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Productivity: 40 habits that help you achieve 10x more in the same amount of time

Productivity: 40 tips on how to achieve 10x more per workday [Hacks].

Productivity, or accomplishing more in the same amount of time, can be a determining factor in your professional success and personal happiness. 

If you search for "increase productivity" or "productivity formula" on Google, you will quickly see that many articles overlap and often offer tips such as "plan your day," "set priorities," "stop multitasking," or the like.

Some of these recommendations may work well. Others seem to me to be too abstract or out of touch with life.

In this article, I want to write down 40 habits or "hacks" for productivity that really shape my everyday life.

Thanks to these habits, I was able to start several successful companies. - Somewhat less glamorously presented: I didn't take many of these habits seriously for a long time and wasted an incredible amount of time doing so.

I will be happy if one or the other idea helps you to achieve 10 times more in the same time

1. think first, then do. [Top tip for productivity]

It sounds obvious and is often neglected in everyday life:

First, think about how you can achieve what you want to achieve faster.

This is not easy: Man is a Creature of habit - and must even be, due to the complexity of his way of life. 

Life and work styles are rarely questioned.

Productivity: The most dangerous phrase in language we've always done it this way

Sometimes it is not even habit that determines the difficulty, but social pressure or clinging to one's own, often overestimated status. 

There are people who would rather not admit that the way you work is unproductive than change and live more successfully. Social pressure and status thinking provide a sure path to a lot of wasted time, unproductivity and dissatisfaction.

Change Change

My recommendation:

Get in the habit of thinking imaginatively about how you can complete a task faster.

With imagination you will come up with solutions that will increase your productivity many times over.

Examples from everyday work:  

Create Excel spreadsheets, write emails or design presentations.

Often such tasks take 10 times longer with the "just work on it" method, taking all consequences into account: an immense loss of productivity.

It's worth considering first what the end result might look like, which parts of the work are repetitive, and how to get there faster.

Excel and Google Sheets, for example, offer countless functions that can be used to create even complex analyses very quickly. A short research on spreadsheet formulas can save an enormous amount of time.

A well well thought-out storyline can speed up detailed work on a presentation tenfold if it means you avoid having to rearrange everything later.

For simple tasks ea job to Freelancers awarded can instantly shorten your work by hours or days. See more below.

Another example specifically for team leaders or managers:

First carefully consider the consequences of your visions, goals or tasks, test them and only then communicate them: This will save you a lot of time to clarify misunderstandings later or to correct the course of your employees. 

You focus your most valuable resource, your employees, on the right things. Your team becomes more productive.

2. answer the question why? 

The Why ("Why") was hyped a few years ago by Simon Sinek's TED Talk:

Sinek refers to the big ideas of companies or personalities that inspire others.

However, the "why" also works on a small scale. 

Ask yourself what problem you want to solve through your work. The disappearance of the problem is the why of your work.


Don't settle for the first best idea of what the problem might be. Take enough time to understand what solution is really needed.

A classic example: 

You need to create a presentation for a client about your company's offer.

The problem you a little too hastily comes to mind and you want to solve with this presentation: The customer does not have enough information about your offer.

Your a little too hasty Solution: Create a great glossy presentation that impresses graphically and summarizes all of your company's products, services and added values in a comprehensive way.

A reflection or conversation with the customer about their goals would have shown:

The customer is only interested in one part of your offer. He is not even interested in your capabilities, but in more money, more productivity, less loss of time, entertainment, progress or the like for himself.

Neither the customer nor his colleagues have the desire or time to have to study the extensive service catalog of a self-absorbed service provider. 

The problem relates only to one part, more precisely written: Consequence of your solution for the customer.

You can save the time of rehashing your full offer and make your customer happier on top of that!

3. urgency and importance: divide large tasks according to the Eisenhower principle.

This principle is commonly known as. Eisenhower Principle, named after General and later U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had to decide what was urgent or important or neither in the fight against Hitler's criminal regime for the good of the whole world during World War II.

If a task is neither urgent, nor important, let it be: you will block time for the important and urgent issues.

The Eisenhower principle needs to be put into perspective in real life:

What is urgent and important is often decided only by a feeling. The future is too uncertain. No decision is certain, otherwise it would be a conclusion.

Some prefer to leave big decisions to her or his supervisor.

Many tasks are so small and of short duration that it is not even worth the time to think about importance or urgency. It's better to just do such tasks immediately and forget about them.

The recommendation to prioritize tasks by urgency and importance applies almost exclusively to larger projects that take several days, weeks, months or years to complete.

But at least it is worth it in such cases:

You may save days, weeks, months or years.

4. don't plan too far ahead: rather, try to do small tasks exceptionally well.

American actor and director Woody Allen once remarked:

Productivity: Woody Allen If you want to make god laugh, tell him about your plans

Because firstly, it comes differently and secondly, than you think. 

That's why most long-term plans have one thing in common: they're wrong.

Instead of investing a lot of time and energy in long-term planning, it pays to define rather fuzzy visions and keep them flexible in order to focus on the execution and quality of the small steps.

5. learn as much as you can - for life.

What is the difference between an experienced software developer and a beginner who is just learning to program? The first one is probably 1000x faster when it comes to improving or rewriting a software.

The salesperson who has learned how to understand customer needs, how to present the value of her solution, how to handle objections, and how to close deals closes more customer orders than colleagues who don't; 10-30 times more if necessary!

The marketer who knows how best to reach prospects or position her brand makes the difference between stagnant and dynamic, successful business development.

The CEO who has studied leadership and learned how to motivate employees to perform at their best will achieve much more with your company than the competition, which is led by a narcissistic manager who is resistant to advice.

In short, knowledge accelerates the way you work in countless contexts.

Knowledge is gained through learning.

Those who want to permanently increase their productivity rely on lifelong learning.

6. executives: establish a learning culture!

The latter point about personal learning as a measure to increase productivity is invaluable, especially for managers. 

A recently shared fictional dialogue between CEO and CFO is thought-provoking:

CEO CFO Productivity

As a manager, it definitely pays to invest in the training of your employees to increase productivity. 

Invest in Learning contentthat inspire and develop your employees and at the same time increase your business success.

Invest in a Good in-house learning platformto systematically train your employees, eliminate weaknesses or achieve faster and better results.

Important: Align your learning initiatives with your business or departmental goals.

On our own account:

Our mission at MaxBrain is to increase our customers' business success via our learning platform. - For almost all of our industrial customers, the focus is on productivity: be it via sales training, product training or in the further training of their own managers.

If you are interested in establishing a solid learning culture to sustainably increase the productivity of your employees, contact us and or amount a test account at MaxBrain.

7. get into the habit of virtuous behavior.

This recommendation sounds a bit archaic and is actually a bit older.

Strictly speaking, this recommendation goes back to the philosopher Aristotle (384 B.C. to 322 B.C.), who founded an epoch-making philosophy, was a natural scientist and among others Alexander the Great as a teacher and advisor.

Aristotle's virtue ethics in one of his major works, the Nicomachean Ethics, did refer to the question of how one might happy could become. His answer: through virtue, that is, good habits.

His teachings can be applied well to the factors around productivity in a more modern context.

It is worth getting into the habit of good and productive behavior. Good behavior is characterized by being in the middle between unproductive extremes.

Specifically, it pays to cultivate the following habits:

Be neither stingy nor wasteful, but generous. - You will achieve more with other people and become more productive.

Be neither cowardly nor foolhardy, but courageous. - Courage pays off especially in today's world, which offers tremendous possibilities and opportunities. Sometimes the greatest risk is not taking risks. 

Be neither callous, nor self-indulgent, but prudent. - Prudence helps you make better decisions and become more productive.

8. don't reinvent the wheel.

Don't keep reinventing the wheel: 

Check if someone else has already solved your task.

Ask your colleagues.

Or ask Google.

There is almost always someone who has already done something similar, offers templates or shares their experience and valuable tips. The only thing you need to be able to do is to ask openly or search cleverly online.

9. Use freelancers for simple but time-consuming tasks.

In everyday work, there are many simple tasks that are very time-consuming.

This includes, for example, lead research in sales, image or video editing in marketing, creating or checking complex Excel spreadsheets, repetitive work in accounting and much more.

The tip for more productivity:

Use platforms like Fiverr or

Here you can find thousands of cheap freelancers who can do such work quickly and sometimes better than you can.

Pay attention to reviews and customer opinions about these freelancers.

Over time, build a group of external collaborators who you know will work quickly, affordably and competently.

You can delegate simple work that takes 1-8 hours in 5 minutes.

You save 12-96 times your time and focus on the important and urgent tasks 

For executives, the point about freelancers deserves an additional mention.

Managers are often unaware of how much time and money it costs to have employees perform simple, time-consuming tasks.

An often seen example:

In one of my previous companies, I spent a month measuring how much time the sales staff spent researching new leads. At that time, the sales team consisted of 39 employees at three locations in Germany and the USA.

The result: 2-3 hours a day, every single sales employee researched their leads in different industries!

In a working day of 8 hours, that's about 25-35% of the time!

When one becomes aware of these staggering numbers, the losses in productivity and profitability are immediately apparent:

Productivity: First, salespeople who research lead data themselves have 25-35% less time to focus on their core competency of customer acquisition.

Profitability: Secondly, the costs for lead research are completely outrageous. The expenditure for lead research with 25-35% of the working time of my employees meant that I invested between 10 and 14 (!) full-time positions in Germany and the USA for lead research alone, and that in employees whose core competence was not at all to do Internet research and data analysis!

From an economic point of view, complete nonsense!

Do you want to increase the productivity of your employees or save a lot of money?

Recruit a pool of low-cost freelancers and delegate as many simple tasks that are time-consuming as possible.

10. Use only collaborative tools, if possible.

The year is 2022.

Web-based cloud applications that enable collaborative work have been tested millions of times, meet high security standards and are intuitive for everyone to use.

My preferred tools of this kind are Google Workspace, DocuSign or Figma for design and product management.

Nevertheless, I regularly receive locally stored Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel files from companies, especially large corporations. 

The hassle of emailing updated versions back and forth immediately reduces productivity for everyone involved.

Productive companies work with as few locally stored files as possible and rely fully on collaborative working.

11. work in a productive team.

For your own productivity, the efficiency and competence of the people you work with are invaluable.

If a team is more dynamic than average and achieves in days what others need months for, this has a pull effect on your own productivity.

For one thing, in such teams you learn more ways to accomplish more in the same amount of time.

On the other hand, a dynamic, results-oriented team spirit is tremendously motivating and has a positive effect on your ambition.

12. share your goals with others. 

You still know it from your student days: Most of the seminar paper is written the night before the deadline. The pressure had to come from outside.

Social pressure works wonders for a social animal like humans:

Recognition and fear of personal criticism are among the strongest non-monetary motivators for most people.

Share with others how much you want to accomplish in the shortest amount of time. 

They put themselves under pressure and want to avoid being ridiculed as a loudmouth. 

Insofar as you are interested in the opinions of others, there is hardly a more powerful lever for your own productivity.

13. stay friendly: don't waste time with unnecessary conflicts and increase your productivity.

Being friendly and polite may sound like a given, but it's not always easy in a hectic everyday life and in tense business situations.

Once aside from personal style and ethics, kindness helps you be more productive. 

Friendly people waste less time on pointless arguments, petty company politics and prefer to be supported by others.

Be friendly to your colleagues.

14. the cosmic view: don't get stressed out by small operational crises.

In every company and workplace, there are moments when some seemingly terrible event happens:

A customer complaint, a termination, a nasty press report, a warning, an insulting remark, banal envy, harsh criticism or a competitor's lie - the list can be extended indefinitely.

Often, these are what I call "operational micro-crises."

They are crises that are always small and insignificant in retrospect, but feel deep and painful the moment they unfold. 

Common mistake: The own person or the problem is taken far too important.

The best remedy for this is what I call the "cosmic view."

The most radical manifestation of this cosmic view is to remember that you yourself are only a small dot on a big planet; the planet only a dot in the solar system; the solar system only a dot in the Milky Way and the Milky Way remains only a dot in the universe. You have no reason to be upset about a dot. 

Cosmic view and operational minor crises

Of course, for psycho-hygienic reasons, one should not and cannot think that far in everyday work. 

However, just remembering that life goes on and operational minor crises are almost invariably short-lived helps not to be intimidated by them, to get on with work and not to limit productivity.

Don't take yourself and operational petty crises too seriously. Remain objective. Rather, focus on what needs to be done. The crisis will disappear and you will be more productive.

15. be inspired by great personalities.

I admit to being a Steve Jobs Fanboy fanboy. 

Despite knowing his character and interpersonal flaws, when he was alive I looked forward to each of his keynotes for days in advance and was entranced by each of his presentations, interviews and stories.

Personalities who achieve great things have always been masters of productivity: 

They can achieve much more in a short time than ordinary mortals because of their unconditional focus on the essentials.

Find one or more such inspirational figures and let them inspire you to the point of raising your own standards.

Your productivity will be accelerated automatically.

Here's another video that every true Steve Jobs fanboy knows by heart:

16. ask for help from others who can do it better.

Unless you're a genius - and unfortunately, statistically speaking, almost no one is - there's always someone out there who can do what they're trying to accomplish better. 

For many tasks, there are probably people in your own company who can help. Many people are surprisingly happy to help if you just ask them.

Jump over your own shadow: Ask others for help.

Forget about your pride. (Otherwise, re-read the chapter above on the cosmic view). 

Your productivity will quickly increase as a result.

17. guard your flow moments and complete small tasks immediately.

Occasionally, people get into what is called "flow". They are then so focused on the task at hand that any distraction immediately interferes and slows down their progress. 

These flow moments should guard them against any distractions: this time is too valuable and too productive.

If you are in such a flow not are in such a flow and small tasks are pending - such as answering e-mails or briefly supporting a colleague: do this small task immediately!

The reason: 

If you do the small tasks right away, you won't need energy to remember them. You save energy that is better spent on your productivity.

18. meetings standing

Meetings can be very useful, but they can eat up time, especially if some or all of the participants are not focused on the core topic of the meeting and there are employees for whom meetings are welcome breaks to doze off peacefully and unnoticed.

Admittedly, it is difficult to convince colleagues to hold a standing meeting.

If more meetings were held standing up, everyone would have more time. 

Try it out occasionally.

Increase productivity with standing meetings

19. breaks: Have a walk (in the forrest)!

The recommendation to take breaks now and then or even to plan in advance is not new. After all, this list is primarily intended to be useful, not just new.

It has been proven that it makes sense to rest a little now and then in order to become all the faster afterwards. You are not a machine.

My personal preference for breaks: going for a walk.

I am not a doctor, but probably exercise is good for the circulation and calms the nerves a bit.

It is scientifically proven that forest bathing is healthy. If you have the luxury of being able to visit green space near where you work, take advantage of it.

Take a colleague with you to discuss how the team could be more productive....

20. done is better than perfect

There are people who suffer from perfectionism because they never finish their tasks.

Perfectionism is often not required at all.

Whenever the effort for later corrections is smaller than the effort to complete a task perfectly, perfectionism means the loss of productivity.

Focus on completing tasks excellently but within reasonable time; not perfectly.

21. working on productivity is energy management: pay attention to your sleep.

Tired people are less productive.

Pay attention to your sleep, even at times when you are very busy and have complex challenges to think about.

Personally, I am one of those people who often do not follow this important recommendation because there is always a lot to do and learn. I regularly regret disregarding this recommendation. 

You also write such blog articles for yourself.

22. from 23:00 no more smartphone!

Probably apps like Netflix, YouTube, Instagram and all news apps are the biggest productivity killers ever invented.

Instead of reading a book (more on this below) or going to sleep, people watch a series, YouTube shorts or an exciting movie, or read the latest developments around political events over which they themselves have no influence and whose facts are prepared in a mostly garbled manner in the media for the sensationalism of the masses.

Resist the temptation to sabotage your sleep and productivity with streaming hours or sensationalism. 

23. pay attention to your diet

This is another recommendation I have to keep reminding myself of; tasty unhealthy food is too tempting.

"You are what you eat." 

At least in part, the saying is probably true - even if I can identify rather poorly with a salad, a steak or a cheese.

One specific meal I pay particular attention to is lunch. 

Their timing is relatively inconvenient in the first half of a normal working day.

Never eat anything that makes them tired for the afternoon. - 

In my case, unfortunately, this is the pasta and breads of all kinds, which I value very much, and which must be avoided if I want to achieve more in the afternoon.

A healthy diet, or at least a diet that doesn't make you tired, is tremendously important to your productivity.

24. invest in templates and templates for all possible tasks.

You may have noticed that some tasks, emails, presentations, letters are often repetitive.

In cases of repetitive work, it's definitely worth creating very good, easy-to-copy templates and saving them in a note-taking app or the like so they can be found quickly.

Instead of restarting over and over and spending 15-30 minutes writing an email you've already sent 30 times with similar content, use your templates and write an email in 2 minutes: 7-15 times faster and more productive.

25. if there are too many open tasks: Make a list for yourself.

Having to remember costs energy and, at worst, leads to unnecessary stress.

If you are working on too many tasks at once, write down the list. 

This saves you the energy and time of having to remember each one, and frees you from the fear of forgetting one.

Often you find out with time that one or the other task is neither urgent nor important (see above). You can then eliminate them altogether and save a lot of time. - Your productivity increases again.

26. organize your folders.

I am regularly asked by former colleagues or family members if I still have this and that document from the distant past.

The reason is simple: 

I have maintained a very transparent, easy to find, logical folder structure on my computer and on Google Drive for years. 

Periodically, about every 1-2 weeks, I clean up the files on my computer's desktop and sort the files into well-named folders.

Finding an old file is just a matter of a few clicks for me.

Once apart from the involuntary function of a private archivist for my environment, this order helps me to work much better and more productively.

Invest in order in your computer and increase your productivity immediately.

27. be disciplined when naming files.

When you name a file in the cloud or on your computer, do your best to name it in a way that you will immediately understand what the file is about many months or years from now.

One of my personal preferences is to start a file name with the year month and day. For example:

"2022 08 18 Presentation X for Y"

This has the advantage that I can already tell from the file name when it was created.

This allows you to sort files by date directly based on their name and avoid having to bother with the date column in a folder.

Whatever works best for you: 

Name your files in such a way that they save time when searching later.

28 Work in a cool place

Even if this recommendation sounds banal, it helps me personally a lot:

Heat can severely sabotage your productivity.

Ventilate your room sometimes, find a cool place where you can work better and faster.

Check if your building offers air conditioning. 

At MaxBrain, we worked in the heat for half of this very warm summer until our landlady walked in one fine day to show us how to turn on the air conditioning (unknown to us until then).... 

29. pay attention to Decision Fatigue: my style of dress.

The recommendation sounds strange and is unlikely to please fashion-conscious people:

Always dress with the same style of clothing.

Those who know me, know that almost every day I put on a timeless Lacoste t-shirt in navy-blue color; with white sneakers and jeans. A habit that I have hardly ever changed for about 15 years.

It sounds insignificant at first glance, but the big advantage of always dressing the same way is that I don 't have to decide what to wear in the morning.

While other people are standing in front of their wardrobe, probably weighing up what will go down best with their colleagues today, I'm already at breakfast or out and about.

Apart from this time saving, which is greater in the long run (‚Čą 5 minutes x 365 days x 20 years = 608 hours), this recommendation has a deeper background:¬†

This will save you some "decision energy" every day.

This phenomenon, which has been scientifically studied in psychology, is particularly known under the English name "Decision Fatigue", which can be translated as "decision fatigue".

Decision Fatigue: The more decisions you have to make, the more tired you become and the worse your decisions become.

It is advisable to make important decisions rested and, if possible, in the morning.

If possible, avoid the situation of having to make unimportant decisions.

Apart from that, looks a navy-blue Lacoste T-shirt just looks good, despite misgivings from my colleagues and some nagging family members ūüôā .

30. read books

Books promote your own productivity much more than you think. 

Good books help to learn. 

I have already written above about the importance of learning and learning cultures.

However, good books have other lucrative features:

Books help you organize thoughts better. 

Those who think clearly are faster and more productive.

Books help you learn to write.

Ask yourself: how important is it for your work that you write well and understandably?

For most positions means Write well and with ease immediately means more productivity in the office. Be it because colleagues understand their emails or messages better or you can convince your clientele more effectively.

Books stimulate the imagination.

Unlike Netflix, YouTube videos, or TV shows that take the effort of figurative imagination away from you, books challenge and encourage your imagination.

Imagination you can very well use to find faster and easier ways in your arbeiot.

Books are a boon to your productivity.

Read books for more productivity

31. set goals for the day.

Most productivity guides and blogs recommend taking a day to plan.

As outlined above, however, plans can quickly become elaborate and are very quickly wrong because life and work offer too much unpredictability and the ways to accomplish a task are sometimes in the fog.

Goals work better than plans:

"By (time) I want to get (such and such) done."

However, setting goals is not always that easy:

If goals are too weak, you often achieve less than you could.

If goals are too difficult, it can end in frustration or weaken the importance of your goals through less commitment.

Setting goals, especially on a daily basis, requires some experience, patience and - if you prefer the ambitious versions - a lot of diligence.

If you don't have any goals at all, it's questionable whether you can even measure your productivity and whether your success won't become the product of chance. 

Productivity is defined as the achievement of a Goal is achieved in a certain time.

Learn to set goals that are ambitious but doable.

32. control possible distractions.

Some guidebooks and blog articles recommend eliminating distractions altogether.

However, this is difficult in real life: 

The world, acquaintances and work come across as too rich and too colorful.

While it is true that you can try to avoid some distractions:

My private office, for example, would be derided by some as a travesty: White walls, no refrigerator, a desk facing a wall.

Even more effective, however, is the mindset, or mindset, that you want to focus on your goals, achieve them, and get into a flow (see above).

The distractions remain, but you can control them thanks to this mindset and only fall for the seduction of the birthday cake at the other end of the office when you want to or just need a break.

Those who are good at managing the inevitable distractions of life and work achieve whole new levels of productivity.

33. listen to good music.

Music is the art of emotions.

Sad music makes you sad. Happy music makes you happy. Motivating music motivates.

A personal example:

A few months ago, when the embarrassing court case surrounding actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard was omnipresent on social media, I was shown an orchestral version of a main theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series on YouTube:

This music corresponds only very marginally to my personal musical taste; after all, I am a child of the much more profound classical piano music and admirer of timeless geniuses like Bach, Mozart or Chopin. 

Nevertheless, the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack probably had, in combination with the memory of the character of Jack Sparrows for a few days as an "earworm" had a motivating effect that certainly made my work more productive.

Choose motivational music that will stimulate you to work more motivated and faster.

34. write a fictitious press release before implementing an elaborate new idea.

This idea did not come from me, but from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.

Every time a product manager at Amazon raises the idea for a new feature or an elaborate new project, they ask for a fictional press release about it.

Why a press release?

Because press releases have to explain in simple terms to complete strangers what you have achieved and why what you are doing is important and relevant in the first place.

If you are not able to formulate the idea for a new feature or elaborate project in simple, exciting words, you should reconsider whether and how it is worthwhile to implement your idea.

Writing a fictitious press release is especially worthwhile for larger projects that are expected to take a lot of time. It will force you to think about what the value of your idea really is.

Be tough as nails with yourself: 

If thanks to fictitious press release it turns out that your idea is worthless or there are others that are much more exciting and important, just discard it!

Not wasting time with unimportant ideas is among the very best ways to increase your productivity.

35. reply to emails immediately or bundled at specific times.

Receiving and responding to emails is often seen as a productivity killer.

This does not have to be: 

It depends on exactly when and how you answer emails.

As listed above, you should not even be able to take notice of emails if you are in a "flow" and are highly productive solving a task.

However, an answered email has advantages: you don't have to think about it anymore and the recipient is grateful, provided that your email gives a good answer or solves a problem.

Therefore, I personally tend to answer e-mails rather faster, not to write, immediately. I save myself the energy of having to think about it and my counterpart is happy about the quick answer.

Interrupting flows for e-mails is only an option for me if the other person calls me to insist on the urgency of my reply. Otherwise, they remain unanswered as long as the flow continues.

Another tip: 

From time to time, take the trouble to unsubscribe from unsolicited and useless newsletters. Meaningless newsletters unnecessarily take away your attention and reduce your productivity.

36. optimize your commute.

For a while I commuted weekly from Zurich to Munich: 

About 6 hours of driving per week - about 250 hours per year in which my attention was only on the asphalt of Swiss and German highways.

Ideally, your workplace is only a few minutes away from your home: Over the course of the year, this will save you a lot of time, which you can use more sensibly and productively.

If driving hours can't be avoided, make them more productive!

Make non-critical phone calls, which you would have to do later in the office, in the car; of course only via the hands-free system, please!

Or better yet, listen to audiobooks that will introduce you to new and exciting ideas that will motivate you and make you more productive.

Or: Switch to the train and develop a way of working on the train.

Be that as it may: 

The commute offers plenty of opportunities to increase your own productivity.

37. avoid thinking errors: Sunk Cost Fallacy

Humans regularly commit errors in thinking.

If you would like to read or listen to these thinking errors in compressed form, I recommend the Spiegel bestseller by Swiss author Rolf Dobelli, "Die Kunst des klaren Denkens: 52 Denkfehler, die Sie besser andere √ľberlassen".

Thinking errors can significantly affect your productivity.

The most famous example is the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Sunk costs are costs that you irrationally retain because you are holding on to something based on the past that is not actually worthwhile for the future.

A crystal clear example:

You have invested a lot of time in a marketing campaign, developed ideas, designed creatives, created landing pages and much more.

Unfortunately, this campaign does not perform as well as others. In fact, it's likely that any future investments, advertising budgets, and time you invest simply won't pay off.

In this case, it makes sense to stop the campaign immediately and waste no more money or time.

This may sound obvious to you.

And yet, it's not always that simple; especially when you can't estimate exactly what the Opportunity costs are; that is, the cost of a missed alternative.

At MaxBrain, we occasionally run into this problem with potential customers: they are stuck with an outdated system or an unproductive way of working.

An often heard phrase in this context: 

"We have invested so much in our system now that we don't want to switch."

As soon as you hear this argument, you should immediately smell the Sunk Cost Fallacy: 

The past is invoked to justify future actions. 

The opportunity to seize a better, more effective and lucrative opportunity is simply missed. The increased productivity that results from using a better learning platform is not even realized.

38. managers: hire employees who work hard. 

Some time ago there was a report that Daniel Schwartz, the CEO of Burger King, regularly asks candidates during job interviews whether they tend to work hard or smart .

His preference is for candidates who answer "hard."

Now, of course, you could immediately argue that you prefer to hire employees who work both hard and smart. - However, Daniel Schwartz is more concerned with the question of how modest someone is. Unmodest people are sometimes resistant to advice, hardly willing to learn anything new, and therefore tend to be unproductive.

However, the fact is: 

If you want to be faster and better than the competition, you either have to be smarter than the (stupid) competition; which is unlikely or at least unpredictable. Or recruit and motivate a team that is willing to work harder and harder than average.

Having the mindset of wanting to work hard to achieve more definitely helps with productivity.

Whenever you wonder why companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix are so successful, you have to realize that millions of people apply there every year and only those who work super hard are hired; just like the founders of these companies had to in their day.

39. team leaders: focus on the real strengths of each employee.

Software developers are usually good at focusing on something, are very direct or critical, ingenious at finding detail errors, and tend to be introverts.

Good sales people, on the other hand, are fascinated by interacting with other people, inspired by big ideas, love to listen, love to talk even more, and are usually extroverts; at least in their work environment.

It is immediately obvious that, according to these admittedly somewhat stereotypical characterizations, it is not a good idea to hire a software developer as a salesperson or, conversely, to place a salesperson in software development.

To be productive, it pays to deploy each employee in a way that best utilizes their strengths.

However, this is not so easy:

For example, many companies and managers make the mistake of rewarding the extraordinary performance of employees by offering them a management position as a "career advancement. The best sales person then suddenly becomes a sales leader in the hope that this person can get others to perform exceptionally well.

Unfortunately, managing and leading employees is different from successfully selling a product or a solution to customers. Leadership requires sensitivity for the wishes, goals, abilities, limitations and characters of other people. It needs a balance between challenge and encourage.

A promotion can be a bad example of just not playing to employees' strengths.

Conversely, there are employees who may not be particularly talented for their work, but have above-average leadership skills and could be much better used motivating others to perform at their best.

Make sure that you make the best possible use of your employees in accordance with your goals.

Never mix the desire to do good for an employee with one-dimensional career gifts. Rather, pay additional bonuses or otherwise give valuable recognition if this employee is not comfortable with leadership tasks.

40. use Google, YouTube and your learning platform.

Last but not least, I can't help but mention the two platforms from which I learned a lot of my personal skills for my work: Google, YouTube or our internal learning platform. 

Above I mentioned that it's worth searching on Google or YouTube to understand if someone else has already solved the problem you're working on.

Google and YouTube, however, go far beyond simple search engines.

Googles' original mission was to organize the world's knowledge: 

A great mission that only partially succeeded, but from which you can still benefit.

For example, it is worth subscribing to and actively following the channels on YouTube that regularly provide you with valuable knowledge for your work.

As a marketer, for example, I'm subscribed to the YouTube channels of Brian Dean, Neil Patel , and Moz to learn the latest effective marketing methods.

The recommendation is: 

Use YouTube and Google to find the channels and website that help you learn how to increase your competence and thus the productivity of your work. Share this knowledge with your employees and deploy a company-wide learning platform.

If you lead a team, it pays to systematically disseminate such learning content via a learning management system and ensure that your employees benefit from the knowledge of your strongest industry experts. 

Questions for you:

Now I would like to know what you think about this article or productivity. More precisely, I am interested in the following questions:

What habit or "hack" in this article seems particularly good to you?

What ideas are missing?

Please leave a comment on LinkedIn:

Did you like this article?

If yes, please share this article on your social media channels. Thank you very much!


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