The 2nd Best Personal Productivity Cheat 3

To understand the 2nd best personal productivity cheat, you have to understand the first one.

And yes, I realize that highlighting the 2nd productivity cheat first seems wrong. But you’ll understand in a moment.

The best personal productivity cheat is to measure. Measure your productivity and compare it against the different cheats you implement. Measure your productivity on Monday and compare it against Friday.

Measure. Measure. Measure.

Truly, measuring is the most important tool in any endeavor that requires change. It’s part of the scientific method:

Scientific Method

– Define the question
– Gather information and resources (observe)
– Form hypothesis
– Perform experiment and collect data
– Analyze data
– Interpret data
and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
– Publish results
– Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

For copywriting, I might measure how long it takes me to start on my first project after I wake.

Or I might measure how many planned tasks I finish each day.

Or I might measure… it doesn’t really matter. As Tim Ferris points out in The Four Hour Body, even measuring the wrong things can produce positive results as long as it’s consistent.

For example, measuring how many tasks I finish each day may not be too accurate if my tasks very wildly in the length of time they take to complete. And they do. But overtime, and as the tasks begin to repeat themselves, this noise can be cancelled out. (It can also be cancelled out with reason (and hopefully not rationalizing)).

So again, what’s the number one productivity cheat? Measure every attempt to improve productivity.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

What’s the number TWO best productivity cheat?

A new one.

For some psychological reason that’s probably not too hard to figure out, new productivity cheats seem to work best. And work best when you MEASURE them.

Maybe it’s because the cheat is new and exciting. Maybe it’s because it’s a change of pace or scenery. Maybe it’s because you’re curious to find out the results of your new, exciting cheat.

Regardless, new productivity cheats tend to do the most for your productivity.

If you have a productivity tip that might be new for my readers, please share it in a comment below.

3 thoughts on “The 2nd Best Personal Productivity Cheat

  1. Reply Ryan Healy Jan 27, 2011 3:12 pm

    Great post, Stephen. I recently started using, which measures online productivity. It’s also new to me, so complies with both your #1 and #2 productivity rules.

  2. Reply Stephen Dean Jan 27, 2011 7:01 pm

    Thanks Ryan. I’ve used RescueTime before, it’s great at putting your productivity/waste right in front of your face. And that’s very helpful.

    In the 4 Hour Body Tim says one of the most effective ways people can cut back on their poor diet habits is to take a picture of each meal before you eat it.

    Harder to cheat when you gotta commit it to evidence first 🙂

  3. Reply JOHN Feb 1, 2011 9:16 pm

    Thanks Stephen – I find that when ever I have a ‘trusty stop watch’ and give my self deadlines for things I unleash my ‘inner productivity demon’

    Hey, got connected to this site via Claytons site (you commented on his ‘farewell’.)

    Be good to stay in touch – I am a direct response copywriter/marketer from Aussie.

    Feel free to shoot me an email sometime to say ‘G’day’ (Aussie for ‘hi’)

    Anyway, great blog, heaps of useful content.


    P.S If you’re wondering – should I contact this guy? W.I.F.M??? 😉

    Well, I am a good coypwriter…even got a testimonial from the worlds best copywriter on my site!

    So maybe I can help you with mutual copy crits or something.

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