decision to learn new habit
  2. Discipline to practice
  3. Determination to persist until habit is encoded

Optimizing Mood

  • To perform at your best, you need to be in a good mood!
  • Level of self-esteem is critically important for motivation and persistence
  • The way you interpret things determines how you feel
  • Resolve to become an optimist

Four Behaviors of Optimists:

  • Look for the good in every situation
  • Seek the valuable lesson in setback/difficulty
  • Look for the solution to every problem (vs. blame/complain)
  • Think and talk continually about your goals

The biggest enemies are fear of failure/rejection and accompanying doubts

  • The way to overcome fear is to do precisely that thing
  • Act as if you already had the courage and behave accordingly

State maxims to yourself on a regular schedule, to internalize positive beliefs


  • Imagine being your future awesome self, self-image has a powerful effect on behavior
  • Visualize how the world would look with your goals completed

Generate Intrinsic Motivation

  • See yourself as role model for others
  • Set higher standands for yourself than others set for you
  • Make it into a game!

Energy Level is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for Motivation

  • Utilize the specific time of the day when you are at your best for top-priority tasks
  • Sometimes your best use of time is indeed to quit early and get a lot of sleep
  • Take one full day off every week: no work or electronic communication or anything taxing. Instead do activities which replenish you
  • Take regular vacations every year, both weekends and 1-2 week breaks

Big three for energy level:

  1. Sleep
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise


  • What am I doing physically that I should do more of?
  • What am I doing that I should do less of?
  • What am I not doing that I should start doing to maximize performance?
  • What am I doing that affects my health should I stop doing entirely?

Work/life balance is not optional

  • Time management is a means to an end: freeing up time to do the things you love
  • The more in-person time you spend with loved ones, the happier you will be
  • What matters is quality of time at work and quantity of time in rest of life
  • When you work, work – wasted work time comes out of personal life

You are shaping yourself into a new, superior human being.  Be an ascending spiral of personal effectiveness.



3 #productivity Experts, inc Author of #gtd

Productivity experts are a dime a dozen. It seems like every other person who starts to follow me on Twitter is a self-proclaimed productivity expert of one kind or another. It’s definitely one of those industries where it can be very hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, to find a productivity expert that isn’t just “self-proclaimed”, but actually is a bona fide expert who can help people and companies alike to increase their productivity.

So, what makes a great productivity expert, anyway? It’s a combination of results, writing/professional credentials, and a unique take on the world when viewed through the lens of increasing and dissecting productivity.

The list below is by no means comprehensive, so don’t take it to heart if your favorite productivity expert didn’t make the list below. If you were going to make a list of every single great and renowned productivity expert, the list would be too long to read.

Without further ado, here are a few of the best productivity experts, along with information about their credentials.

1. Jason Jennings

Author of: “LESS IS MORE: How Great Companies Use Productivity as a Competitive Tool in Business”, “Hit the Ground Running”, “Think Big, Act Small”, “It’s Not The Big That Eat The Small – It’s The Fast That Eat The Slow”

Credentials: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Business Week Magazine Top 10 Bestseller

Personal History: Early in his career, he founded he consulting firm Jennings-McGlothlin & Company, which eventually became the largest media consultancy in the world.

Today, he does as many as 80 keynote speeches in a year. In “Less is More”, Jennings profiled companies from a bunch of different sectors, and was able to determine how they were able to function consistently at peak productivity, allowing them to be incredibly successful.

Quote: “The 10 most productive companies in the world…believe that you make incredible amounts of money as a byproduct of the incredible things you do.” In other words, the purpose of business isn’t to make money, it is to make money by making great products.

2. Jim Collins

Author of: “How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In”, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” (on the Business Week best-seller list for more than six years), and “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap…And Others Don’t” (sold 2.5 million copies has been translated into 32 languages.)

Credentials: Degree from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Published in USA Today, Former senior executive at CNN International.

Personal History: After graduating from Stanford, Collins founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado in 1995. He has worked with Johns Hopkins and the United States Marine Corps. He is perhaps best known for being a proponent of “fixed-schedule productivity”, and maintaining your work-life balance by dividing your work time into percentages based on long-term career and life goals.

Quote: “A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally important, what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit — to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort — that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company or, most important of all, a life.”

3. David Allen

Author of: “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”, “Making It All Work”, and “Ready for Everything”

Credentials: Featured blogger at the Huffington Post, one of the “Top 100 thought leaders” by Leadership Magazine, one of the top five executive coaches working in the United States according to Forbes magazine.

Personal History: Founder and CEO of the David Allen Company, he has been called “One of the world’s most influential thinkers” by Fast Company. His works have been published in 28 languages, and he has worked in a wide variety of fields prior to starting his company, including jobs as a karate teacher, travel agent, and moped salesman.

Quote: “You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it “done.”

Wrapping Up

We could go on and on. We haven’t even scratched the surface of other big names like Roger Martin or Peggy Duncan. It takes serious cred to become a noted productivity expert, and there are plenty of smart people out there who definitely deserve that designation.

Which productivity experts do you respect the most? Tell us who you think really puts the “pro” in productivity in the comments below!


CARVER Method for Prioritizing Your To-Do List

By now you’ve probably heard that one of the best ways to become more productive is by prioritizing the items on your to do list. It’s no longer about finding clever hacks so that you can cross off every item on your list.  The new productivity paradigm states that you need to decide what’s most important, and make sure that you tackle those tasks first.  Lower priority tasks can be crossed off your list.

But how do you prioritize your to do list? How do you decide which tasks should get done first, and which ones you can draw a line across without feeling any guilt?  By using the CARVER Method.

The CARVER Method is a matrix developed by the United States military to help them with target selection. I learned about this tool in the book “Unleash the Warrior Within” by Richard “Mack” Machowicz. The military uses this tool to calculate which is the most attractive target for an attack. The main objective of the matrix is to make sure that resources are used as efficiently as possible.

CARVER is an acronym that stands for the following:

  • C- Criticality
  • A- Accessibility
  • R- Recuperability
  • V – Vulnerability
  • E – Effect
  • R – Recognizability

Each of these elements is described below.  In addition, we’ll use the goal or objective of increasing blog subscribers as an example so that you can see the matrix in action.  Please note that the method has been modified so that it’s applicable to a non-military setting.

The CARVER Method – Criticality

The first element of the CARVER Method–criticality–addresses the following question: How critical or significant is this target?

Once you’ve set the goal of increasing your blog subscribers, you need to generate a list of different ways in which you can accomplish this goal (your potential to do list items).  For example, you could come up with the following eight ways to increase blog subscribers:

  • Write 5 guest posts for large blogs.
  • Create a Facebook Fan Page.
  • Get a professional design for your blog.
  • Create a free eBook to offer subscribers as a freebie for subscribing.
  • Hold a contest or giveaway.
  • Go through old posts and optimize them so that they’re found by the search engines, thus bringing you more traffic.
  • Find a great plugin that makes it easy for others to share your content on social media sites.
  • Find new Twitter followers so that they tweet your blog posts.

Each of the eight methods described above has the potential to help you achieve your goal of increasing your blog subscribers, but some are more critical–or necessary to help you achieve your goal–than the others.

As an illustration, spending lots of time trying to get new Twitter followers is low on the criticality scale since you don’t need a lot of Twitter followers in order to increase your blog subscribers.  On a scale from 1 to 5, this item would probably get a 1. In fact, you can have a large blog with lots of subscribers without even having a Twitter account.

However, if your blog has a poor design, and you have a high bounce rate, getting a professional design would probably be very critical in helping you to get new blog subscribers.  After all, a person forms an impression about your site in about 3 seconds.  If your design gives them a bad first impression, they probably won’t even give your content a chance.  On a scale from 1 to 5, this item would probably get a 5.

You then go down the list of all the potential to do list items and score them on criticality on a scale from 1 to 5. Then you move on to the next CARVER element and do the same thing.

The CARVER Method – Accessibility

The second element of the CARVER Method–accessibility–answers these questions:

  • Do you have what you need–or can you easily get what you need–in order to knock down this target?
  • Do you have the skills that are necessary in order to tackle this item?

Maybe you don’t know how to create a Facebook Fan Page, but creating a fan page is free, and there’s a lot of information on the Internet that can teach you how to create one.  Therefore, this would probably get a 3 on a scale from 1 to 5 for accessibility.

On the other hand, getting a professional blog design can be expensive, and if you don’t have the money to pay for it right now, this would probably get a 1 on the accessibility element. It’s not accessible to you at the moment since you can’t afford it.

The CARVER Method – Recuperability

The third element of the CARVER Method–recuperability–is about the return that you’re going to get on your investment, and how fast you’re going to see results.  For example, if you send guest posts to five different large blogs, you’ll probably have to wait from 6 to 8 weeks before they publish them, because of the large numbers of guest posts which large blogs receive.  This task would probably get a 2 or a 3 in recuperability.

Writing an eBook which you can give away as a gift to entice people to subscribe to your blog is something you could do in about three weeks.  Therefore, writing an eBook to give away to new subscribers would probably get a 4 on the recuperability scale.

The CARVER Method – Vulnerability

The fourth element of the CARVER Method–vulnerability–asks the following question: How easy is it to knock down this target?

Suppose that you want to optimize one of your old blog posts so that it ranks well for a particular keyword.  If you’ve chosen a very popular keyword, then it’s probably going to be very difficult for you to appear on the first page of Google for that keyword.  That is, that target is not vulnerable; it would probably get a 1 on the vulnerability scale.

If you’ve noticed that there’s a gap in your niche which you can easily fill by writing a short eBook to give away to new subscribers, then giving away a free eBook would get a 5 on the vulnerability scale.  There’s a need which you can easily fill, so that target is easy for you to knock down; it’s vulnerable.

The CARVER Method – Effect

The fifth element of the CARVER Method–effect–asks this question: How much will this item move you closer toward achieving your stated goal?

Submitting guest posts to large blogs is very likely to get you new subscribers, so it would have a strong positive effect on your goal of getting new subscribers.  This item would get a 5 for effect. Finding a great plugin so that others can easily share your blog posts on social media sites probably won’t help you get lots of new subscribers, so this item would get a 1 for effect.

The CARVER Method – Recognizability

The last element of the CARVER Method is recognizability.  This element asks these questions:

  • Is this project easy to understand?
  • Are the steps to completion clear?

Even if you create a Facebook Fan Page, do you understand the steps that you need to take in order to use that fan page as a way to attract new subscribers?  If not, then this element would get a 1 for recognizability.

If you’ve submitted guest posts to large blogs in the past, then you know exactly which are the steps that you need to take in order to get a guest post accepted.  At the same time, once your post is published, this task is completed. Therefore, this item gets a 5 for recognizability.

The Matrix

The CARVER Matrix looks like this:

Increasing Blog Subscribers
Target C A R V E R Total
Guest Posts
Professional Design
Free eBook

As you can see, the tasks which you’re trying to prioritize go on the column to the left (under the heading “target”).

Then, you insert the score on a scale from 1 to 5 that you assigned for each of the CARVER elements regarding that task. The next step is to add up all the numbers horizontally and that gives you a total. The task with the highest total is the one that you should tackle first. The one with the second highest score is the one that you should tackle second, and so on. You can cross out the items that receive the lowest scores.


If you would like see another example of the CARVER Method applied to a non-military setting, the blog Gaijinass has an interesting example on how to apply the CARVER Method in a management setting.

Stop trying to guess which item on your to do list you should get to first.  Prioritize your to do list based on which items are most likely to help you achieve your intended goal with the least amount of resources.

(The Pentagon is courtesy of mindfrieze).



Guest Post: 11 Simple Strategies to Regain Life Balance


Maintaining a healthy life balance is not only crucial for happiness and well-being; it can be advantageous to your productivity and success as well. A well-balanced person is better equipped to focus their attention and energy on achieving their goals, accomplishing meaningful actions and moving forward.

Each of us has different life situations, many things pulling us in different directions and a whole host of other factors that we collectively call our lives. Despite these dissimilarities, we all seem to be feeling the same challenge to make it all work somehow.

So, what can you do to regain a positive work-life balance? Or maintain that equilibrium once you find it? How about trying some of these strategies that have worked for others!

  • Shut it off – Disconnect on the weekend, at least for one day or a few hours each night. Step away from the computer, turn off the phone and give your brain a rest. Yes, you can do it!
  • Health first – It seems like we’re beating a dead horse sometimes, but it really does make a difference in the quality of our lives and our work if we: get enough sleep, drink more water, fit in some activity and eat a bit healthier.
  • Cut back – It goes without saying that if your life is too full of the wrong things (sometimes even too much of the right things) you will never be able to pull it all together and find your balance. Ruthlessly trim activities that are not absolutely necessary or do not add value to your life.
  • Relationships matter – Make time for your family, spend time with friends and get to know the people around you.
  • Say goodbye to “Negative Nancy” – Minimize contact with people that are negative, complainers, whiners or have bad attitudes. You know who I mean…you do not need other people’s junk dragging you down. Surround yourself with positive, supportive, can-do people whenever possible.
  • Get quiet – Time alone is probably the hardest thing to do for the typical overworked, overwhelmed, busy individual, but it is crucial for lowering stress, increasing happiness and fostering creativity. Meditate, journal, draw, practice yoga or simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and do absolutely nothing. I dare you to give it a try!
  • Soak up the world – Take a walk and notice what’s going on around you, attend a performance of some kind, play amateur photographer, visit a new town or try being a tourist in your own.
  • Expand your mind – Read a book that sparks your interest, listen to uplifting music with the circle of fifths, take a class, learn to paint, try something new that you’ve always wanted to learn.
  • Indulge – Get a massage, a pedicure or a facial. It doesn’t have to be expensive; a glass of wine, a special kind of coffee or tea, a wonderfully scented candle or beautiful flowers.
  • Reach out – Join a community organization, volunteer, get involved in the larger world community. It seems counterintuitive to the average person living the typical hectic existence, but doing something to help others most often adds even more to your life.
  • Laugh – Have some fun, find your sense of humor, subscribe to a daily joke or get a tear-off calendar. Nothing makes the world feel right again as fast as a good old-fashioned belly laugh.

Royale Scuderi is a personal productivity expert and author. She blogs about productivity tips, tools and strategies at http://www.productivelifeconcepts.com. Her mission is to help you to work smarter and live better! You too can have business success and life satisfaction through increased efficiency, organization, clarity of purpose, motivation and awareness.

Photo credit: Gau Gorri

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#Productivity Tricks of Famous People: for writers, entrepreneurs, artists & thinkers

Famous visionaries often develop a reputation for having a few eccentricities. However, for many people, these small eccentricities are part of a larger group of daily rituals that help them to be at their most productive and prolific. While not all these tips, tricks, and rituals will work for you, they help to shed light on what some of our most beloved cultural icons and historical figures are willing to do in order to stay on top of their demanding workloads.


1. Addicted to Notecards: Vladimir Nabokov used 5- by 8-inch index cards to compose and order the scenes in his novels. This allowed him to experiment with the order of the chapters before transcribing the final manuscript.

2. Slow and Steady: Stephen King has explained that he always writes 10 pages a day, every day of the year (even holidays). His slow and steady approach to project management has ensured that he has a steady stream of new works entering the marketplace, and he is one of the most prolific modern authors working in America today.

3. Get Up Early: Writers like Mary Higgins Clark and Sylvia Plath started writing at 5 am and 4 am each day, respectively. Both women had small children, and those early moments in the day were the only time they had to pursue their writing careers. Writer Denison Hatch forced himself to write just 500 words per day before starting his day job, and ultimately sold three novels.

4. Get Centered With a Favorite Book Passage: Some writers need to go through the ritual of touching base with a favorite literary totem. For example, Somerset Maugham would read Voltaire’s “Candide” before starting work, while Willa Cather read the Bible.

Businessmen and Entrepreneurs

5. Be Impulsive: In business, if you have a good idea, you need to move quickly to keep ahead of your competition. In the words of Bill Gates, “When you find a good idea act on it right away.”

6. Get Ahead By Making It Personal: “Big businesses will always try to crush small upstarts. To beat big businesses, use the strengths of being small. Big corporations are impersonal; staff are often not treated well. At a small company, you can make sure your staff are proud of working for you and then they’ll work hard to be successful. And small companies are more nimble.” – Sir Richard Branson

7. Work Long Hours Now, Reap the Benefits Later: Ben Franklin knew the benefits of working long hours, as well as being known among his peers as being a person who worked long hours. This work ethic was essential for growing his printing business. He also had a routine of asking himself questions during the day. Ben Franklin asked himself each morning (at 5 am), “What good shall I do today?”; every night before bed (around 10 pm), “What good have I done to-day?”

Thinkers and Artists

8. Get Extreme: Architect Bernard Tschumi avoids procrastination by working at one of two extremes. “I work best either under pressure or by emptying my brain over the weekend,” he explains. “That blank state is helpful. It is like an athlete before a competition.”

9. Force Yourself to Stay Focused: Greek orator Demosthenes would force himself to stay focused on composing his orations by shaving off half of his hair, making him look so ridiculous that he wouldn’t be tempted to procrastinate by leaving his home. Victor Hugo would do something similar, forcing himself to meet his daily writing goals by having his valet hide his clothes. Yup, the guy who wrote “Les Miserables” liked to work in the nude.

10. Never Take Your Eyes Off Your Competition: Playwright Henrik Ibsen would work at a desk decorated with a portrait of arch-rival playwright August Strindberg. Try keeping a picture of your competitors face or company logo on your desk to spur you to new heights.

11. Use Caffeine (But Don’t Abuse It): Mathematician Paul Erdös used the last 25 years of his life to devote 19 hour days to the pursuit of higher math. To stay alert, he amped himself up with 10 to 20 milligrams of Benzedrine or Ritalin (along with strong espresso and caffeine tablets.) “A mathematician,” he said, “is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.”

12. Blow Off Some Steam: King Otto, ruler of Bavaria from 1886 to 1913, shot a peasant every morning to start his day. Thankfully, his two advisors were kind-hearted: one gave the king a rifle filled with blanks, and the other dressed as a “peasant”, acting out death throes when he was “shot”. While shooting people is absolutely NOT okay, never underestimate the stress relief you can get from a few rounds of Call of Duty.


These examples of the daily routines and productivity tricks of famous people may not be ideally suited for your busy lifestyle, but they are certainly worth keeping in mind the next time you are stuck on a project and need help powering through. And seriously, don’t pull a “King Otto”. That would not be cool.

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