The End of Willpower – 3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Productivity 

 December 17, 2020

Have you ever tried to start a new habit or behavior, just to watch yourself once again “fall off the wagon”?

Here’s how the pattern usually goes:

  1. Read something, see something, attend an event and your motivation shoots through the roof.
  2. You plan out your new habit or behavior, maybe even make a few purchases to support it.
  3. Day 1 comes, and you are so excited that doing the new behavior seems incredibly easy. Day’s 2-5 continue in the same fashion.
  4. On Day 6, the motivation is still there but oops, you had an unexpected event happen that caused you to miss your new habit. You think, “No worries, I’ve got this. I will just continue tomorrow!”
  5. For the next several weeks you find yourself going in and out on your new habit. Not fully committed and beginning to lose interest.
  6. By the time a couple months have passed, the new habit is just a distant memory.

Does this sound familiar? I know it does for me.

Productivity towards a new behavior is extremely difficult. Often, we rely heavily on motivation and willpower to get things done.

But here’s the cold hard truth…

Motivation and willpower are unreliable. You must redesign your behavior and environment.

Here are 3 simple ways to implement behavior design to increase your productivity:

  1. Start with your environment

What does your workspace look like? Is it cluttered? Do you have papers, sticky notes, pens, and little traces of food spread all over the place?

What about your living space?

To improve your productivity, start by designing your environment to make discipline easier.

I know that when I have a clean space to work in, I am able to think more clearly. When my desk area is a mess, I find myself constantly pushing things around and reorganizing, which wastes a lot of time.

Clean up.

  1. Simplify and automate

What tasks are you doing today that could be reprioritized or given to someone else?

What you spend your time on will determine your level of productivity. If you are thinking for 10 minutes about what you are going to wear, you not only wasted 10 minutes, you also increased the amount of cognitive load placed on your brain.

Cognitive load is essentially all of the things that we choose to spend time on or pay attention to that take mental effort. Having too much cognitive load takes away from your ability to be productive and creative.

Set your clothes out the night before, practice meal prep for the week on Saturday or Sunday, write out a day script.

  1. Enter the zone

Today’s workforce is constantly trying harder, working longer, and running faster.

Are you not tired of the status quo? I know I am.

Brute force is not the answer for increasing your productivity. Sure, it may work for a few weeks, months, even years.

But it will eventually lead you to chronic stress and burnout.

The answer is to get in the zone, or “flow”.

Flow, as I have mentioned in previous blog posts, is a state where you feel and perform at your very best. Everything feels effortless.

The proven benefits of being in flow state are almost unbelievable.

  • 500% increase in productivity
  • 430% increase in creative problem solving
  • 490% faster skill acquisition

Get in the zone.

To recap, conscious effort through running harder, working longer, and moving faster will not create the productivity you want. In fact, it will increase cognitive load and result in chronic fatigue and burnout.

However, when you design your environment and behavior to make discipline and productivity easier, you will automate your effort in a focused direction, resulting in better performance and productivity.