“We only have so much energy for our work, for our relationships, for ourselves. A smart person understands this and guards it carefully. Meanwhile, idiots focus on marginal productivity hacks and gains while they leak out energy each passing day.”
Ryan Holiday (Author, The Obstacle Is The Way)
“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And, we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.”
Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist Monk)
“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”
Peter Drucker (American Businessman and Author, The Effective Executive)
How many times have you had a crazy-busy day, worked full-out, and reached the end only to realize that as busy as you were, you weren’t necessarily productive?
If you’re part of the majority, you’re nodding your head as you read this.
It’s an easy mistake to make, thinking busy-ness is the same as productivity, or that pace equals efficiency.
In that frenzy of activity is often multitasking, lack of focus, and time-wasting busy-ness.
It’s ineffective in producing outcomes, but it’s also a massively inefficient use of time.
In other words, working harder versus working smarter.
The product of that “hard work” isn’t success.
Instead, you’re falling behind, constantly stressed, and running out of energy.
All the productivity hacks in the world can’t save you.
Waking up earlier to get more hours in the day, combined with two-fisting your espresso shots, isn’t going to help.
Relying on deep breathing, your meditation membership, and that swag saunter you’ve mastered, isn’t the solution either.
Peak performance is mastered by being both efficient and effective at the same time.
Without turning into a stressed out monkey or hyper-scheduled freak.
The solution lies in the Law of Relaxed Productivity.
The Law of Relaxed Productivity states, “The more effective your process, the more productive you will be.”
The more efficient your process, the more relaxed you will be.
The key to being productive and relaxed at the same time is to be as effective and efficient as possible at the same time.
Anyone can be either effective or efficient, but few can do both simultaneously.
Many people are very good at being extremely productive and stressed out of their mind at the same time.
Others are very good at being transcendently relaxed and happy without ever being productive (they’re called hippies).
But can you do both?
Can you be both effective and efficient at the same time, or both productive and relaxed at the same time?
Abraham Lincoln said yes, you can.
Lincoln once wrote, “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.”
What did he mean by this?
Why was balancing the time spent sharpening and the time spent chopping important?
The answer lies in balancing effectiveness with efficiency.
In the mind of Lincoln, both efficiency and effectiveness are important for peak performance, but Lincoln favored effectiveness over efficiency 2:1 when it came to performing well.
If you follow Lincoln’s model of peak performance — valuing both effectiveness and efficiency but favoring the former 2:1 — you will not only excel in every area of your life, but you will also perfectly follow the law of being productive and relaxed at the same time.
This 2:1 ratio allows you to work smarter, not harder.
Why Working Harder Isn’t Smarter
In fact, it’s pretty dumb.
Even though the 2:1 ratio seems simple, few people have mastered it.
One reason is because of competing demands for your focus, information overload, and a backwards message that values long hours of hard work.
The International Workplace Productivity Survey, commissioned by LexisNexis, found a majority of workers reported increases in the volume of information they have to deal with at work, and 62% of them admitted that as a result, it negatively impacts the quality of their work.
Americans alone report spending ½ their day receiving and managing information.
As a result, they’re spending more time at work.
Working harder… and longer.
Even if they’re meeting their outcomes, they’re increasingly inefficient.
Being ineffective comes from compromised focus and competing stimuli.
So does being inefficient.
Longer working days result in less sleep and compromised focus.
The whole thing is a set-up to work against you and if you’re not actively strategizing against it, you’ll get assimilated into low productivity and “worker bee” mentality.
And, you’d be part of the majority.
Additionally, according to the New York Times article citing studies on productivity, working more contributed to lack of sleep in 400 employees (less than 6 hours a night) and was the number 1 predictor of job burn-out.
Additionally more than ⅓ of workers forego lunch breaks and 59% work on their vacations.
Continuing to work when you should be resting, and then stimulating with coffee, sugar, or sheer willpower, overrides your body’s natural rhythms.
With adequate sleep, however, overall physical and cognitive performance increased across the board.
Because your body needs renewal.
In the body and the mind.
Working longer and without breaks (or naps or vacations) will leave you overtired and stressed, but also less able to reach optimal focus.
Over 60 years of research has confirmed that people perform optimally (both effectively and efficiently) when they take breaks every 90 minutes.
This is based on the BRAC (Basic-Rest Activity Cycle).
Discussed in an article by PayScale, researchers out of Florida State University studied “elite performers,” finding that uninterrupted focus for 90 minutes or less, with breaks in between, contributed to maximum productivity.
Harnessing efficiency, these people rarely worked more than 4.5 hours a day.
Twice as much high-level work in half the time.
Sound like a familiar ratio?
How To Use The Law of Relaxed Productivity To Do More
The truth is, you work best when you’re focused and relaxed at the same time.
If you want to be successful, you’ll start implementing strategies to optimize both and making the Law of Relaxed Productivity work in your favor.
Because, if you can do everything on your list in half the time, you still have all those good hours to build in more purpose and passion into your life.
The Law of Relaxed Productivity is a framework for you to master these 2 things…
1. Optimal effectiveness.
If you think your long to-do list means you’re productive, no matter how much you cross off, you’re just wrong.
If you think doing endurance work, boasting no breaks and 15-hour long days, means you’re a workhorse of mass proportion… you’re still wrong.
The reality is that long lists and long hours only make you look productive.
And, they might even impress your boss, but they won’t bring you to your goals.
It’s the difference between being tactical versus strategic.
Being strategic means you look at the big picture and your endgame.
Your biggest goals and your overall purpose.
Then, you reverse engineer to create a plan of outcomes, benchmarks, and daily actions that will take you there.
And, you never lose focus on what you’re working towards.
On a micro-level, you’re starting your day with a short list.
3 things you need to accomplish that day.
And, you eat the frog first, which means you do the hardest one, or the one you least want to do, first.
Then, the rest of your day is built on success.
You work from a plan, like the sharpened axe.
You prepare your year, your month, your week, and each day so that you’re aligned with your purpose.
Otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re spinning your wheels.
Never really getting traction on your bigger goals.
Barely getting through mountains of paperwork, information overload, and aimless task completion.
Instead, learn to focus your best efforts on your most important tasks, increase your follow-through, and delegate less important tasks.
Follow success principles of others that have mastered peak performance.
Get up early, set up a morning routine that starts your day and has a trigger to launch into an effective day.
For example, you get up, go for a walk or meditate, grab a coffee, and read the morning news.
By the time your coffee is done, that’s your trigger to start work.
And then, you dive into one thing at a time with boundaries around your time, space, environment, and start and end-times.
And you build this as a habit and are disciplined in protecting the plan and the way you execute it in your day.
You avoid multi-tasking, minimize distractions from social media and your phone, and track your progress.
When you start focusing on results, rather than the clock, and start getting strategic with your time and your tasks, you’ll have mastered how to be truly effective.
You’ll also start to feel more relaxed because you’ll feel the momentum of your life start to increase while you feel more in control of your day and your direction.
2. Maximum efficiency.
Efficiency is all about focus.
Self-preservation, and self-control.
If you’re tired, you can’t focus.
If you’re stressed, you can’t focus.
If you’re around negative people, manipulative people, fake friends, or in toxic relationships, you can’t focus.
If you’re not taking care of yourself and taking enough breaks, you will never be efficient.
And, if you can’t control your emotions, you’ll never be relaxed.
Even if you start with the basics and you get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
Add in meditation or mindfulness.
Follow the BRAC principle and work with hard focus for 90 minutes and take frequent breaks.
Take your lunch break, and take vacations.
And use the break to get a reset.
All of the other strategies above are necessary, but not sufficient to maximize efficiency through laser beam focus.
You need to chill out.
If you’re stressed out, tense, and anxious, you’ll struggle with mastering efficiency.
Beyond your garden variety coping skills, you have to start mastering your own mind.
Just taking breaks isn’t enough if you’re stressing about your work while you’re on them.
You have to identify where you’re your own worst enemy within your own mind and prioritize real stress management.
Get some perspective.
Save your intensity for your work, not your reeling emotions.
Don’t take things personally or be so fragile.
Get out of bad relationships and get away from negative people.
Stop being reactive and dramatic.
Stop taking yourself so seriously… and everything else.
Laugh a little.
Loosen up and go do something wild.
Mostly… get a grip on your own mind.
Not everything is the end of the world.
And thinking it is will sabotage your focus every day.
Learn how to master your emotions.
I don’t mean stop feeling.
Being a robot isn’t the answer.
But, being an emotional basketcase will send you to the back of the line every time.
Sure, there are things outside of your control.
People and events will disappoint you.
Be self-reliant so you can stand on your own two feet when that happens.
Otherwise, you’ll end up an eternal victim of your own mind who is so fixated on your feelings that you’ll never be able to relax.
It’ll take you twice as long to complete tasks and the quality of your work will suffer.
And then, you’ll feel more emotional.
At which point, you should just give up.
Look, you know how to relax.
You don’t need anyone to hold your hand and pat you on the head and tell you it’s jello and nap time for you to settle down.
You need the right schedule and a smart strategy to be effective.
And, you need the right mindset to create a ripe environment for focus to be efficient.
This is how you’ll produce at your highest level in record time.
Being relaxed isn’t about doing less, it’s about being able to do more because you’re doing it the right way.
You’re optimizing your efforts on every level — mental, physical, and emotional.
This combination of being in ultimate control of your life and your schedule makes you unstoppable.
Being effective is about mastering your time. Being efficient is about mastering your focus. To optimize both simultaneously, you need to take control over your schedule and your environment. You can achieve the benefits of the Law of Relaxed Productivity, where you work at your best and accomplish more in record time, without sacrificing your health and the things you love. To produce at your full potential, you must be strategic with your time, align with your purpose, and fiercely protect your focus.
To learn more about Why Working Harder Will Not Make You Productive, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the wait list to create your Escape Plan and Achieve Intelligent Alignment.