I recently caught up with a long-time reader and friend for lunch.
He’s pretty organised and productive, but he’s always looking for more ways to optimise his work and life, so he asked:
Aaron, what’s new in the productivity world?
And it had me thinking — there hasn’t been much innovation in the productivity world recently.
So… what do productivity masters do when they’ve maxed out their productivity? How do we take this to the next level?
This compilation of next-level productivity techniques is the result.
This is a guide to next-level productivity techniques.
This means that your existing productive flow (as defined in Evolution) is already excellent, otherwise none of this will work.
For example, if you can’t turn your focus on and off at will, The Molecule Man technique will make you disorganised, scatterbrained and shatter your focus into a million pieces.
If you aren’t already eating healthily and accurately, The Lion technique will be incredibly unhealthy for you.
And what exactly is good, productive flow?
This is where you’ve been spending at least 50% of your time focused on your goals, consecutively, for the past year.
Yes, you’re allowed a few bad days every year.
But 99% of the time, you must be switched on, and focused.
Technique 1: Zero Point Tracking
Zero Point Tracking is the idea that any kind of recording is friction.
Ticking tasks lists, tracking workouts, writing journals… it’s all an extra step that you don’t need to do.
You can speed up your flow by not tracking.
This concept comes from the old school Internet marketing underground, where conversions were coming in so fast that many marketers simply turned off tracking because the increase in speed (and thus, conversions and revenue) justified not having tracking data to optimise with.
Here are a couple of examples from daily life to illustrate.
Let’s take time tracking.
Say you’ve tracked your time already for 6 months, or a year.
You know what your time-wasters are, and what your habitual patterns are.
You’ve set up an antifragile calendar system already.
At this point — there’s no need to track. Tracking becomes an unnecessary step that slows you down.
So instead of tracking, you simply do and flow.
Now let’s look at sleep tracking.
Wearable tech is all the rage now… but how many people actually use the data? And if no one actually does anything with the data… why do we keep on tracking?
So what we can do instead is this.
Track for a period of time. Then make changes and optimisations:
- Reduce light in your bedroom.
- Reduce noise in your bedroom (or add white noise).
- Set the right temperature.
- And so on.
And then leave it all alone and just get on with having a good night of sleep.
Stop worrying about “optimising sleep” further and expending time and energy on it. Instead, simply enjoy the benefits of already having tracked and optimised your sleep habits.
Both these examples illustrate that you must have tracked the data first, to know what is not being tracked now.
If you’ve say, never written 3 outcomes for the day and decide that you don’t need to do that… you don’t have the unconscious competence of having focused on just 3 large outcomes for the day, and you’ll just end up not getting things done.
Track first, implement changes, then change to Zero Point Tracking.
Technique 2: Ride The Chaos
Riding The Chaos is about harnessing the power of momentum, extreme focus and obsession to make you even more productive.
The idea is modelled from a good friend of mine, who goes through periods of hibernation, followed by a massive burst of activity where he succeeds at everything.
It is the idea that you can be impulsive, and if something strikes your fancy in the moment, you give in to it and do it. You throw your life out of balance to Ride The Chaos, enjoy the benefits, and then revert to equilibrium when you’re done.
In order to achieve this, you need a solid inner game setup:
- Your day-to-day life should not be a challenge. Things should flow productively already.
- Your long-term goals should be set up and progressed upon already — with enough flexibility to pivot and adjust as needed.
Here’s the system behind this.
First, you put out feelers everywhere.
This means having a habit of knowing whom to listen to, what to read, how to filter on inputs, and how to keep your long-term goals in mind.
Then you go about enjoying life.
Simultaneously, you are prepared to take action when an opportunity arises — this means having the skills, time and mental space ready to deploy.
When a select opportunity arises, you strike hard and fast.
You make a plan. You throw your existing schedule out the window. And you execute until done.
Then, you shift back to hibernation.
People looking in from the outside will think, “What happened to THAT guy?”
But that only happens because of the force and impact of execution that comes from Riding The Chaos.
Technique 3: The Molecule Man
In Marvel Comics, The Molecule Man is a super being who exists as the same being across all realities in the multiverse at the same time.
One person, many existences.
When you’re at peak productivity with work, this is how you take it to the next level. This means purposeful multitasking, simultaneous work streams, and rapid task switching.
In practical terms, it looks like this.
You start working with deep focus on the task at hand. You do it well.
You see a notification pop up on Slack, which you effectively triage.
This means that if someone asks you for something, you can pause what you’re focused on, send it to them,1If it takes 2 minutes or less. then jump right back into deep focus.
If you know it’s going to be a long request, you know how to say, “I’ll get back to you on this in 2 hours”, then set a Slack reminder or add it to your task list, then get back into deep focus.
In order to do this, you need a few things.
First, you need highly developed productivity skills.
This means deep focus, and the ability to task switch and hold tasks mentally while switching, and clean workbench skills.2i.e., no 100 browser tabs open, and the ability to open up to work on something, then clean up after yourself when you’re done.
Second, are the artefacts and systems for productive work.
- A task list.
- Project management tools.
- Journals and your outcomes for the day, so you know what your high-level focus is.
- Efficient technology channels like Slack and Asana.
- An effective setup and allocation of work hours and work days according to hero mode.
Lastly, it means technological mastery of the above systems.
You must know how to use your task managers properly. You must know how to use project management properly.
You must understand quick capture shortcuts.
You should have a multi-monitor setup, so you can have multiple workstreams visible at the same time.
This is how you do The Molecule Man.
Technique 4: The Lion
The Lion is the idea of eating one meal a day (OMAD).
I’ll leave the fitness and nutrition aspects to experts in those fields, but I expect the science behind it to be similar to that behind intermittent fasting.3Usual disclaimer: I am not a health professional so please consult one before making any dietary changes.
What I’m more interested in are the productivity reasons.
Most people will feel sluggish after eating, regardless of what is eaten.
So… not eating increases the window of creative and concentrated output you can achieve.
And less time spent eating, means more time available to be productive.4And let’s face it, most eating nowadays is accompanied by mindless screen time.
This technique is called The Lion because as I kid I remember watching nature documentaries where lions would eat a big meal, then lie down and sleep and enjoy their time afterwards.
And as human beings, why shouldn’t we get to enjoy that too?
Here’s what you need to do to set it up:
- Have your calories in place for the day — and know exactly what you’re going to eat.
- Have the ability to sit and eat all of that in one go. This is where having good food choices and calorie-dense foods helps.
- Have a set meal time.
- Have the discipline to get through the first bits of discomfort. It’s going to be tough to eat 1,000, 1,500, 2,000, 3,000 calories in one sitting if you’re not used to it.
- Have the mental fortitude and resistance to social pressure to eat breakfast, lunch etc.
- Know how to say no to social commitments or not eat at them. This is cultivated through practice.
- Have the flexibility to know when to eat with others, and how to be a Flexible Lion on given days.
Once you have these set up, you can execute.
You make your plan, you have your food ready, then you eat.
Bonus Tip: If you’re used to eating 3 meals a day, try cutting down to 2 meals a day first as an intermediate step,5Also known as intermittent fasting. before proceeding to The Lion.
Technique 5: The Spoiled Prince
The Spoiled Prince means you act like a spoiled prince from medieval tales and fables.
This is the carefully cultivated art of ignoring low-level, inconsequential issues until they go away on their own… or until someone else takes care of it
You can also think of this as Selective Responsibility or Selective Ignorance.
A Warning: DO clean up after yourself.
But when someone else makes a mess that you know will become a problem for them down the line — it’s THEIR problem to solve, so long as it doesn’t affect you too much.
This is best illustrated through examples.
“You’ll need to call me back to confirm in 3 days’ time.”
Get their name and the time you called them, and tell them you are noting it down. Add the callback time onto your to-do list and move on.
Your partner leaves dirty dishes in the sink.
They know they’ll need to do them, so you lovingly remind them and then get on with your day. When they come back later and complains about them not being done, you can lovingly remind them again. The dishes will get done.
Someone kicks up a fuss and creates unnecessary drama.
This is “storm in a teacup” nonsense. You can selectively ignore them for a few days, and let them resolve their own drama or take it to someone else. You just get on with your day.
You ask a client to do something for their own benefit, and they don’t do it.
Be professional, and remind them gently. If they still don’t do it, make note of when and how you told them. Then, when the results roll around and aren’t what they expected, you remind them that you advised them otherwise multiple times, and they didn’t act in their best interests, and that explains the results.
Your friends want to organise a dinner in a group chat, but everyone has “preferences”.
Instead of participating in the back-and-forth and so-and-so doesn’t eat this or “that place has no parking” nonsense… you simply be in the chat, let them talk it all out, and when a decision nears, nod in agreement, then show up and enjoy the meal.
This is what it means to be The Spoiled Prince.
What To Do Next
And there you have it:
5 next-level productivity techniques that productivity masters use to be even more productive.
These are all productivity superpowers, and there is no need to use all of them. Any one or two of them will already have a tremendous impact on your productivity.
If you want more cutting-edge productivity techniques like this, I share 3 digestible tips in my newsletter weekly.
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- If it takes 2 minutes or less.
- i.e., no 100 browser tabs open, and the ability to open up to work on something, then clean up after yourself when you’re done.
- Usual disclaimer: I am not a health professional so please consult one before making any dietary changes.
- And let’s face it, most eating nowadays is accompanied by mindless screen time.
- Also known as intermittent fasting.