Productivity Hacks

I’ve recently started downloading and listening to Tim Ferriss new podcasts. For those of you who don’t know, Tim is the 

One of his podcasts from earlier this year was a short piece on productivity. You’ve read here in the past about the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, well I first came to understand this from the FHWW. This most recent podcast was more in-depth and included some ideas on how Tim plans his day and I thought I’d share with of The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Body, and The Four Hour Chef. He also runs a number of websites including and is a venture capital investor. I don’t know the man, I’ve never met him, but his ideas and the way they’re presented have a way of cutting through the clutter for me. Highly recommended, check him out.

We’d all like to appear successful; we’d all like to BE successful right? The media tends to portray entrepreneurs like the heroes of business. But, only the successful ones get highlighted – so there’s, as Tim puts it, a survivorship bias at play here. It appears that there are tons of successful people out there that are making it without any troubles.

Sometimes this is inspiring – more often though, it can lead to the conclusion that, well, maybe they can do it, but I’m just a regular person, I couldn’t possibly accomplish what they have!

Really what it comes down to is a ruthless daily appraisal of what you’re spending your time on. The 80/20 rule at play. If 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts, why are you wasting time on so much else?

Here’s Tim’s 8 Step Process for Productivity and Effectiveness

Remember, hard work doesn’t solve your problems; it actually works against you in many cases by amplifying the problem.

Step One

Wake up at least an hour before you have to be at a computer screen. Email is the mind killer.

Step Two

Make a cup of tea. Grab a piece of note paper, a pen and pencil.

Step Three

Write down the 3-5 things, and no more than 3-5 things, that are making you uncomfortable that you need to get done. These are often things that have been on your to-do list for a while. You know, the stuff you put off.

Remember that the most uncomfortable things are usually the most important. These often involve the chance of rejection. Ask yourself, what is making me most uncomfortable?

Step Four

For each of the 3-5 things on your list, ask yourself: If this is the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day? Will moving this forward make all of the others easier to accomplish?

Step Five

For the yes items, and you should try to get this down to 1 or 2 at most, set aside a block of 2-3 hours of time to focus on it.

Step Six

See Step Five! Be ruthless and get your list down to ONE item if at all possible!

Step Seven

Find yourself procrastinating or distracted? Don’t freak out! Simply be aware of what you’re doing and…

Step Eight

Gently bring yourself back to your focus and complete that 1 mission critical task.

Some words on busy-ness and the fallacy of the ‘important’:

What you do is more important than how you do it. Doing something well does not make it important!


  • Being busy is a form of laziness.
  • Being busy is most often used as a guise to avoid doing the most important or uncomfortable actions!

Find yourself struggling with this whole idea? Don’t worry, most of us feel this way sometimes. Most of us look at the stories of success and feel that we just can’t measure up and accomplish the seemingly unattainable. Don’t underestimate yourself or overestimate everyone else. You can do anything!


  1. Constantine Isslamow 10/06/2014 at 10:15 AM

    Excellent post Doug. Simple thoughts but very effective.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Doug 10/06/2014 at 10:24 AM

    Thanks Con! It's often the simple ideas that can be the most effective :)

Thank you! Your comment has been submitted and is awaiting approval.

Doug Lytle

Doug Lytle

Branch Manager
CENTURY 21 United Realty Inc., Brokerage*
Contact Me