The Only Three Productivity Hacks That Made a Difference for Me

#life #work 2 min.

Here’s a random shower thought: where did all the productivity gurus go?

If you were online around the 2010s, you probably remember the names Tim Ferris (4-Hour Work Week), David Allen (GTD—Getting Things Done), Leo Babauta (Zen Habits),, or dozens of others. They had countless productivity hacks to help you do more in less time. I know because I followed all of them.

Once the self-help industry moved on, these gurus had to pivot into self-improvement, minimalism, or just plain consulting. There are only so many ways to reinvent the to-do list.

Of all the countless tips and tricks I’ve read over those years, only three have stuck with me. Listen up; I’m about to save you much time.

The first one is so simple you’ll roll your eyes at me: What gets written down gets done. It has to be on paper because only then does it feel important. Also, no UI can replace the feeling of physically crossing an item off the list.

The second one is the two-minute rule. If the task takes two minutes or less to complete, do it immediately. If the task is more complex than that, figure out what you can do in two minutes to move it forward. This keeps me from over-planning every errand and helps build momentum on those slow days.

Finally, I’m about to do a bait-and-switch on the third one because it’s not a hack but a mindset shift.

Pretend you are a different person each day. There’s yesterday-you, today-you, tomorrow-you, and so on. Taken together, all of you’s form a community, which is your entire life.

Stay with me.

Like all healthy communities, you should help each other. Say you are too lazy to unload the dishwasher; you’ll do it tomorrow morning. But if you-from-tomorrow is another person, then it’s kind of a dick move, isn’t it. Wouldn’t you prefer your future self to think of you as a nice guy instead?

Some days will be more meaningful than others, but you should still contribute something on any given day. Whether you clean the kitchen, go to the gym, or apply for that dream job - do your part.

This works so well because humans are naturally social creatures, we are hardwired to help each other, sometimes to a borderline people-pleasing level. So why not use that instinct on yourself?

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Est. 2011