In my effort to increase productivity and achieve super-human status, I’ve found myself experimenting in 2015. If Tim Ferriss can do it, then why can’t I?
One of the most interesting patterns I’ve been able to observe is how the super-productive and successful have standardized so many things in their lives. What a paradox!
The Paradox of Choice
Some of the most successful people in life – Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, etc. – all offer products and services in the marketplace that are seemingly full of choice.
For instance, if you’re on Facebook, how many features can you use to communicate, learn and interact with users? If you’re using Microsoft Windows, you’ve have about a dozen ways to do one task. Or, if you watch Oprah’s network (OWN) on TV, there are dozens of programs to choose from.
This must mean that choice is a good thing, right?
Well, this is the paradox and productivity hack that’s a game changer.
Back in my unproductive days when television was my BFF, I recall watching an A&E Biography show on Ryan Seacrest. I had no idea how successful he was and he attributed it to a downplayed concept called standardization.
Here’s the hack: successful people do the same things at the same time over and over again.
They eat the same breakfast at the same time each day. They have minimal wardrobes (Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, anyone?), they repeat the same activities at work, etc. There’s so many examples of this.
Choices Are Horrible?
What I take away from this is that too many choices, after a certain point, are a bad thing. It tends to keep us bogged down, distracted and away from our true work. Our mind and body can only exert so much energy on a daily basis so using this to focus on choices that take us away from core work can be a bad thing.
The Personal Experiment
After learning about this (and after much convincing), my wife and I have decided to give standardization a try. So far, we’ve standardized our breakfast and we have it much earlier than we ever did.
Now, we’re trying to standardize clothes, activities, the days we cook, the foods we eat and more.
I’m also trying to bring the same attitude to work. In fact, we all are. We’ve segmented days for training, content, product development, special projects and more. This allows us to focus and go deep for 8 hours a day on one category, instead of bouncing around from one category (like training or sales) to the next.
The Bottom Line
Time is at such a premium and the more I can save, the more I can invest in areas that matter to me (like my family, clients, peers and more). And even more than this, I think most of us just feel overwhelmed most days. Standardizing can bring comfort knowing what you have to do and when.
So, here’s your task if you choose to accept it. It’ll take you 5 minutes per category so it’s well worth the effort. List all of the things you can standardize in the following areas:
- Sales: block off recurring times for prospecting, nurturing, learning and more.
- Food: come up with a weekly menu for yourself and repeat it 4 weeks in a row.
- Clothes: figure out exactly what clothes you’ll wear next week.
- Housework: standardize the days you’ll do all of your housework (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.)
Let me know your thoughts on this - think it’s worth it or do you think I’m nuts?