3 Tips to Optimize Your Time for Explosive Productivity

One of the things I have loved about my life so far is the opportunities I’ve had to chase my interests, learn new skills, and explore different occupations. At various times, I’ve been a carpenter, a web developer, a quality engineer, a blogger, and a coach. It’s been a weird and winding path that has shown me many exciting places.

But no matter what I am working on or where I find myself, one theme that always shows up is the importance of efficiency.

Whatever we are working on or trying to achieve, we’ll always be best set up for success if we use our resources as effectively as possible. To that end, here are some of the tools I have found to be most impactful in optimizing my time (and other critical resources) for explosive productivity.

1. Go Where the Wins Are

Imagine yourself as a general, and the goal you’re working on as your war. Do you start by figuring out tactics like maneuvering your soldiers and how they should act in combat? Or do you start with your strategy and figure out which battles you should be fighting in the first place?

The first step to optimizing your time is to put yourself where you have the most opportunity to succeed.

You could do an excellent job of winning a skirmish that doesn’t move your campaign forward. On the other hand, even an imperfect win on a critical battlefield could turn the whole tide. There’s a big difference between doing the thing right, and doing the right thing. You’ll always create more value by developing a solid high-level strategy before moving on to specific tactics

What this means for productivity is that there’s a greater payoff to choosing high-value work. Figure out your high-level plan. Start with where you can get the biggest wins for the least effort. With that, you’ll skyrocket your output before worrying about streamlining the work itself.

2. Respect the Tools

I used to work for a carpenter who had this fascinating “original trilogy Yoda” vibe. Let’s call him John.

John flowed seamlessly between oddball quirkiness and sage wisdom that you want to sit and soak in. One of his most important lessons came from a simple habit: cleaning every tool every day before we closed up shop. Of course, cleaning up your workspace is not exactly a novel idea. But John’s lesson was more profound than that: he taught me to respect my tools.

Every trade has its tools. Whether yours include a tablesaw, a laptop, or a paintbrush, you’ll find yourself working more smoothly and with fewer issues when you take good care of them. And, of course, this applies to you, too. You are your own most valuable asset, and you’ll always run smoother if you take good care of yourself and give yourself healthy breaks.

There is so much to gain by learning to respect the tools that help you do your job. Cleaning, maintaining, and otherwise looking after your things allow you to appreciate them more and use them more effectively. Plus, a tidy workspace encourages productivity and drives efficiency. And, of course, well-maintained objects perform their jobs better and for longer than if they are disrespected and abused.

To optimize your time most effectively, respect the tools you rely on to get the job done.  

3. Bring in Help

I’m a big advocate of building greater self-sufficiency into your time. Learning to take more responsibility for your wants and needs has many benefits. However, you don’t have to do everything on your own, nor should we be trying.

Everyone has a different set of skills, strengths, and abilities. No one can be an expert in everything, so we’re often better off sharing in the skills of others. Trying new skills and lowering your reliance on experts for basic things is always great. But, of course, some jobs will always need someone who knows what they’re doing.

Ultra-successful people know that nothing worth winning can be won alone. So separate the things that only need to be “good enough” from the things that are critical to your success, and don’t be afraid to call in outside support to free yourself back up for what you’re best at.

And by the way, outside support doesn’t always have to be other people. So this is a huge opportunity to start automating your workflow to further optimize your time.

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Hey, I’m Sam. I created Smarter and Harder to explore big ideas, both old and new, about building a better life. My mission is to evolve the conversation about personal growth and have fun doing it.

4 thoughts on “3 Tips to Optimize Your Time for Explosive Productivity”

  1. I am a firm believer in the importance of recognizing when something isn’t your strength and you would be better off outsourcing it. Why stress yourself over trying to accomplish something that could be done quickly and out of your way by someone who specializes in it? There are so many great freelancers out there that are more than willing to help you with these tasks!

    • Absolutely, especially as we develop more and more ways of sharing our skills and expertise with one another. We’re increasingly decentralized from old models of paying for services, and it’s easier than ever to connect with someone else quickly, cheaply, and directly to outsource tasks where it makes sense.


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