5 Simple Mindset You Need to Adopt to Improve Productivity

The one true commodity in this world is our time and it’s fair game there. Everyone has only 24 hours a day. It’s a finite resource and yet, some people seem to be able to do more and often, with lesser time.
Now, while there are many methods and technology we can employ to increase our daily productivity, I thought it’s better if we start with the fundamentals - the mindset needed to embrace and sustain your new, useful, productivity habits.
And no, it’s not because more is better, but I figured five is a good place for us to start.

1. Parkinson’s Law

From Wikipedia, the definition of this law is:
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
What that simply means is if you give a task X amount of time, it will take X amount of time to complete.
Imagine this: You’re back in university, and your lecturer had just informed the class of an upcoming assignment and everyone was given three weeks to complete it. You make a mental note of the plan and schedule, the resource and time you need and maybe even start with some research. You’re confident that three weeks is enough time to produce a good report. Two days later, the same lecturer announced due to some administrative issues, everyone has to submit the report by the end of the week! You got frantic. You rushed like mad. Three weeks work in three days? And yet, you managed to get it done.
You may argue that it could have been rushed work, hence, bad work. However, if you examine the other times you’ve done such assignments, didn’t you leave it to the last minute to start working on it? And the outcome was still as good, right?
However, I am not suggesting to rush through your work. Instead, take a look at your original allocated time for a task and commit to a time limit that’s shorter by 30 to 50%. With lesser time, you will now psychologically be pressured to get the work done.

2. Give Up On Perfection

Often, we spend too much time analyzing or executing a task, mainly because we are trying to “perfect” it. Truth be told, those expectations of perfection are mostly in our heads and most of the time, it is far out of reach.
Instead of striving for perfection, strive for excellence. The results must be created in an optimized timeframe, with optimized resources, and meet the basic expectations. If you have a little bit more time, you can strive to improve on it a little more, but always set an expiry date to limit yourself from spending too much time.
This applies to decision making too, especially when it comes to new areas previously unexplored. I remembered one thing leadership guru Dr. John Maxwell mentioned before,
“In familiar territories, plan before you act. In unfamiliar territories, act first.”
Frankly, we can never have all the information needed before we act, so it’s best to just take action and learn and evaluate as we go along.

3. Two Minute Rule

This one, I learned from Steve Olenski, a regular Forbes writer and brilliant content marketer. He recommends implementing the "two-minute rule" to make the most of little pockets of time that you have as you go along your daily work. The reason is simple: According to Olenski, completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later.
So, the next time you have a task, may it be responding to an email, giving your team a short briefing or replying to a few critical messages, ask yourself if you can complete it under two minutes. If yes, do it immediately and get it out of the way.
Another side effect of this is that these “small wins or accomplishments” will help you boost your positivity, as you unconsciously take note of how much you’ve done in the day.

4. Batching Similar Task

Award-winning podcasting and best selling author, Tim Ferriss, introduced the concept of “batching" to his fans over a decade ago. It’s nothing new, really, because if you are familiar with the manufacturing process, grouping similar task together had been implemented in factories for ages.
In his book, the 4-Hour Workweek, he used this example: Time yourself as you do a load of your laundry. Let’s say it’s 15 minutes. Now, combine three loads together and if you do it one shot, you will realize that you will not necessarily triple your time. It can even be done under thirty minutes!
When it comes to similar tasks, our body leverages on muscle memory to speed up the process. You can apply this to perhaps checking your emails only twice a day, allocated a fixed time (as outline in Mindset #1 to clear all the emails, so you don’t have to worry about it until the next time to check your emails. Tim suggested adding a simple auto-reply that states your email "availability" times and if it’s an emergency, to have the sender call you directly.

5. Own Your Calendar

Remember when we started this article, we talked about the finite resource of time? It’s yours - the whole 24 hours of it - and you have to manage it. Here’s where prioritizing comes in.
Over the weekend (most productivity experts do it on Sunday evenings), they will plan their week by blocking off time for the most important of tasks. I also recommend keeping your most productive times (periods when you can focus way better) for your best work. Then, make your calendar public so those who wish to schedule time to meet you can only book your available time slots. This, as a bonus, reduces the back and forth of setting up a meeting time.
Oh yes, don’t forget to schedule in your personal and family time. While some may argue that work balance is an illusion, it is something worth striving for. After all, what’s the use of winning back more time and not spend it doing the things close to your heart?


One more thing that John Maxwell thought me, was that “Activity doesn’t always equal accomplishment.” That’s why being able to prioritize your time is important and starting with having the right mindsets around it is fundamental. When we look at time and our beliefs around it differently, we can find ways to maximize each tick of this finite resource.