Find out which 5 things I customized in my life to become more successful with less effort. And you can be inspired to do the same.
Hard working can always be done later
I love to work hard – do not get me wrong. Hard work is necessary and valuable. And that’s an important reason I wake up every day and think my life is great fun.
But let’s not romanticize it. Because although I often work hard, hard work ’is not my usual preference.
Not that I just want to be lazy. I’ve tried that – but I wasn’t happy. No, what I aim for is a natural pace where I make progression in the direction of my goals. At the same time I am happy, calm and loving to myself and my surroundings.
In recent years, I have made five major adjustments in my life. I have written about each of these things before, but I think it’s valuable to put them all in one place, together. I think these five things can also help you to be more successful with less effort.
Because work is fun and everything. But a cup of tea, a good book and my favorite coffee shop – that’s often more fun.
#1. How short sprints make everything better
I have stolen the sprints from scrum, an extensive and hippie productivity framework designed for programmers.
Now, I’m too lazy for all the administration that it comes with (and I write more words than code), but integrating sprints has made my life so much better.
What is a sprint? Simple:
- You select a well-defined task
- You choose a time window
- You set a goal
- You get started with full focus
Just like a sprinter, you give all your energy in a short space of time, after which you can relax.
This has a number of advantages:
- I work with much more focus, which gives me better quality while it takes less effort.
- I feel less distracted because I know exactly what to do. That gives rest.
- After the sprint I give my self a day off- I do not make it a marathon. That motivates me to work for a while so I can lounge without guilt.
- It makes my work very compact. I know that I write articles on Monday till 4 o clock. And that leaves me free to do other things for the rest of the week.
#2. Work retreats (follow the palm trees)
As I wrote this I’m fighting jet lag with the above-mentioned cup of tea. Two days ago I returned from Singapore, where I went to write my first book.
Write a book on a tropical island – that was my plan. A work retreat. I pulled myself back with a very specific purpose, and it succeeded. After 30 days, the book is not finished but I’ve been able to write the full first version.
It sounds intense, but it was surprisingly relaxing. How did my days look?
- I rolled out of my bed at 09:00.
- I first meditated for 20 minutes on the beach and then took a dive in the swimming pool.
- I had breakfast and tea in a nice breakfast shop along the road or (my favorite) on the beach under the palm trees.
- After breakfast I pulled out my laptop and started typing with a second tea.
- Round 12 o’clock it was time for a lunch break. Most of the time we went to a nice lunch shop, where I typed a bit more after lunch.
My goal was 2,000 words a day, I had already written a few chapters before I went on a trip. But after that morning, I often had 3-4 thousand words,which reduced the working pressure every day.
- In the afternoon it was time for beach, swimming pool, hike in the jungle, slipping in a water park and watching a movie.
- In the evening we went for a good meal, having a drink and chilling.
- And before I knew it, between the delicious food, I had written a book. That’s the magic of a work retreat.
If you want to complete an important, demarcated project, a work retreat can do miracles. This trip was my most extensive work retreat so far. But in recent years, I’ve spent almost every winter in a holiday park to finish a project, then jump into the wild water course.
In subtropical swimming paradises where there are also palm trees.
#3. I do not allow myself to get distracted
If you try to get things done, it’s vital that you keep your attention on that one activity. For that reason I am very rigorous in deleting distractions.
You know – I could do a lot of things that seem to be fun but ultimately do not yield anything. Every day, we receive emails with inspiring suggestions and offers to collaborate. But the problem is, the more I shatter my attention, the less value I can add.
So I’ve become very good at saying no. Not only to others but also to myself. Because I’m crazy about starting new projects. But once it gets too difficult, I tend to drop the project. And all valuable things need effort. So I just do not get into it anymore.
I focus my attention on the few activities that add value to my readers and me the most, and I throw the rest overboard.
In addition, I do not easily let my attention be cut by others. Notifications on my phone are strictly set, and only dear friends and relatives come through immediately.
By holding my attention I get more done with less stress.
#4. Do not make a kettle of my brain
I stopped multitasking because I found that my brain changed into a kettle.
Constantly jumping from task to task makes me irritated, stressed and generally a person to stay away from. Hence my move toward sprints and work retreats. And work with full attention – it works like a crazy to achieve a lot without the steam coming out of my ears.
And I’m not alone – the myth of multitasking has been broken in so many ways that it’s time to treat our brain with a little more compassion.
Do one task at a time with full attention. It saves stress, makes you more productive and improves the quality of your work.
#5. Convert Fridays into free days
I have been more productive, happier, more successful and calmer since I no longer work on Friday.
- I learned that working 7 days a week does not work. That’s why in 2009, I chose to have days off during the weekends.
- Just last year, I decided to experiment with free Fridays – and I never looked back.
- I’ve found that weekends are always a day too short. Mondays are usually my most productive days, so I wanted to keep that.
So Friday is my day of freedom and happiness.
I give my free days the theme of personal growth. The idea is that I do not waste my day on video games, but I do things that help me get better at something I want to develop.
Fridays are therefore used for things like:
- Read great books that fill my life with new thoughts, insights, inspiration and ideas.
- Invest in relationships that are important to me.
- Invest in my health, for example by sports or prepping healthy meals.
- Take time to meditate for an hour.
- Clean up at home.
- Brainstorm in my notebook to think about how to solve obstacles and problems in the most elegant way.
And do not worry, usually I do just one of these things. It shouldn’t feel like work, of course. The rule is, above all: do something useful or creative that does not look like the work which I do the rest of the week.
And because I’m so fond of my free Fridays, I automatically make sure that I have arranged everything on Thursday for the weekend. Because of that I work with more focus, get more done in less time, feel much happier and freer.
Really – it’s pretty stuff.
And I have more tips for you
Exactly. Like this article, with tips to be ridiculously productive thanks to two surprising techniques. And, of course, this online course comes with an effective roadmap for more development of discipline and less postponement.
So you can finally complete your tasks, achieve your goals, fulfill your dreams and build your ideal life. Step by step, with more fun and less stress.
I know – it sounds too good to be true. But you know – that also applies to washing machines, dishwashers, smartphones and the internet. And yet they exist.
If you know what you want, you only have to figure out how to do it. You can always get closer with small steps, which make everything more fun.
Fun – that’s it. So turn off Netflix and do something useful to make your life more fun. Just take a small step. And if you’ve done that, you can reward yourself with one hour Netflix. That feels much better.