How to Stop Procrastinating, Get More Done, AND Reduce Stress
*Hi, my name is Ben. And I’m a recovering workaholic.
Hi everyone. Thanks for that warm welcome.
You want to get more done in your life or you wouldn’t have clicked on this article.
Fair warning: This not a post about becoming a robot or someone who never leaves the house just to send more emails.
My vision for you is to have a full, peaceful, extraordinary life that includes doing what you love, financial prosperity, time with family and friends, physical health, and so much more.
You want all of those things, too? Ok, great. (Bee tee dubs, you can download the free Annual Planning Blueprint by filling in your name/email on the homepage of my website that I’ve used for the last decade to make sure I’m progressing in all domains of my life.)
So how the hell do we do that?
My Personal Productivity Journey
I crushed high school and college. Valedictorian in HS, summa cum laude with a double major and a minor in college, blah blah blah. Part of why I was so successful is that my entire life was structured. All I had to do was keep showing up and do good work once I got there. Every day: class, student groups, rehearsal, then homework. Lather, rinse, repeat.
When I graduated college I went from 100% structure to 0% structure and boy was that a shock to the system.
In the following years I discovered that in order to start multiple companies and have any semblance of a social life I needed to create structure for myself. I also learned that for that structure to be effective it needed to be anchored in vision.
The Importance of Vision
If you don’t know what you want, it’s going to be very difficult to get it. Crazy thought, I know. I’m a rebel.
What’s the point of productivity if it’s not driving you towards the outcomes you actually care about?
It is imperative that you get clear on your broad vision as well as specific goals for all areas of your life. (The first couple pages of my aforementioned Annual Planning Blueprint goes over this in greater detail.)
Having a System
In his seminal book on productivity Getting Things Done, David Allen solidifies much of what modern-day productivity is based on. Honestly, it’s a very dry read, but I highly recommend his TED talk, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
What David so eloquently highlights is that our brains are fabulous at having ideas, but terrible at storing them.
Furthermore, the science is clear: willpower is finite and there are still only 24 hours in a day. It is extremely unlikely that you will simply muscle your way to more productivity—if that worked wouldn’t you have done it already?
So what does work? Systems.
Productivity systems are what create structure for us. They are a way to get all the thoughts out of our heads. and nudge us to do the planning and breaking down of our projects. This reduces resistance, decreases the willpower needed to get things done, and supports in limiting procrastination.
Amazing Marvin – My System
I recommend trying different methods to see what works for you. Warning: It’s easy to get seduced into always looking for a better tool, rather than actually using the one you’ve chosen.
That said, some tools are better than others and I’ve tried them all—Google Tasks, Nozbe, Trello, Things, Clear, OmniFocus, Clear, Wunderlist, Todoist, Asana, Apple Reminders, Evernote, scraps of paper—the list goes on but you get the idea.
I recently discovered AmazingMarvin and the thing I love about it the most is how seamlessly it integrates nearly all of the research on strategies, work flows, and methods to actually help you be productive.
In the past, I have struggled because the programs I used were either way too complicated or way too simple. It felt like I needed an entire training program to understand how to actually set up and use the program, or I was lacking the details I needed in the app to do my work.
AmazingMarvin is one of the more intuitive programs I’ve encountered. Beyond that, it integrates literally dozens strategies that have been proven to support productivity, while not forcing you to apply any of them.
Will AmazingMarvin Work for Me?
You’re a unique snow flake, I get it. As a business/mindset coach I’ve worked with hundreds of people, and have seen first hand the myriad personality types when it comes to personal productivity.
Some of you want to be incredibly detailed, others want more of a high-level overview. Some need to see tasks visually and others most need to block off chunks of time. Some are fighting procrastination tendencies, while others struggle to figure out what to actually spend time on. And I’m guessing most of you experience overwhelm at times.
Honestly, until AmazingMarvin I recommended different programs for different people. But now, no matter your style there’s a layout for you. Download the free trial and check out the “Strategies” section to see what I’m talking about. Obvi, you can also check out a general overview of AM on their website. Their YouTube channel has some great videos as well.
Even if you decide not to use AmazingMarvin I highly recommend reading the best practices page on their blog. It’s a wonderful overview of using a productivity system and planning your perfect day.
Productivity Like a Pro: How to Get the Most Out of AmazingMarvin
Have you ever felt like you keep doing more and more but are somehow increasingly stressed out? ::cough:: Yeah, uhh. Me neither. But for those of you who do, I can’t stress (see what I did there?) enough the importance of getting $hit out of your head and into a system. You brain spends so much time in the background of your day thinking about all the things you need to do…unless you put them into a system.
One of the most helpful things about the app is that it’s structured to remind and support me in breaking down my larger projects into actual next steps. Invariably, every time I do that my stress levels plummet and I’m dramatically more productive.
I love the weekly reminders AmazingMarvin automatically creates to review my week. It’s so easy to get sucked into life and never step back to make sure what I’m doing is actually moving me towards my goals.
Honestly, by default I’m not a great planner. I’d rather just fly by the seat of my pants and take each day as it comes. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to create sustainable high levels of success that way, which is why I’ve worked on mastering all the things in this post. Without fail, every time I prioritize utilizing the planning features in AmazingMarvin to pick the most important aspects of my day, week, and month my effectiveness skyrockets.
Bonus Productivity Hacks
Two other things have dramatically supported my productivity this year.
1) Time Timer
Setting specific blocks of time with forced breaks (often referred to as the Pomodoro Technique in productivity circles) has been proven to dramatically increase productivity.
As such, using a timer is an epic productivity hack. That said, using the timer on my phone often leads to distraction (going down the Instagram rabbit hole, anyone?). The timer built in to AmazingMarvin is great, but sometimes I want to go old school and have fallen in love with my Time Timer.
The visual count-down is just enough to let my brain relax and stay in a flow state while working. Plus it looks sexy.
2) Cave Day
Hands down, THE most productive I ever am is during a Cave Day. Essentially, Cave Day is a facilitated work day of deep work without distractions. Plus they provide coffee, snacks, and lunch. Come on. The in-person Cave Days are my favorite (they have them in LA and NY). The remote caves are also very supportive, and can be done from anywhere in the world. It’s also insanely affordable.
Spoiler alert: we’re all going to die. I know, intense. I’ll let you recover from your shock. deep breath. Okay, welcome back.
Knowing that we will all shuffle off this mortal coil, what are you going to do with the live you do have? My vision is that you are massively productive such that you make the biggest difference in the lives of others, spread as much love as possible, and leave a legacy.
Remember, you have the same hours in a day as any of your heroes (I see you, Beyoncé). Their success is proof that it’s possible.
So go be productive af and make the world a better place.