32 Productivity Tips From Experts: How to be more productive

November 14, 2020

Productivity tips from the experts

In 2020 there’s hundreds of productivity apps, methods, and tools aimed at helping us keep track of everything from our daily schedule to our todo lists. Everyone has their preference, but which ones do the super productive and hyper-optimised experts value most?

Here we’ve asked 32 productivity pros “which one tool or method can you simply not live without in 2020 and why not?”. The productivity tips we received from these 32 experts covered a lot of ground and we are sure they will help you on your productivity journey. We’ve listed the responses below.

Before we get going, if you’re a productivity expert and would like to be featured in this article then you can give us your productivity tips here.

1. Encourage Habits

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Hochman Guy, PhD

Dr. Hochman is head of the Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology’s Behavioral Economics program. His research focusses the cognitive processes that underlie decision making.

“Our research show that often, habits are a force of inertia – we do what we did in the past. Thus, the best habit-forming method is to encourage desired behaviours (by using incentives, choice architecture, etc.)”

 

2. Urgent/Important Principle – Eisenhower Matrix

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Maurits Kalff (@MauritsKalff)

Maurits Kalff is a psychologist, coach, trainer and magistrate, based in London. He set up a coaching psychology practice, working in both the public and private sector. From working with people living with chronic illness to investment bankers, the focus is on quality of life, fulfilling careers and relationships.

“Ticking off a long to do list can give a feeling of being productive but it doesn’t mean we have made actual progress on what matters most. Productivity is often confused with efficiency (doing things well and timely).

What really matters is to link productivity to being effective (doing the right thing.) Productivity starts with prioritising and then getting it done. For that, the Eisenhower Matrix is very helpful and, indeed, productive.”

 

 

3. Financial Incentives

Emmanuella Howells (@emmHowells)

Emmanuella is a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. She started out as a psychologists and has gone on to be named as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Business. 

“I couldn’t recommend Objektiv highly enough. It is an evidenced based productivity app that you can use to get things done, maintain, and form new habits.

I love that it specifically focuses on getting you to state how you will achieve your goals rathe than making vague and empty promises. It then financially incentivises you to complete the necessary work to get there.”

 

5. Develop habits – 411

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Jay Papasan (@jaypapasan)

Writer and business exec. Having authored The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, which became both New York Times and BusinessWeek best-sellers, and The ONE Thing, which reached #1 on the Wall Street Journal business best-seller list, Jay knows a thing or two about productivity and goal setting.

“Most people don’t need a new technique for setting goals, the need a way to build a relationship with them. The 411 creates a weekly rhythm to remind you what you said was important and encourage you to invest time in what matters.”

 

6. Split the work – Trello

Ari Meisel (@arimeisel)

Author of the “Less Doing” philosophy and offers coaching programs and online courses that teach entrepreneurs to be more productive.

“Trello makes it so everyone in my company knows what they are responsible at any given time, including me. We are able to manage multiple projects and move quickly.”

 

7. Focus your mind – Brain.fm

Erik Fisher (@ErikJFisher)

Productivity Podcaster at Beyond The Todo List.

“I use Brain.fm for better sleep, relaxation, naps, meditation and especially focus. I use it on my desktop, phone and tablet for any time I need to get into a certain brain space by listening to their music.”

8. Just One?

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David Allen (@gtdguy)

A pioneer in the productivity world for over 3 decades. Author of the hugely influential Getting Things Done time management method and with over 1M twitter followers, David can answer how he likes. Who are we to question his need for more than one tool?

“IBM Notes, eProductivity (GTD app for Notes), Word, Excel, Quicken, Evernote, DropBox, Snagit. It would be hard to live without any of them.”

 

9. Control Your Attention – Being Indistractable

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Nir Eyal (@nireyal)

Author, lecturer, and investor. Nir is best known for his bestselling book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Having sold over 200,000 copies, it’s become stalwart in the entrepreneurship community.

Being Indistractable is the skill of the century. It’s not about the tools, it’s about knowing the difference between traction and distraction.”

10. Keep it simple with – A notebook

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Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam)

Laura helps people spend more time on what matters, and less on what doesn’t. Laura is the author of several time management and productivity books including the hugely influential Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done and Juliet’s School of Possibilities.

“On Fridays, I make myself a short, 3-category list of priorities for the upcoming week: career, relationships, self. The upside of making a 3-category list is that it’s really hard to leave a category blank! So that right there nudges me to have a more balanced life. I list my priorities and then figure out roughly when I plan to tackle them. It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.”

 

11. Work in the space you have – Quarterly Planning Wheel

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Toku McCree

Toku is an executive coach, Tedx speaker, productivityist, and founder of Unexecutive and Samurai Coaching Dojo.

“It’s a simple diagram with 4 quadrants where you prioritize the projects you have for that quarter. Part of why it’s so powerful is simply the limited visual space it creates, there’s really only room to put a few projects in for the quarter.”

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This demands that you learn to focus as a human and as a business. It’s the kind of powerful limitation that helps leaders and companies be successful. And it’s one of the things my strategic planning clients struggle with at first and then thank me for later.

 

 

12. Kill procrastination and boost creative insights – Interstitial Journaling

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Tony Stubblebine (@tonystubblebine)

Evangelist for great coaches and excellent personal development advice. CEO/Founder of Coach.me. Runs the Better Humans & Better Programming podcast.

“If your goal is mindfulness, but you’re not seeing how meditating at 8am helps you be more mindful at 3pm, then you should try Interstitial Journaling. The idea is to write quick journal entries in between each work project so that you can get stray thoughts out of your head and prepare to work with focus and intensity.”

 

13. Take baby steps – Tiny Habits

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BJ Fogg, PhD (@bjfogg)

A Stanford behavioural scientist, Dr Fogg is a world leading expert on habit formation and productivity. His research spans 20 years and over that period he’s discovered some of the most effective new ways to change behavior.

“Tiny Habits. The results from Tiny Habits are the best I’ve seen in any program.”

14. PomodoroIntervalTimer

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Ellen Goodwin (@EllenEGoodwin)

Productivity trainer, TEDx speaker, and author of DONE: How To Work When No One Is Watching

“The best productivity tool that I use is my IntervalTimer App. It allows me to set up timing intervals that I use for focus sessions. The timer allows me to set up repeated intervals so once I start it I never have to touch it again.

My favourite set up is what I call the 10+2*5 set up. It’s 5 intervals of 10 minutes with a 2 minute break. In an hour I knock out 50 minutes of concentrated work with 10 minutes of break. I find it’s really effective for things like setting up blog posts or speech presentations.

Ten minutes is a long enough time to get things done, but not so long that my focus starts to flag. It’s also short enough that I stay energized the whole time.”

 

15. Be specific with your semantics

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Michael Bungay Stanier (@boxofcrayons)

Author of best-seller The Coaching Habit (600,000+ sold) and The Advice Trap. He was a Rhodes Scholar and in 2019 was named the #1 thought leader in coaching.

“I’m currently benefiting from distinctions like”never’ versus “rarely”, or “don’t” versus “occasionally”. As an example, it’s helpful for me during Dry January to think, “I’m the kind of person who doesn’t drink”. That lack of wriggle room is helping me hold the line.”

 

 

16. Reflecting on work done – GTD Weekly Review

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Jeff Sanders (@JeffSandersTV)

JEFF is a keynote speaker, productivity coach, personal development fanatic, plant-based marathon runner, and author of The 5 AM Miracle

“It’s based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. I have been reviewing my personal and professional life on a weekly basis for nearly 10 years and it’s a game-changer every time I complete one.”

 

17. Prioritised lists – Todoist and the 2+8 Prioritisation method

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Carl Pullein

Productivity and time management coach. Creator of the Collect, Organise and Do (COD) and 2+8 Prioritisation Systems.

“Todoist because if manages all the things I have to do both on a micro and macro level and the 2+8 Prioritisation method because that enables me to stay focused on what is important and exclude stuff that might appear important, but often is not.”

 

18. All about actions – Time Blocking

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Paul Minors

Paul is a consultant that companies to be more productive. He is host of the eponymous Paul Minors Podacast where he teaches people about productivity, business and self-improvement.

“For me, putting tasks from my todo list onto my calendar is the most effective way to turn all your good intentions (tasks) into an actual plan of when you’re going to work on them. It helps me to be more disciplined and follow through on the things I say I’m going to do.”

 

19. Mindmapping – MindNode

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Mike Schmitz (@BobbleheadJoe)

Podcaster (@_focusedfm & @bookwormfm), author, writer & screencaster (@thesweetsetup). Creator of http://faithbasedproductivity.com

“Mind mapping is an integral part of my creative workflow. I never sit down to write a lengthy article without first spending some time developing the idea in MindNode. I estimate that every hour spent developing the idea in a mind map saves me two hours when I sit down at the keyboard to write.”

20. Learn to say no

Natasha Chatur

Transformational coach

“Be a No Ninja. Build confidence to politely decline what you do not or should not need to do, and do less. Having boundaries is important, and important for others to know where your limits are.

Say no, and offer an alternative solution if it makes it easier for you to say no. Then you can focus on your own priorities rather than people pleasing, and you will be less overwhelmed and more productive.”

 

 

21. Going Old School – Pen and Paper

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Peter Bregman (@peterbregman)

Author of books bestselling books such as 18 Minutes and Leading with Emotional Courage. Bregman runs his own leadership coaching, strategy execution, and consultancy.

“Paper and pen. When I’m really overwhelmed, nothing beats physically writing a list and crossing things off on paper.”

 

22. It’s what you do every day – habits

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Alisa Cohn (@AlisaCohn)

Alisa is a CEO coach. Her focus is on executive presence, influence, power, charisma, agility, politics, and decision-making.

“My best and favorite productivity tools are habits, not technology.

1) Plan your day the night before – it’s the only way you have a chance of making progress on the most important things

2) Daily fitness to clear the mind. Technology and tools are great but habits win the day.”

 

 

23. Food for thought – meal plans

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Allison Schaaf (@PrepDish)

Allison is a food, nutrition and culinary expert, and the founder of meal-planning website PrepDish. She frequents online podcasts such as The Productivityist Podcast and The Productivity Show.

“My mealplans at PrepDish! This system is the most efficient way to get healthy, tasty meals on the table, with no thinking on my part!”

24. Notes – Drafts

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Joe Buhlig (@JoeBuhlig)

Productivity Coach, blogger, and podcaster.

“I have a habit of swiping up twice (close an app and go to my empty home screen) and then launching Drafts before sleeping my iPhone. This allows me to unlock my phone and start typing a query or idea right away without the chance for distractions of any kind.”

25. Know theyself – Strengthen your metacognition

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Rebecca-Monique (@RbccMnq)

Transformational coach, member of the international coaching federation, and alumni of the highly acclaimed Barefoot Business & Personal Coaching programme.

“Actively strengthening our metacognition (i.e. the way we think about our thinking) is key to supercharging our productivity. It’s a self-directed method of raising self-awareness, managing our challenges, and enhancing our growth and development.”

 

26. Daily Life Tracker

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Carl Pate (@DLifeTracker)

Carl is personal productivity expert, speaker, author, and business coach. He is author of Amazon best seller Making S#!t Happen.

“Daily Life Tracker is the only tool that you need to manage and take control of your whole life. This system will not only help you to organise your life in a way that you have never seen before, but it is specifically designed to help you to build the consistent habits that will lead to success in whatever you are doing.

Mastering the habit of using Daily Life Tracker will lead to mastery of all the other habits. There is nothing else like it for taking a wholistic approach to whole-life balance and whole life management.”

 

27. Pomodoro

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Mile Zivkovic (@MileChanty)

Mile is a content writer and work-life balance expert at chat and productivity app Chanty.

“I had trouble focusing a while ago and I realized that I was getting work done, but at the same time, I was wasting a lot of time on unrelated tasks.

I first used PomoDone to track where my time was going and discovered that I spent far too much time on emails and administrative work as a freelancer (invoices, taxes and other tasks) so I decided to organize my time better and automate as much as I can.

One neat option is the Pomodoro timer, which counts down 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a 5-minute break. Moreover, the Chrome extension for the app is extremely useful.”

 

28. Focus on one thing at a time

Jon Prince

Founder and coach at The Perception Coach.

“It seems obvious, but the fastest way to get anything done is to single task. That means avoiding the temptation to switch to something easier or more fun like updating your website when the going gets tough. The most effective way to do this is to set a deadline and then eliminate all distractions until the task is complete.”

 

29. Some Essentials

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Rory Vaden (@roryvaden)

Rory Vaden is a self-fiscipline strategist and cofounder of the international training company Southwestern Consulting. He’s author of the New York Times bestseller Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success.

“One Password, Takl, Infusionsoft, and Instacart. Are all essential ones I use every day.”

30. Bonus: For dog lovers

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Sam Carpenter

Sam Carpenter runs multiple companies and has decades of experience in engineering and management. He’s author of the hugely successful books The Systems Mindset and Work the System.

“Garmin  GPS locator system for my coonhound, Justy. No longer do I spend hours trying to find him when he goes on-scent. We hike long distances in the Kentucky and Oregon back country, where we have our houses.”

 

31. Start as you mean to go on

Timo Kiander (@ProdSuperdad)

Timo Kiander is a blogger, author and freelance writer. His blog, Productive Superdad, helps to improve remote working productivity and work-life balance.

“Doing the most important work first thing in the morning. When I prioritize my work, I can make progress with the essential tasks. So no matter if some busywork comes later during the day, I have done the important work already.”

 

 

 

32. Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

Stephen Warley (@stephenwarley)

Stephen Warley is the founder of Life Skills That Matter. He believes that work should be part of your life, not your life. With over 20 years experience, Stephen has been coaching encouraging people to live life on their own terms though self-employment and productivity.

 

“You may be awake for 16 hours a day, but not every hour is equal in terms of your available energy!  Start paying attention to your “peak performance period”. What 3 to 4-hour block of time do you feel like you have the most energy and sharpest mental focus? 


Reserve this special energy for your MOST important work. the work that will have the greatest impact in terms of moving toward your goals. Your peak performance period is the foundation of designing a productive workday. Learn more about identifying your peak performance period here. “

 

Well, there you have it. 32 of the world’s leading authorities on productivity have given us their productivity tips. As phenomenally productive people they know what wasted effort looks like, and so them taking the time to share their thoughts with us is hugely appreciated. We’re positive that this trove of tips and insights will help you in your own productivity journey.

 

As you can see, no matter the tool or method, every expert focusses on forming strong habits around their daily productivity. If you’re interested in forming good habits alongside any of these tools or techniques, then check out objektivapp – a habit and productivity app that financially hurts to fail.

Are you a productivity expert? If you’d like to be featured in this article then you can give us your productivity tips here.

What are your favourite productivity tools? Let us know by leaving a comment below right now.

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