How to Be More Productive in Work and Life: 8 Proven Ways

Many people look for ways to be more productive and effective in their work and life, especially when they feel overwhelmed. In this article, we will explain eight strategies that can help you improve the quality of your work and increase your worth manifolds. Let’s get started:

1. 2-List Strategy

This is a way to choose your goals wisely. Some people say it coming from Warren Buffett, who calls it the “2 List Method”.

This is how you do it:


Write 25 things you want to do (work, health, friends, etc.)

Think of 25 things you want to do in your life. They can be about different parts of your life, like what you want to do for work, how you want to be healthy, who you want to be friends with, how you want to grow as a person, or how much money you want to have.

Think big and brave. You can use this way for any time period, like 5 years, 1 year, or even 6 months. For this, it is suggested to set 1 year, this is long enough to do a lot, but short enough to keep you focused and motivated.


Look at your list of 25 things and pick the top 5 that are the most important for you. These should be things that, if you do them, would make your life much better.

Think about which things match your values and dreams. Picking these 5 things makes you choose and decide what matters most.

Now you have two lists:

List A (Picked)

These are your top 5 things. They are your main goals and should get most of your attention, time, and energy. These things are not just things to do; they are the foundations that will make the life you want in the next year.

List B (Not-picked)

This is where the way gets hard but good. The other 20 things on List B become your ‘Don’t Do’ list.

This may sound harsh, but it’s a key part of the way. The reason is that these things, while they may be nice, are not as important as your top 5 goals. They are the ‘good’ that you have to give up for the ‘great.’ List B can make you feel like you are doing a lot, but not really.

It will make you wonder why, even though you are so busy, you’re not getting closer to your goals.

2. 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle)

It states: 20% of our efforts produce 80% of the results.

The 80/20 Rule is true for almost everything in your life:

  • In business: 20% of your clients produce 80% of your revenue
  • In relationships: 20% of your friendships produce 80% of your happiness
  • In school: 20% of your studies produce 80% of your comprehension

The bad news is that you are probably spending most of your time on 80% (low-value), but the good news is that you can make each of these things better by paying more attention to this 20% (high-value).

3. 3-3-3 Method

Oliver Burkeman (best-selling author of Four Thousand Weeks) shared this technique in his newsletter. It’s called the 3-3-3 Method, here’s the breakdown:

·         Three Hours of Hard Work:

What to do: Spend three hours on the most important thing you have to do today.

How to do it: Make sure nothing bothers you or stops you. It’s about working hard and well on something that helps you reach your big goals.

What to aim for: Decide what you want to finish in these three hours. It should be something real that shows you are moving forward in your thing.

Example: Finishing a big part of a report for a customer, making a plan for a project, or preparing a talk for a meeting.

·         Three Quick Things:

What to do: Do three things that are fast but often forgotten or put off.

How important they are: These are usually things that must be done, but they don’t take a lot of time. They are often the things we delay doing.

How to manage your time: Give yourself a short, exact amount of time for each thing to make sure they are done quickly.

Example: Answering an important email in 10 minutes, paying your electricity bill online, or making a fast call about a meeting.

·         Three Daily Things:

What to do: Do three things every day that help your personal and work life run smoothly.

How to make them a habit: These things are part of your normal day and are important for keeping yourself organised and healthy.

How to balance your life: This part makes sure that while you work on important and urgent things, you don’t forget the daily things that make your life better.

Example: Washing your clothes, cleaning your work area for more productivity, and spending 15 minutes at night to arrange and plan your schedule for the next day.

4. 5-Minute Rule

The 5-Minute Rule is very easy: Do something you don’t want to do for just five minutes. That’s all, Just five minutes, then you can stop.

The magic happens after those 5-minutes are over. The timer rings, and you suddenly feel less scared of the thing you have to do. A new feeling comes instead—happiness. You’ve finally started, things are moving—why would you stop now?

The 5-Minute Rule helps you stop putting things off for a few reasons:

  • It makes the thing so simple you would feel silly for not doing it.
  • It makes you split the thing into a small 5-minute step.
  • Following the rules of physics, a thing that moves keeps moving; once you start a thing, the first difficulty often goes away, and it’s easier to continue.
  • It changes you from a person who runs away to a person who does things, even if they are small things.
  • The 5-Minute Rule shows you a basic truth about getting things done, starting is often the hardest part.

By making the thing appear easy, you trick your brain into not feeling the pain of starting and suddenly putting things off stops controlling your life.

5. Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law aims at achieving faster results from a task, you are working, and find enough time for the execution. Here’s how you can do it faster:

Make your Deadlines Shorter: If you have a lot of time to do something, make it less:

  • Say you will offer a party if you are late,
  • Announce publicly, what you are doing,
  • Make a friend pretend to be a client who needs things quickly,
  • Make yourself lose something if you are not done by due time.

Make Small Deadlines: Cut a big job into small parts and make a deadline for each part. This will help you know how long the whole job will take.

Use Timers: Use a timer for any job you want to do faster. This will make you feel like you have to hurry and give you a clear idea of how long you have.

Don’t forget, the point is to make yourself work faster, not to induce panic.

6. 10-3-2-1 Technique

The 10-3-2-1 Technique is a good way to sleep better. Let’s see how it works:

·         10 Hours Before Bed: Stop Taking Coffee

Coffee makes it hard to sleep, but it stays in your body for up to 10 hours. Don’t drink coffee after noon if you want to sleep well at night.

·         3 Hours Before Bed: Stop Eating (or Drinking)

Eating takes a lot of energy from your body. It can stop your body from sleeping well. Don’t eat anything 3 hours before bed, and if you urinate a lot, don’t drink anything either.

·         2 Hours Before Bed: Stop Working

You can’t stop a fast car in a second, but that’s what you’re doing to your brain when you work until bedtime. Your brain needs some time to relax and calm down.

·         1 Hour Before Bed: Stop Using Screens

You probably knew this already, the smart phone is the worst thing for our sleep. Don’t use screens in your bedroom if you want to sleep better.

7. 3-21-0 Email Method

The 3-21-0 Method is a smart way to deal with email stuffing. It was developed by Kevin Kruse (author of ‘Great Leaders Have No Rules’). It has three steps:

  • Check your emails 3 times a day.
  • Use only 21 minutes for each session you check your emails.
  • Try to finish all your emails and have nothing left in your inbox.

This method helps you keep your inbox clean and your mind focused.  3-21-0 method helps you save time for important work. By doing your emails in groups and quickly, you don’t get distracted by new emails when you are working on something else.

7. Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix helps you sort your tasks into four quadrants:

·         Quadrant 1: Do it Now (Urgent and Important)

Example: You have a big project due soon and you still have a lot to do. This is a Quadrant 1 task. Make time for it right away. The goal here is to deal with problems and finish things on time.

·         Quadrant 2: Plan to Do it (Important but Not Urgent)

Example: You want to learn new skills for your job through an online course. This task is good for your future but it doesn’t have a deadline, so it goes in Quadrant 2. Set aside some time every week to work on it.

·         Quadrant 3: Delegate It (Urgent but Not Important)

Example: You get emails asking for information that someone else on your team can give. These are Quadrant 3 tasks. They need a quick response but they don’t help you reach your goals. Ask someone else to do them if you can.

·         Quadrant 4: Eliminate It (Neither Urgent nor Important)

Example: You waste time on social media when you should be working. These are Quadrant 4 tasks. They don’t matter and they don’t have a deadline. Stop doing them or limit them as much as you can. Use the time you save for tasks in Quadrant 1 or 2.

8. 18-Minute Plan

The 18-Minute Plan has three parts:

·         Morning Planning (5 minutes)

Start your day by looking at your goals and making a plan. Think about what you need to do to make the day good. Do the most important and urgent tasks first, and know what you want to achieve.

·         Hourly Refocus (1 minute every hour)

Set a timer for one minute every hour. In that minute, stop and ask yourself if you used the last hour well and if you are doing what you planned. This part helps you fix your mistakes and get back on track.

·         Evening Review (5 minutes)

At the end of your day, take another five minutes to think about what you did. See how much you moved towards your goals, and be happy about what you did well and honest about what you did poorly. Use what you learned to make your plan better and decide what to do next.

The 18-Minute Plan works well because it is simple and keeps you focused. The morning planning helps you know what to do, the hourly check-ins help you stay on track, and the evening review helps you improve.

Now, when you have elegantly simple yet powerful strategies to uplift the quality of your work and life, apply these and achieve 10x productivity in merely few days. Good Luck!

Disclosure: The above strategies have been extracted from Ali Abdaal‘s “Daily Productivity” email series.

Refer Related Content:

  1. How to Increase Confidence & Self-Esteem-A 5 Step Formula
  2. How to Delegate Tasks as a Leader
  3. 14 Essential Traits of a Great Leader and How to Develop Them
  4. 5 Most Effective Time Management Strategies to Enhance Personal Productivity

Refer Related Book Summaries:

  1. Solving the Procrastination Puzzle
  2. The Slight Edge
  3. The One Thing
  4. Atomic Habits
  5. The Compound Effect
  6. Creating Communication
  7. How to Talk to Anyone

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