Most of the Productivity Advice Is Useless

unless you filter it through your own standards.

Productivity advice is not universal

Personal development advice can be great, but it can also be useless — or even downright harmful. That depends on whether you are able to filter it through the lens of your own standards and individual conditioning.

“Knowing thyself” should be the entry-level productivity class

All too often, we put too much trust in other people with regard to our own well-being. We assume that a guy who published a book or two on personal development will know better than us what we need. As a result, we end up running to various mentors and gurus for advice before we can even recognize our own basic needs.

All these things give you precious clues as to where in your current life there is space for “optimization” — and which areas demand nothing more than loving maintenance.

To be able to see the clues, it requires you to do a certain amount of intentional inner work. This can happen in various forms.

How I do things differently these days

The way I look at my growth today can be summed up as: “inner first, outer later.”

1. I usually wake up somewhere between 6 and 6:30 am.

No matter the time, I make it a point not to stress that I got up “too late.” The priority is to get enough sleep anyway, so if I went to bed later the previous day, I would sleep until 7, or even 8. I also don’t jump out of bed immediately after opening my eyes. While still lying down, I take a few minutes to stretch, take a few deep breaths, smile and consciously feel gratitude for the good night’s sleep and the day ahead.

2. After getting out of bed and washing my face, I take 5–7 minutes to do a short yoga practice.

The point is not to get a full workout before I do anything else. My main intention is to be gentle with myself, but also help my body awaken fully. A few energetic asanas make my blood circulate a bit faster, which also boosts mental clarity before my meditation.

3. After the yoga practice I dress and I sit to meditate for 40 minutes.

This is the priority activity during my morning, and I make some real effort to make the practice as focused and deliberate as possible on the given day. I refuse, however, to stress out if the meditation isn’t going perfectly. For example, sometimes it happens that I absolutely must go to the toilet during the practice — and I do. I try not to be a perfectionist about that but relax into the meditation instead.

4. When my meditation session is over, I jot a few sentences down in my journal.

I also keep it as free as I can. If I feel like writing a lot that day — I do. If I don’t have anything to say, I may leave it at literally two lines — and that’s also fine.

5. Then I proceed to prepare my breakfast and coffee — the biggest indulgence of the morning.

I take my time. When the food is ready, I sit in a quiet place where no one will bother me — recently, it’s often been the garden. I know the benefits of mindful eating, but I absolutely love and find a lot of comfort in reading as I eat my breakfast. So that’s what I do. My morning reads are usually light ones — for example, articles on Medium — so they can provide a maximum amount of pleasure. I give myself ample time to indulge in this morning ritual. My breakfast, coffee, and morning reading may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

After that, I usually can’t wait to get to writing. So I do.

Written by

What if you stopped treating your ego as the enemy and befriended it instead? To find out, read my new book, Ego-Friendly:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store