The #1 Productivity Hack In The World


Everyone wants to be more productive and get more stuff done. Productivity advice comes in droves and it seems everyone has their little piece to add. A popular video has been circulating the past year or so with Richard Branson on how he doubles his productivity.

Richard Branson’s Take on Productivity

[click to watch video]

Richard Branson is one of my favorite entrepreneurs in the world and I love that answer, but it’s not quite there. Obviously, I love fitness, and sure you might make even more happen if you’re already started and you add in exercise. However, if you’re like most people and struggling to get started, you’ll still be stuck at zero.

The #1 Productivity Hack In The World

The #1 reason why most people aren’t productive, isn’t that they’re not exercising – it’s that they don’t know what to do.

They don’t know what to do because they haven’t decided what they’re going to do.

They’re either waiting for a cue from someone or simply mulling over the pros and cons of the decisions over and over and over. You can only do that so many times until you start finding that you’re surfing the internet aimlessly, playing video games or generally being unproductive.

That’s why decision is so important.

Decision Leads To Action

Without decisions you just have potential options. You might have 2 or 3 or 10 potential options, but because you haven’t made a decision, you work a little here and a little there, but you never really make any progress because you’ve never actually made a decision.

Personal Note: I’ve been working on this the past 6 months and really focusing on where & how I spend my time. Being able to DECIDE means you’re able to eliminate things that aren’t important, focus and execute on the ones that are.

The reason why decision works so well, is that decision leads directly into action. If you decide you’re going to do something and commit to doing it, all that’s left is the doing. You already know what needs to be done, so you set aside the motivation, and become disciplined to do it.

The outcome has already been decided. You’re just waiting for reality to catch up.

Good Or Bad – It Matters Less Than You Think

The main reason people waver on decisions is that one is good and one is bad.

But, it’s often the case that most things aren’t . Some are good and some are better. There might even be a “best” decision at the time, but it can be hard to always know ahead of time with the information you have. Sometimes it’s impossible (unless you have time traveling capabilities).

So you can either sit still, suffer from paralysis by analysis and never do anything or you can can decide, take action, learn from the outcome and repeat and get closer to what you want to accomplish.

The Most Important Decision

No matter whether your decisions are good or bad, the most important decision you can make is to keep going.

Sometimes you’re going to make bad decisions. Keep going. Make better ones in the future. Sometimes you’ll make good decisions. Keep going. Make them better. Sometimes you have no idea if what you just decided to do was good or not.

Keep moving forward anyways.

You can do your homework, learn all you want, but at some point you just have to decide and take action. If (or better yet: WHEN), something goes wrong, decide to keep going and endure.

Decide. Act. Repeat and keep going.

Want to be more productive? Work on making decisions. Then execute.

The #1 Productivity Hack In The World Video

[click to watch video]

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photo credit: Paul Worthington
photo credit: Stuck in Customs

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  1. says

    I think there’s no such thing as a bad decision – the only way out of indecision-land is to just make one (flip a coin if you must), and then proceed to make the one you chose the best one!

  2. says

    Great post, Joel!

    I definitely agree. When I surf the blogosphere, I see a lot of productivity hacks, but all the productivity tricks in the universe won’t do you any good if you don’t know what you’re working towards.

    Ultimately, the most important thing is to clearly define your goals. Once you’ve done that, determining the steps required to achieve them becomes exponentially easier.

    And if you fail? No big deal. The only true failure is not learning from your previous failures.

  3. Martin says

    I completely agree with this post, even though I’m still familiarizing myself with the concept. You just add the deciding factor to Nike’s “Just do it”, so that it turns into a decide and just do it already!

  4. says

    Very thought provoking post, Joel. Thanks.

    I am wondering whether this is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario?

    Perhaps there is some truth in both yours and Sir Richard Bransons views. My experience is that by doing exercise it helps you to get clarity of mind. Which in turn helps you to make decisions – and usually they are better decisions than one made from the lounge.

    To increase my productivity I just decide to run and the rest seems to follow naturally.

  5. says

    Hey Joel,

    This is my first time here, let me start by saying I really enjoyed this article!

    I also love Richard Branson- He lives his life his way and succeeds an insane amount in the process. I just started blogging a few days ago, and one of my launch articles explores what goes in to making a decision- it’s such a fascinating concept ( I’m a psych geek).

    I think you’re spot on with the most important decision you make is to keep going. I was on the fence on whether or not I had what it takes to launch a blog that people would like..until finally I decided to break that paralysis by analysis and just do it! You never know until you try, right? Look forward to reading more!

    – Brett

  6. says

    Joel, seriously, this is SO DAMN TRUE. But people get paralyzed by decisions — I’m as guilty of that as anyone!

    A friend of mind once said that it doesn’t matter what you plan to end up, because as long as you are going then you will end up where you were meant to be. Perhaps a tad more esoteric than your post’s commandment, but I think it’s all the same thing: if you don’t make a decision, you won’t end up anywhere except stuck. 😛

    Thanks for another great inspirational blog I will share around!

  7. says

    Yep being unclear definately zaps productivity. I’d add to that that not just deciding what step is next but also having a direction to go in, a goal to work towards. When I have that I am much more productive and focused!


  8. Donovan says

    Both action and inaction have consequences. Action is actively choosing a path. Inaction takes the decision out of your hands.

  9. shawn says

    The hardest part for me is deciding what to do. I have always been so indecisive. Lately I have been discovering that it really doesn’t matter what you choose to do, as long as you pick something and stick with it. Especially if it has already worked for other people, you know it is probably going to work for you too if you stick with it. This post is very motivating. I like the culture you are creating on this blogs

  10. Mark Eichenlaub says

    Totally agree Joel. Just found your blog and saw your in Chicago, small world, me too. Got you bookmarked now.


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