10 Images That Explain Productivity

There are some basic principles that apply to productivity in general. Whether it’s about time management, motivation, or just getting things done, some rules work for anybody. We’re not talking about waking up early, exercising, or reading everyday. Those activities may or may not increase productivity, but they also come down to personal preference. Today, we’re looking at “universal” productivity rules. Things that work in 99% of the cases.

A lot of these rules can be explained in a simple visual way. Graphs and charts are an amazing tool to help you acknowledge how long there is to go, how far you’ve come, and where you are on a certain timeline.

With that in mind, here are 10 productivity images explained. They can help you for planning, giving you a motivation boost, starting a project, measuring metrics… you decide.


1. People quit too early

Any change requires consistency. In many cases, no matter the project, progress will be very fast at first. It will feel great. Then there will come a plateau, maybe even a dip. It will be a period where you feel like there is little to no progress. You might even feel like you’re going downhill. That’s when a lot of people will give up.

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But the truth is, once you make it past that plateau, progress will start going up again. There will still be some lows along the way, but the overall trend will be upwards. The key is to make it through the plateau of “no progress”. It can last for a while, but it will go up again. You just have to keep showing up.

Adrian Drew wrote about the dip here.

2. Progress is exponential

Not only does it start going up again once you make it through the plateau, it gets easier. The more you stick to what you said and work on your project(s), the more results you will get for the same amount of work.

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The same annoying task that is taking you forever right now could very well return 10x the investment in time, money, or brain power, 3 months down the line.

3. Committing feels great

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Committing to something and not dropping it 3 weeks after has a lot of upsides.

Failure becomes relative

The longer the timeline, the smaller failures will appear. When you you’ve given yourself 3 years to try something out, most failures won’t matter as much, most mistakes won’t feel as bad.

You always have something to look forward to

When you have a plan, by definition, you know what to do. You know what tomorrow will be made of a lot more than most people. You start building your environment rather than simply reacting to it.

You enjoy your success more

By measuring your success over the course of the next 3 years instead of the next 3 weeks, you will no longer identify yourself based upon your short-term failures. You will enjoy yourself a lot more.

It’s easier to get organised.

When you already know your timeline in advance, all you have to do is fill it up with tasks and goals. For instance, 3 years is 156 weeks, 1095 days, or 26280 hours. You just have to fill in the boxes with activities

4. Experiment

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One of the main obstacles to generating change is the routine. In order to generate change in your life, you need to break the routine. To do that, use experiments. Not just with your routine, but also with your interests, your passion, your projects. Find something you really want to spend time working on by experimenting.

Once you’ve figured that out, experiment again, with productivity processes.

Try working in the early morning.

Try switching your diet.

Try running before long sessions of work.

Break the routine as much as possible to find one that will generate change for yourself.

5. 1 week is 168 hours

We all get 24 hours is a week. You, me, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet… 24 hours multiplied by 7 days is 168 hours. What matters is what you decide to do with this time.

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So many people think they don’t have time. But the truth is:

Even if you sleep for 7 hours per day.

Then spend 1 hour in the bathroom.

2 hours eating.

And 2 more procrastinating.

You still have 25 hours left in your week. That’s more than 2 days to do things that matter.

Looking at your time in chunks of 168 hours rather than 24 hours can seriously change your life. Laura Vanderkam wrote an amazing book about this.

6. Plan everything or get off track

A goal without a plan is just a wish. You wouldn’t believe how much closer you get to a goal by simply starting to plan for it.

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By defining clear and actionable steps all the way to your target, you will 10x your chances of success. It will be a lot easier to get to work, because you will know what you have to do .

7. Prioritise or get overwhelmed

Prioritise Your Goals With The Heat Map Strategy, Joseph Mavericks

Prioritising goes hand in hand with planning. Once you have a plan, you need to make sure you assign priorities to tasks, otherwise you won’t know in what order to tackle them.

Once you prioritise, it’s a lot easier to navigate your life on a daily basis. You can acknowledge to what level things get in the way of your work, and react accordingly.

If you encounter something blocking you when you’re trying to work on one of your Top 3 priorities, you absolutely need to get rid of it.

But if you’re blocked by something while working on the 10th item on your list, it’s not as bad, because the 10th item on your list is not the most important.

8. Write down your goals

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You are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. There’s no general truth when it comes to these kind of studies. But the point here is this: writing down your goals will greatly increase your chances of reaching them.

Your goals should be:

  • Specific. Frame your goals as precisely as possible, don’t be vague.
  • Measurable. Identify the key metrics of your goals, and create targets on a timeline with each metric. For instance, for writing a book, a key metric would be the number of words you need to write, and a target could be the number of words you write every week.
  • Stimulating. Your goals need to create emotions in you, they need to excite you. They should require you to learn new skills, to totally get out of your comfort zone. They should make you feel alive.
  • Difficult. A lot of people set too easy goals for themselves. Your goals should scare you. Nobody ever got anywhere by being realistic. Set goals that you know are going to be challenging.

9. You create your own environment

This is a huge game changer. The day you realise that you can shape your environment by choosing to react differently to its stimulations, then you can seriously change your life.

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If it’s raining outside and it makes you feel depressed, you can choose otherwise. Most people will say “I’m feeling down because today is a gray day.” But the truth is, it can be sunny in your heart and in your mind. You just have to change the way you react to this gray day.

If somebody makes you feel angry by their actions or what they’re saying, you let them influence you in that way. You can decide to change the way you react to their attitude. Do not let that get in your way. Do not waste your energy on generating negative feelings.

10. Be open, be happy

The world is already going fast enough.

Life is already complicated enough.

There’s already enough problems in this world.

Don’t make it harder by locking yourself up in a shell of negative emotions.

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Everything gets created from being open-minded, tolerant and positive. Opportunities, projects, meeting new people, discovering new worlds…

Anger might arise from times to times. But when it does, look at yourself. Explain your anger instead of expressing it, it will help you find solutions instead of arguments.

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