Being More Productive
Guest post by Brian Rashid, J.D., Motivational Speaker and Coach

Buddha was one of the most brilliant marketers our world has ever seen.

Why? Because his messaging sounded something like this.

“Don’t believe a word I tell you. This is what works for me. Try it for yourself and see what works.”

People always write or call me and ask how to be more productive. Productivity is a tricky thing, mostly because everyone’s lives are different. I embrace my inner Buddha every time I get this question (and every question for that matter). Here is what works for me. Here are my productivity tricks.

NO TV. Ever. The average American watches around 4 hours of TV a DAY. I could not believe this, but it is true. I have not owned a TV in nearly a decade. That means in the last 10 years, I have saved around 14,000 hours of life, or 608 days. That means I had 608 more days (full, 24 hour days) of productivity than the average American. That’s almost 2 extra years of life in the last decade. If I live another 50 years, I will gain an additional 10 years of life and productivity because I never watch TV. Although, I am hoping that our life spans are doubled by the time I am 80. It’s possible. People are working on this.

Sleep 8 hours a night. I know, I know, everyone tells you this. But it is important. There is neuroscience that shows what happens to your brain after 8 hours of sleep. The neurons are firing more rapidly. Which means you can think more clearly and creatively. The body and mind are a machine. A machine needs a break. It needs to restore itself. It needs to refuel. Sleep is key. Right now, there is a lot of what I call “Sleep Porn” out there. Everyone is walking around bragging “I only need 4 hours of sleep a night.” One of two things is happening. One, they are lying. That’s a sad lie. No one thinks you are more powerful if you don’t need sleep. Two, they are in fact sleeping 4 hours a night and their body has adjusted. In this case, the mind is functioning at a much lower level than it could with more rest. Here is the sad part of this scenario. The person bragging about not “needing” more than 4 hours of sleep a night has no clue they are operating way below their capacity. They actually believe they are firing. They are not. Their body and mind has adjusted. It has decreased its capacity to think and create and this is the new “normal.” And they are going to crash and burn. Eventually they will be sleeping much longer than all of us, much faster. Probably sooner rather than later. You don’t want to crash and burn. You don’t even want to get sick, which is another important point. Nothing slows your productivity more than being sick. When was the last time you woke up feeling like crap, jumped out of bed and said, “I can’t wait to create today!!!!” I can’t think of a single instance. But you will rarely get sick if you can sleep 8 hours a night. Sweet dreams tonight equals productive day tomorrow.

No more crappy people. Get rid of them. I know this sounds harsh. Get rid of them. Take a monthly inventory of who are the 5 people you spend most of your time with. I believe in the mantra, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time around.” Write down their names and then have an honest conversation with yourself. Do I want to be like them? As cliche as this sounds, if you can surround yourself and spend time with people that inspire you, you will be more productive. It is almost like you want to impress them. That’s ok. That’s why you have them in your life. We all want approval in some way. May as well make it a positive reality. I once had a “good friend.” I spent a ton of time with her. Then she asked me to commit tax fraud for her. She put me through an immense amount of stress. I got sick. I consulted numerous attorneys and business owners (which took hours of my life I will never get back) to see if I was overreacting. They all told me to say, “NO” asap. So I did. I said, “NO” and she wrote me a series of hateful emails. It hurt me. I wrote back every time (like a fool). This chain went on for weeks (weeks that I will also never get back). My blood boiled. I got sick again. Until one day I decided to stop. I don’t speak to her anymore. She was a good friend for years, but she was no longer someone I wanted to be like. It is hard. It hurts. At the end of the day, it is worth it. There are many great people in the world. People that won’t ask you to commit crimes and then write you mean emails afterwards when you said, “NO.” Say, “No” to people who ask you to commit crimes. You will meet new people. Ones that don’t want you in jail. Hang out with them.

Be bullish about the things that matter to you. One of Gandhi’s financial backers once said, “It’s very expensive to keep Gandhi in poverty.” Perhaps Gandhi’s financial backers felt they had some influence on Gandhi. I don’t know Gandhi personally, but I’d guess money means nothing to a spiritual leader. One day, Gandhi said to a group of his backers, “I need to set aside one hour a day to do meditation.” One of the backers said, “Oh no, you can’t do that! You are too busy, Gandhi!”

Gandhi said, “Well, then, I now need to set aside two hours a day to do meditation.”

Gandhi understood a key to productivity is staying true to what is important to you. For Gandhi, it was meditation. He needed silence to create. He was changing a nation. He needed to be productive. He would not be told he was too busy. He wanted to be the change he would see in the world. So do I. So do you. It takes time. It takes productivity. It takes practice. These are the things that work for me.

But be like Buddha. Don’t believe me.

See what works for you.

Brian Rashid is a TED speaker, public speaking coach, and high-performance trainer. He works with Executives from companies like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Jawbone, Salesforce and others to help them with communications coaching, branding, and innovation. He speaks at companies, organizations, and universities across the country on the topics of entrepreneurship, lifestyle design and how to make money in the new economy doing what you love.

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