Learn how to enhance your productivity and motivation with these 15 TED Talks

Maintaining motivation and productivity levels is an evergreen topic I like to write about from time to time, especially since this is something that many of us struggle with on a fairly regular basis.

With the constant hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is SO easy to get distracted or off-track. That’s why I thought that pointing you to some resources like the 15 TED talks you’ll learn about below can be a really helpful to develop lasting habits that help you become more effective.

Below you’ll learn about 15 excellent TED Talks that, in one way or another provide useful tips, information, and mindset shifts so you can enhance your productivity and motivation levels and start living your goal life.

That said, let’s take a look at the first talk…

Why you should define your fears instead of your goals

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Tim Ferris

Run-time: 13:22

About the talk:

In this TED Talk, Tim Ferris shares his recipes for avoiding self-destructive and self-paralysis using stoicism, a means of mental toughness training aimed at helping people to thrive in high-stress environments and make better decisions.

The basic principle behind stoicism, according to Tim, is training yourself to separate that which you can control from that which you cannot control and then doing exercises that focus on what you can control. This decreases emotional reactivity, which can cause a lot of harm depending on the circumstances.

The specific exercise that changed Tim’s life was fear-setting, or defining your fears, which occurs as follows:

  • Practice visualizing, or writing down, the worst-case scenarios that you fear most, in as much detail as possible.
  • Next, figure out how you could prevent or decrease the likelihood of those scenarios happening.
  • Then, think about how you could repair the damage if the worst-case scenarios actually do happen.
  • The next phase is to think about what the benefits might be of attempting what you’re considering but are too afraid to do.
  • The last thing you should figure out is the cost of not taking action on whatever decision or action you are considering. If you avoid a certain action or decision, how might your life look in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years?

After completing this exercise, you might just realize that inaction is no longer an option because the positive impact greatly outweighs the negative impact.

The happy secret to better work

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Shawn Achor

Run-time: 12:14

About the talk:

In this talk, Shawn talks about how if we study what is just average, we will remain average. But if we study that which is not average, maybe we can move what is “average” up, to something better, to something more positive.

Because it’s not necessarily our realities that shape us, but rather, it’s the lens that our brains use to view the world that shapes our realities. So if we can change the lens, we can change our happiness along with our business outcomes.

Many people assume that our external worlds predict our happiness levels. This isn’t necessarily true, though. The reality is that, if we know everything about someone’s external world, we can only predict about 10% of their long-term happiness.

Ninety percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by your external world (for example, your job, your relationship status, etc.) but by the way your brain processes that world. So if you change your brain’s formula for happiness and success, you can change the way that your brain affects your reality.

For example, 75% of job success is predicted not by your IQ but by your optimism level, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat. However, most people operate according to the following formula for success: If I work harder, I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier.

This is backward, though, because every time you achieve a success, your brain changes the line of where your marker for success lies. So you’re always in a state of striving for bigger and better. But the result of that is the goal of happiness gets pushed over the “cognitive horizon,” meaning happiness is never actually achieved.

So in order for you to be happier, you don’t need to first become more successful. Instead, you need to learn how to feel more positive in the present. Because when you feel more positive in the present, you experience a “happiness advantage,” involving a more positive-minded brain, which actually performs better than a brain that’s more negative or stressed.

A more positive-minded brain becomes better at…

  • Securing jobs
  • Keeping jobs
  • Being productive
  • Being resilient
  • Not burning out
  • Getting more sales.

So the formula for success should be reversed. When you make yourself happier in the present, you become more successful, as all of the learning centers in your brain get turned on and you become an overall better version of yourself.

Here’s how you can train your brain to think more positively (do everything on this list for 21 days in a row):

  • Write down three new things you’re grateful for each day
  • Journal about one positive experience that happened to you each day
  • Exercise each day
  • Meditate each day
  • Perform at least one random act of kindness each day, especially by sending one positive email praising or thanking someone in your social network.

How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: David Grady

Run-time: 6:41

About the talk:

David says each and every day, our co-workers and other people in our lives steal from us… they steal our time. And we are all suffering from MAS (Mindless Accept Syndrome). For example, we might accept an invitation to a meeting that we know nothing about and that won’t benefit us at all. But we accept nonetheless because we were invited.

We need to stop doing this, though. We are not powerless, even if we think we are. So the takeaway here is to be more intentional about our time because we only have so much of it. So we need to start asking questions to make sure thing are good uses of our time before we mindlessly agree.

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Tim Urban

Run-time: 14:04

About the talk:  

When it comes to people who procrastinate, there are three characters at work in their brains…

  1. The rational decision-maker
  2. The instant gratification monkey
  3. And the panic monster (who comes out, scaring the monkey, very close to looming deadlines).

And as long as there are deadlines, the panic monster generally can kick a person who procrastinates into gear. However, there are two kinds of procrastination. When there are deadlines and when there are no deadlines. And when there are no deadlines, it’s another story. The procrastinator’s system doesn’t work as well because the panic monster doesn’t really come out anymore.

When there aren’t any deadlines, it’s totally up to you to be a self-starter, and the effects of procrastination are not contained and extend outward forever.

The effects of procrastination in this sense are that people become spectators at times in their own lives. They haven’t even been able to start chasing their dreams, never mind achieve them.

In reality, there really might not be such a thing as non-procrastinators, because we all do this to a certain extent in one way or another.

Everyone is procrastinating about something in life. So we all need to be aware of the instant gratification monkey in our lives.

How to gain control of your free time

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Laura Vanderkam 

Run-time: 11:55

About the talk:

Laura opens with this quote, “We don’t build the lives we want by saving time.  We build the lives we want and then time saves itself.”

The things is, when you have to find time to do something (especially something unexpected), you can. Time is actually elastic. You can’t make more time. You can stretch time to accommodate what your priorities are.

You have to remember that every minute you spend is your choice. When people say they don’t have time, what they are pretty much always saying is it’s not a priority.

The way we spend our time is our choice (to an extent).

Try these exercises…

Pretend it’s the end of next year and you’re giving yourself a performance review and it’s been a really good year. What 3-5 things did you do that made the year so amazing professionally?

Then, write a holiday letter describing what 3-5 things you did that made the year so amazing personally?

Now, you have a list of 6-10 goals you have for the following year. Then, you need to break those goals down into actionable steps.

Then, you put everything that’s a priority to you into your schedule first. You do this by thinking about your week before you’re in it. A really time to do this is Friday afternoon.

Make yourself a three-category priority list…

  1. Career
  2. Relationships
  3. Self

There should be something in all three of these categories. And you should plan something for all three categories during each week. And if you do the math, you actually probably have a lot of spare time that you’re just not using—for example, breaks at work when you can meditate, bus commutes when you can read a good book.

You have to look at the whole of your time and see where you can fit in the good stuff that matters to you. Even if you’re super busy, you can make time for what matters as long as that’s what you’re focusing on.

How to make work-life balance work

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Nigel Marsh 

Run-time: 9:58

About the talk:

In this talk, Nigel shares four observations about work-life balance:

One – You need an honest debate about this. Certain job and career choices are, at their core, incompatible with meaningfully engaging with your family and friends on a day-to-day basis. You need to be honest about the situation you’re in and find solutions that are realistic.

Two – You need to get to the truth. Governments and corporations aren’t going to take responsibility for your work-life balance. You need to keep the quality of your own life in your own hands. And you need to be responsible for setting and enforcing boundaries.

Three – You need to be careful about the timeframe that we use to judge our work-life balance. We need to elongate the timeframe so that you aren’t aspiring to have the perfect day each and every day, but you can’t elongate it so far that you’re saying things like, “I’ll get more balance once I retire,” because, at that point, it’s too late.

Four – You need to approach balance in a balanced way.  There are multiple parts to your life: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. And in order to be truly balanced, you have to tend to all of those areas. You need to remember that the small things matter. Being balanced doesn’t take a radical transformation.

The surprising habits of original thinkers

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Adam Grant

Run-time: 15:25

About the talk:

Original thinkers are non-conformists. They have new ideas and they take action to bring those ideas to life. And what Adam discovered is there’s a sweet spot in between procrastination and precrastination where original thinking happens.

Moderate procrastinators tend to be more creative than both people who procrastinate heavily and people who consistently get things done ahead of schedule.

Because with the right amount of procrastination, you have time to consider alternate ideas and take creative risks. And sometimes, when you delay a task, you leave yourself open to new ideas flowing in and you’re freer to improvise. Procrastination can actually be a virtue for creativity.

Also, the concept of the first people to move on an idea having they advantage is actually a myth. It’s the people who improve on existing ideas who are actually less likely to fail. To be original, you don’t have to be first. You just have to be different and better.

Originals aren’t that different from the rest of us. They…

  • Feel fear
  • Feel doubt
  • Procrastinate
  • Have bad ideas

They just manage these things differently.

Original thinkers feel fear, but the key difference is they are more afraid of failing to try. Original thinkers feel doubt, but here are two different kinds of doubt:

  1. Self doubt – this is paralyzing and makes you freeze.
  2. Idea doubt – this is more energizing and motivates you to test and refine.

And the key to being original is changing your self-doubt to idea doubt. So instead of thinking things like “I am crap,” you instead think, “The first few tries are crap; I’m just not there yet.

You won’t get judged on your bad ideas. You need to speak up. Originals have lots of bad ideas. But they still try. The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most because that means they are trying the most. The more things you try, the more likely you are to come up with a winner. And sometimes, being quick to start but slow to finish can make you more creative in the end. You can also end up feeling more motivated when you doubt yourself sometimes.

How to succeed? Get more sleep

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Arianna Huffington 

Run-time: 4:04

About the talk:

Basically, the simple answer to achieving a more productive and a more joyful life is sleep. She says, “The essence of leadership is being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic.” In other words, you need to be able to see the bigger picture of your goals and personal lives. And if you aren’t getting enough sleep, this isn’t going to be possible.

Smart failure for a fast-changing world

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Eddie Obeng

Run-time: 12:30

About the talk:

We solve many of the mistakes we made last year or whenever in the past without necessarily thinking about the future and what new challenges or problems may occur.

There are two ways you can fail in the today’s culture:

  1. You do something differently when you should have been following the proper protocol.
  2. You do something that’s never been done before and you get it completely wrong.

But failure shouldn’t necessarily automatically warrant a punishment. Sometimes, failure is “smart failure.” And it serves as a way of trying to adapt to an ever-evolving and ever-changing world.

So before just kind of blindly following protocol or established procedures, you need to ask yourself whether or not it really and truly makes sense for what you’re trying to achieve in your current and future circumstances.

The puzzle of motivation

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Dan Pink 

Run-time: 18:33

About the talk:

This TED Talk reveals that providing external incentives, like monetary rewards, to complete tasks or work harder actually doesn’t really work in the modern age of business.

You would think that if want people to perform better, you would reward them. But that’s actually often not the case.
Incentivizing tasks can actually dull thinking and block creativity.

“There’s a mismatch between what business does and what science knows,” Dan says.

Rewards often narrow our focus and concentrate our minds. And while rewards can work well for tasks that have a simple set of rules and a fairly obvious solution, when it comes to tasks that require more creativity and outside-of-the-box thinking, rewards can actually make people focus too much so that it actually hinders their progress.

A much better approach for people in today’s business world is nurturing intrinsic motivation, which revolves around three elements:

  1. Autonomy – The urge to be independent
  2. Mastery – The urge to get better and better at something that matters to you
  3. Purpose – The urge to do what you’re doing in service of something bigger and more powerful than you

These three elements consistently work as much better motivators for people by increasing both productivity and creativity.

Why you will fail to have a great career

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Larry Smith   

Run-time: 13:54

About the talk:

You need passion in your life, not just interests. You have to find the highest expression of your talent.

However, even if you find your passion, you are still likely to fail. And this is the reason why…

People often use human relations — their family and friends — as excuses, for example, saying something like they don’t have time to pursue their ideal job or career because they want to spend time with their friends or family.

And while spending time with friends and family is super important, you don’t want to use that as an excuse or as a way to mask the underlying issue, being that you are just too afraid to go for it.

You can have the whole package — being a great spouse, a great parent, a great friend and have a great career. You just have to not be afraid anymore and stop saying the phrase “If only I had…”

How to make stress your friend

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Kelly McGonigal 

Run-time: 14:25

About the talk:

In this talk, the following question is posed: Can changing how you feel about stress change actually make you healthier in terms of changing how your body copes with stress?

According to Kelley, changing the way you view stress absolutely can make you healthier and thus better able to cope with your work-related and personal challenges.

Typical symptoms of stress often include elevated heart rate, sweating, anxiety, and feelings of pressure. But what if we reframed those symptoms and viewed them instead as ways that our bodies are energizing us and preparing us to face challenges.

When you start to rethink your stress responses as helpful to you, you can actually decrease your anxiety levels and make you feel more confident about handling tough situations. And when you start to think of stress in new ways, your body also believes you and starts responding to stress in a healthier way.

Moreover, stress makes you social, and being social and showing care and support can make you live longer by making you more resilient.

During stressful situations, oxytocin, which is also known as the cuddle hormone, gets released as a way of motivating you to seek support. “Your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience. And that mechanism is human connection,” Kelly says. But one of the best parts is that the release of oxytocin also helps your heart heal faster from stress-induced damage.

So, in sum, learning to think about stress in a new, positive way and showing care and support for the people in your life can actually help you live a longer, healthier life.

How great leaders inspire action

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Simon Sinek 

Run-time: 16:43

About the talk:

In this Ted talk, Simon discusses the concept of the golden circle, which contains the following rings: why, how, and what, and he explains why some businesses and leaders are so inspirational while others are not.

Why – This is the reason your business exists and why people should care about it.
How – This is your business’ unique selling proposition.
What – This is what your business does or what you have to offer.

Your business’ “why” is what is most important and what is going to inspire people to actually want to do business with you.

Simon says, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it…The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe…And what you do serves as the proof of what you believe.”

As a business, you have to start with your “why” and lead with that. That’s the only way you’ll ever truly be inspirational and attract people who believe the same thing you believe, thus inciting a chain reaction of people who become interested in doing business with you.

Forget multitasking, try monotasking

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Paolo Cardini

Run-time: 2:46

About the talk:

So many people multi-task. But the reality is, multi-tasking makes you less productive and it makes you miss out on just enjoying the moment you’re having. Switching back and forth from task to task takes up mental bandwidth.

So while you might feel like you’re being more productive by juggling multiple things, it’s actually taking you more time to complete each task as opposed to doing one thing at a time. So Paulo suggests mono-tasking over multi-tasking. You’ll save time and you’ll be able to enjoy the moment more.

Success is a continuous journey

Watch the TED Talk here

Presenter: Richard St. John 

Run-time: 3:48

About the talk:

Success isn’t a one-way street. For a lot of people, once they reach their goal, they think they can sit back and relax. But that’s not the case. You have to keep growing and learning and pushing yourself. Otherwise, you’ll fall back down the hill. Or, you might be outwardly successful, but on the inside, you may not feel as happy as you think you should.

You have to continuously do the things that brought you success and made you feel happy in the first place. Things like…

  • Having passion
  • Working hard
  • Focusing
  • Pushing
  • Generating new ideas
  • Improving
  • Serving
  • And persisting.

Don’t think of success as a linear progression. Think of it as being a circular and ongoing pursuit.

What do you think of these TED Talks? Are there any other talks on the subject that you particularly like that I in’t mention? If so, please leave a comment below and let me know.

Supercharge your productivity and motivation in your business and personal life with these 15 TED Talks

Here are 20 super-powerful productivity hacks

When you have a lot going on, staying productive can be a real challenge. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, burnt out, or like you want to just give up.

I definitely have this happen. There are days when I feel like there are 1000+things on my to-do list and all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a cup of tea.

On days when I’m feeling unmotivated – or even just as a general practice – having some “productivity hacks” on hand is VERY helpful. It helps get more things done in less time and creates more time for the things that bring you non-work happiness.

Because of that, I thought I’d share 20 things that you can do as well to improve your productivity, focus, and momentum towards your goals. As always, I’ve included practical tools and resources wherever possible.

If you start doing even a handful of things from the list below, you should be able to see a near-immediate improvement in what you can accomplish every day.

Let’s dive in…

How to be productive each and every (work)day, in no particular order:

Break up bigger projects into mini-tasks

If you’re faced with a big and challenging project, you can start to feel overwhelmed and avoid making progress as a result.

To help with this, it makes sense to break your big tasks into smaller bite-sized pieces and then proceed to tackle one small piece at a time.

For example, if you know you want to make a new blog post, you might actually have 4 action steps that you do either in one day or throughout a couple days. You could include “outline the post’s main points”, “come up with a title”, “write a rough draft”, and “proofread”.

None of those individual items are overwhelming and they end up taking you to exactly where you want to go.

I talk about breaking down goals in a lot more depth in my book Take Control of Your Life so check it out if you’re interested. It’s free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Batch your work

By “batching”, I mean, work on similar tasks all at once.

For example, if you have a couple things you need to take care of on Facebook, such as responding to messages and posting a few promotions, then try to pair those tasks together and do them one right after another.

If you have a few tasks that involve writing, do them back-to-back since they use a similar skill set.

This will help you stay in a flow state versus jumping from unrelated task to unrelated task which takes up a lot more mental bandwidth.

Set a schedule for your tasks

It’s amazing how much more productive you can be when there’s a schedule or a deadline (even if it’s self-imposed) that you have to meet. This is especially true of the more time-consuming tasks or those involving multiple parts and steps.

For the blog post example again, another way you might schedule that could be as follows:

9:00am – 9:45am – Research and take notes.

9:45am – 11:00am – Write first draft.

11:00am – 11:20am – Take a break.

11:20am – 11:45am – Proofread and edit.

11:45am – 12:00pm – Read through once more and publish.

I’ve found it VERY helpful to use a simple kitchen timer when working. It feels like I’m racing against the clock to get things done according to my timelines and makes it far less likely for me to get distracted.

Look for shortcuts

There are often ways that you can shortcut your work to make things more efficient.

For example, if you’re emailed the same customer service questions over and over, create a document with scripts that you can copy and paste so you reduce the amount of time you have to spend answering emails. Here’s a link to a blog post I made last year with a series of customer service templates and Etsy snippets.

As another example, there are many shortcuts you can use for Google research. Here’s a post I’d made about Google search operators.

There are other things you can do with automation (blog post coming up on that soon!), with outsourcing, templates, or so on.

If there’s anything you’d like me to blog about around shortcuts, leave a comment and let me know. I’d love your thoughts.

Find an accountability partner

Having a good partner can be VERY helpful.

I actually used to run an accountability program in which my assistant and I would communicate with participants about what their goals were and then we could check in with them every day to make sure they were moving forward and staying on task. I’d since closed the program but one of the participants, 5 or so years later, still emails my assistant every day because she finds it so helpful.

When you have someone holding you accountable for your work, slacking off feels a lot more uncomfortable because you don’t want to let that person down.

A friend and I do this thing called “Power Hours” (not to be confused with this, although that works, ha!). We’ll tell each other what we plan to accomplish in the next hour and then check in at the end to see what we did.

We also have something where we’ll tell each other our big 3 goals for each day. If we don’t reach those goals, we have to pay the other person $10. We both trash talk each other a lot which is very helpful, haha, because it makes us not want to pay the other person.

To find an accountability partner, you can join relevant Facebook groups and try to form connections with other group members. You can also try joining a group on MeetUp.com if you’re looking for something more face-to-face.

Erase items from your to-do list

Look at each item on your to-do list and think, “Do I REALLY need to do this? Is it driving me closer to my main goal?”

Of course there are some items you will need to do. You’ll likely also find a bunch of busy-work that is nonessential. Maybe it got there because it was a quick win of crossing something off your list, or maybe it’s something you thought would be cool to try. Remember your end goals though, and stick to the tasks that make the most sense for your overall goals.

Remove your phone from your workspace

Most people check their phones a lot throughout the day.  And when you keep yours within arm’s reach, the temptation to pick it up is typically too great – especially if you hear a message come in.

Even if you only check your phone and respond to texts and calls once in a while, it can still hinder your productivity. The conversations you have don’t immediately leave your brain once you put your phone down.  The content of those interactions can stay with you throughout the day and impact your progress.

To help with this, it’s best to keep your devices out of sight and mind until you have a scheduled break-time.

Do a 5-10 minute workout before starting your workday

Exercise gets your blood flowing and has been proven to increase productivity and make you feel better thanks to endorphins that get released. If you search online, there are tons of quick exercise videos you can follow along to from the comfort of your home.

Even if you just have a few minutes to spare, five minutes of exercise is still worthwhile. My trainer tells me that 5 minutes is pretty much the time equivalent of a Facebook news feed scroll. So skip that and and opt to get your blood flowing instead – it’s a much better use of your time. :)

Disable messages from your computer

Some people have it so that whenever they get a message on their phones they get an alert on their computers too. If you have this feature enabled, turn it off. The messages only distract you.

Focus on your “Big 3” tasks

Being productive isn’t only about getting a lot of things done. It’s about getting the most important things done.

While you may have a ton of things to accomplish, have 1-3 things listed out each day that, if finished by the end of the day, you’ll know you can go to bed feeling proud and productive.

Not only does this keep you focused on what will take you closest to your goals, but completing the items also gives you a way to “win” each day.

Take multiple small breaks instead of one big break

While you might think working multiple hours straight would yield higher productivity rates than taking a 10-minute break every hour, the opposite is actually true.

Studies show that more frequent breaks actually increase productivity and helps you avoid the super-burn-out feeling you can get after spending too much time focusing on something intense.

Change your location

Routines can be helpful, but if you never change your patterns, you can start to feel stuck.

If you work from a home office for example, maybe move to the kitchen or go to a local coffee shop in the afternoons.

Personally, I usually spend 90 minutes on my treadmill desk, then another 90 downstairs to the kitchen table. I have both places pre-stocked with a huge jug of water. It helps keep me motivated.

If you have a traditional job and are able to switch locations, take advantage of that.

Schedule an end to your day – and stick to it

Set a time for when you’re going to stop working and be truly done for the day. You need downtime so you can unwind and feel good about what you’ve accomplished.

Once you trust your “stop” time, you’ll be more productive because you’ll have that deadline to work against.

And by giving yourself times to NOT work, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and have less of the hamster-wheel-of-work-work-work feeling that’s so easy to acquire.

Get comfortable saying no

Things come up – extra projects at work, friends who want to get together, little favors that people may ask of you, etc…

But you can’t say yes to everything.

Obviously you need to balance and not say no ALL the time, but if you’re like most people, you could stand to say no more often.

Learn how to set boundaries and don’t be shy about saying no to non-urgent activities. You can kindly explain to people that your goals are important to you and you need to spend time working on them.

Discover your “peak performance” hours

Not everyone works best during the hours between 9 and 5. Some people work better super early in the morning, while other people are night owls and experience heightened levels of creativity and productivity bursts late at night.

Peak performance hours vary from person to person, so figure out when you work best and then structure your work day around those times.

And if you’d like to try to become a morning person, you might like this Huffington Post article I wrote back in 2015 – How to become a morning person.

Use site blockers

If you’re like most people, you spend too much time scrolling social media or watching YouTube videos than you should during the workday. It can be very hard not to just pop over to Instagram to see what your friends have been posting, but then POOF — somehow a whole hour goes by.

Using site blockers can help a lot with this problem. These will let you “block” sites from yourself so you can focus your time on being productive.

Here are a few that you can try:

Hide your email inbox

Checking your inbox and responding to non-urgent emails is one of the biggest time-sucks and can seriously take a toll on your productivity.

There’s a Chrome extension that can help with this. It’s called Inbox When Ready. The way it works is it hides your inbox along with your unread emails, but you can still search, write, and send emails if you want. This way, you stay more focused and don’t feel as compelled to check or respond to every single unread email right away.

Save menial work for the end of the day

Sometimes we have repetitive yet essential tasks that need to get done, like filling out a spreadsheet or uploading items to UseGearBubble.

Save those types of items for the end of the day.

The beginning of your workday is when you have the most brainpower to get things done. Use that time to do your creative or big-thinking tasks.

As your creativity and discipline wane, then do the menial tasks that you don’t need much intelligence for.

Prep ahead by writing out your top 3 goals for the next day

At the end of each workday spend 10-15 minutes jotting down a list of the 2-3 most important things you need/want to do the following day.

This helps your subconscious can start “working” on those items while you sleep, plus it helps you hit the ground running the next day.

Give yourself a “score” at the end of each day

At the end of each day, think about how your day went. Ask yourself what 1-3 things could have made your day better.

You may even want to give yourself a “score” for the day.

Having this as a routine will help you identify the ways you can flow more consistently and have more efficient days. And since the answers will be custom tailored to you personally, they’ll be very practical and easier to implement.

I hope you find this list of productivity hacks useful! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

If you work from home, here are 20 ways to supercharge your productivity levels.


31 High-Achievers Share Their Top Tips for Staying Motivated and Productive

This time of year, there’s a lot of craziness going on, in both our personal and professional lives. (I’ve definitely started to feel a little manic over the last couple of weeks!)

And so, if you start to feel your motivation or productivity levels start to wane during all the craziness, I’ve got 31 pieces of advice right here that can help zap you back into high gear.

Awhile back, my assistant got in touch with a variety of high-achieving people, mostly via Udemy and Etsy, and asked them the following question:

In 50-60 words or less, what is the #1 tip you can share for how to keep going and stay productive when you’re not feeling at all motivated?

Most people who responded shared a lot more than 50-60 words!

Below, you’ll find a list of the people who contributed. Then, you’ll get to see the pearls of wisdom these high-achievers had to share along with a link to where you can learn more about each person and what they have to offer.

Hopefully at least one of these tips helps:

  1. Thor Pederson
  2. Ken Wells
  3. Brian Jackson
  4. Doru Catana
  5. Ali Mirza
  6. Sarah O’Leary
  7. Amgad El-Sakka
  8. Jonathan Levi
  9. Martin Georgiev
  10. Iulian Bubolea
  11. Tyler Speegle
  12. Elmira Strange
  13. Carl Pullein
  14. Dr. Roy Naraine
  15. Paulina Antonova
  16. Adam Karsh
  17. Emily Stoneking
  18. Benjamin Hero
  19. Andrew Alexander
  20. Alina Kislenko
  21. Nadine Bekkouche
  22. Dawid Tuminski
  23. Donald Wong
  24. Josh Paulsen
  25. Mike Hohenwarter, MSc
  26. Karen Oliver
  27. Tanmoy Das
  28. Oskars Dombrava
  29. Mr. Mohamed Dafallah
  30. Samantha Lynn
  31. Margaret

You can read each person’s complete advice below or jump down to the bottom to view a more condensed version of the advice shared in a downloadable infographic.

Break bigger goals or tasks down into more bite-sized, manageable steps.

Thor Pederson

It is important to envision the end goal, see and feel having achieved the goal. Break the goal into manageable pieces, keep breaking it down until each step is achievable in a reasonable amount of time. Use rewards, milestones and envision each larger sub-goal.

Ken Wells

When you’re not feeling motivated: go micro…

Once you’re clear on the big picture (your “why”), then you need to break your goals into smaller, manageable chunks.

When you run into motivation issues…focus on even smaller pieces.

Find one tiny piece of the process you can work on to move towards your goal. It could be just focusing on writing a blog post title, instead of the whole blog post.

Brian Jackson

When a problem seems so overwhelming that I don’t know how to begin to solve it, I Swiss cheese the problem.  I break the problem into small, easily performed tasks and begin taking small steps towards my goal.  In other words, I punch small holes in my problem as if I’m making Swiss cheese until the problem is all gone.

Stop over-thinking and start taking action!

Doru Catana

DO IT. What I found, looking at others, at myself, everywhere I look, was that the problem is not motivation, [it’s] not skill, it’s actually taking action and doing. We do excessive research, over-think things, over-complicate things, analyze a million outcomes, when in reality, if we just did it already, we would have been far better off. The problem is we think too much and do too little. So what if you’re wrong? Adapt, change, switch what you’re doing. But at the center of getting things done is actually doing, not thinking about it.

Ali Mirza

Take “MIA” (Massive Imperfect Action). Just get moving and take action. Action brings clarity, and automatically, we start moving towards our goals. Many people get into the “thinking mode” and that’s dangerous. The key is to stop thinking too much and take action.

Sarah O’Leary

As we really started our Etsy shop in the early days of digital products for handmade artists, we really had no place to look for advice. It was really a trial-and-error process for us that lead us to build the business model we have today. One thing we know for sure is that execution trumps knowledge any day of the week.

We really focused on working to building inventory, developing marketing strategies, and sharing our business through social media by never, ever, putting [off until] tomorrow what we could do today. Setting goals and action plans and actually doing them is really the best advice we could have gotten.

We did expand our knowledge and followed multiple [pieces of] advice from mentors and masterclasses over the years and still [do] to this day, but what is most important is that you apply those principles right now, as soon as you can into your business. By doing that we were able to exceed market expectations and create our dream business.

Find a reason or purpose that inspires and propels you forward and hold onto it. 

Amgad El-Sakka

It’s all about finding a reason, a purpose, a goal, a motive. You can call it what you want, but it can’t be money because money is a result, not a goal by itself.

My personal goal, which may sound cheesy, was marriage and love. I needed money, so I needed to work as much as I could in order to marry this girl because I had a lot of responsibilities. If I’d worked for money only, I wouldn’t have married her.

The point is; this reason, this purpose made me wake up in the morning. It was the first thing that I thought about when I woke up, the last thing I thought about before I slept; because I knew that in order to reach this purpose or this girl, I had to work hard. When I felt disappointed, de-motivated, or even bored while working and that reason simply wasn’t just enough, I had another reason, which was to keep going for my own pride and my family’s pride.

So to cut it short, it’s all about finding a good enough reason for YOU. And only YOU can determine a good enough reason for YOU. Whenever you need to do something and get it done effectively, you have to find the reason. If you don’t have a [reason], you may get things done, but you’re going to hate it and may quit way faster than if you had a really good reason that moves you and helps you to get these things done.

Finally, the trickiest part is when you actually achieve something, I mean, when you actually get to that reason. In this case, you have to celebrate, rest, and find a new reason.

Jonathan Levi

Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Nothing keeps you as motivated as the long-term vision as to why your actions matter and what you’re working towards.

Martin Georgiev

If you are not feeling motivated today, then check who are you doing it for? If you [are] doing it for yourself, [that] is not motivating enough. Think of your parents or grandparents (and how much it cost them so you [could] be here today), think of your country or your (future) children.

Iulian Bubolea

To stay productive and motivated when you don’t feel it, remember why you started! It’s natural and normal to feel that laziness. Any natural habit can be changed if we focus on good emotions. One of these good emotions is old feelings of being enthusiastic about your final goal. Remember why you started!

(Link includes a coupon code.)

Tyler Speegle

I’m a writer, so when I don’t feel motivated to write, I go back to the reason why I started in the first place. I started writing because I want to connect with people. Inspire them. Encourage them. That reason why is a constant, so I know I can always depend on it for motivation when I need it most.

Elmira Strange

1. Remember the reasons for starting your project (business). What is it you wanted?  To have independence, to stay at home, to travel the world whilst working ‘online’? Take 2-3 minutes and realize how far you’ve come. This is not the time to procrastinate!

2. Find a reward that will work for you! You can reward yourself with a favorite movie, delicious snack, or some little shopping, but only after you complete today’s project!

Practice visualization. Imagine the life you want (or the one you want to avoid).

Carl Pullein

Staying productive and motivated starts with your vision of the life and lifestyle you want. Without that, you lose motivation and get caught up in unimportant busy work stuff that takes you nowhere, fast. So, my advice, decide what you want, and have one or two tasks each day that take you closer towards achieving the vision you want for you.

Dr. Roy Naraine

The strategy that works best for me is visualization. I analyze the purpose of my task, the consequences of not following through, and the benefits of completing it. I turn these thoughts over in my mind and go through the action of actually carrying out the tasks the night before. The next day, everything works like a charm.

Paulina Antonova

There is a great exercise to get fired up. Remember the moment in your life when you felt greatly empowered. It can be anything, sports competitions, work success etc. Define the exact moment/second when you felt extremely powerful. Relive that moment, feel it to the fullest. What you were wearing, what position you were taking, what were you thinking about. Remember that feeling. It will bring you back to the state of “I can do everything” and will motivate you.

Adam Karsh

My personal technique to maintain productivity when motivation levels are low is simply reminding myself of how the task at hand fits in the bigger picture, and to visualize the positive outcome. I strongly believe in the concept of delayed gratification (i.e. accept present pain and discomfort for future success).

Emily Stoneking

Honestly, I keep motivated by imagining what my life would be like if I had to grind out a 9-to-5 job somewhere, working for someone else, and not having control over my own hours. I would be miserable. So however much I might want to nap, keeping up with my to-do list takes priority! (But later…a nap!)

Benjamin Hero

The best tip I can give to stay motivated and productive is to embrace all sides of motivation: both the negative and the positive. We have often been told that we need to have a pure source of motivation in order for us to maintain a level head, but tapping into the negative energy, when it is available, will turn you into a productive animal!

Hold yourself accountable.

Andrew Alexander

Most people think they have to “feel” motivated in order to take action. For those who are struggling to take action, they are usually more motivated by avoiding immediate pain. The solution is to find one task you have to do (go to the gym, write one chapter for you book, etc.) and write a $100 check to a friend, and hand it to them. If you take action, you get the check back. If you don’t take action, they cash it. This way, the fear of losing the money will put you in action like it never has before.

(Link includes a coupon code.)

Alina Kislenko

Give a friend 10 or 20 dollars (whatever amount you don’t want to lose) and tell them to only give it back if you finish your project step by a certain date and time. That puts a fire under your as$ like no one’s business and helped me graduate top of my class from my master’s degree!

Take care of yourself first and foremost.

Nadine Bekkouche

To keep going and stay productive when you’re not feeling at all motivated, you need to…

Take care of yourself! Figure out what would make you feel better right now. A jog, a stretch, some music, a chat, a hug, some sleep, some healthy food? Give it to yourself. Once your needs are met, you can remember how passionate you feel about your goals, your work…and get back in there!

Dawid Tuminski

The #1 tip to keep going and stay productive is to just stop and relax until you clear your head. In fact, rest should be the first thing you plan for the day.

There is nothing more demotivating and diminishing to productivity than tiredness. Especially if your work involves creativity, rest is essential to stay positive and full of ideas.

Donald Wong

The most productive entrepreneurs use SIMPLE, FAST TOOLS everyday to CONSISTENTLY perform at their best. Our highest growth clients use at least one of the following each day, even on family days: a 10 minute cold shower, 15 minutes of positive meditation, 10 minutes of future forecasting, and proper hydration. Most importantly, surround yourself with those who push you towards your dreams.

Josh Paulsen

Take 15 minutes to change your physiology. Go for a walk, or run while listing to your favorite music. Spend time meditating, or just taking deep breaths. Even doing a few jumping jacks or push-ups can create enough energy and motivation to help you get going.

Be clear about your goal and top priorities.

Meike Hohenwarter, MSc

Usually, when people do not feel motivated, they are [missing] the big picture. They are stuck in details, which would be clear once they have completely clarified what the goal and outcome of the work should be. But this must not only be done mentally; [it] has to include a clear picture and feel of the outcome.

Karen Oliver

Whenever you feel like you’ve lost sight of why you’re doing something, take a piece of paper, draw a 2×2 grid, and write across the top ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages,’ and down the side, write ‘doing it’ and ‘not doing it.’ Then, list the pros and con of completing your task and also of not completing it. This exercise will either keep you on track, or make you rethink your priorities.

Write down your goal and display it where you can see it. 

Tanmoy Das

One way to keep you at your goal is to write it down in BIG LETTERS and hang it right in front of your work desk, where you can see it every time you lift your head from the PC. It reminds me of what I need to achieve and keeps me motivated to stay productive!

Start small and “warm up” first.

Oskars Dombrava

My best productivity tip would be just set a timer for one minute and start doing the task. Similar, like for a workout, you need warm up for work. It will get you in [shape], and after a minute, you probably will want to finish that task, which you started.

Be active, show appreciation, and don’t compare yourself to others.

Mr. Mohamed Dafallah

So here [are] three tips that are really important for me.

Number 1: Be active. People love talking but they don’t understand that the only thing that will take you a step further to your goal is [if] you do something, anything, even if it is small.

Number 2: Appreciate the people around you, especially those who help you. You cannot accomplish anything on your own, no one ( or very, very rarely) can anyone say they have been successful on their own. The people who believe in you are the most important to you and you should give them your respect and time.

Number 3: Don’t look at a successful person and say that you can never be him/her because he/she has a Bugatti or something you don’t have. You must understand that a successful person’s next step is not your next step, and so, focus on yours and be CONSISTENT at it.

Do/sell what you love.

Samantha Lynn

LOVE YOUR PRODUCT. Don’t stock your shop with something solely because it makes money; you’ll burn out fast. It’s easier to answer the same questions, over and over, when you love talking about your product. It’s easier to wake up early and stay up late when you love your job.

Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.


My motivation comes from the people around me, so when I notice myself losing productivity, I increase interaction with my customers and friends in the community, and that always gives me new ideas and a renewed fire to work with.

Below, you’ll find the infographic I mentioned earlier, which you can view, download, or pin

Here's how you can stay productive and motivated even when your energy levels run low.

I hope you found these motivation and productivity tips useful! Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and if you have any other advice to share. 

Here's how you can stay productive and motivated even when your energy levels run low.