The Science of Productivity


science of productivity

I was recently pointed out to a video online called the Science of Productivity, it’s all about time management and will power. Basically – our ability to get things done.  I thought it would be especially relevant of me to write about this as I have been away from the blog for an extended period shall we say, well longer than usual.

So – what have I been doing?

Well, firstly a most of you know this is only a part-time venture for me, so my time is very precious when it comes to blogging and my online ventures in general. I have been creating a new product and I decided to focus all my time and energy into producing this. Between writing sales pages, content, setting up payment processors, vendors, and all the other bits that go with it I have not had much time left to write! Anyway, it is in the tweaking stage now so I can take a short break to write this.

This leads nicely into what we are going to discuss here – the Science of Productivity.

We are all faced with completing tasks in our everyday lives and working lives, some simple, some a bit more complex and time consuming. We have discussed tools for time management here on the blog before. This has a slightly different approach.

Get Started

The first step and arguably the most important is to get started, write the first few sentences down of the blog post you have been putting off for ages, post an oDesk job in the software section then see what the response is, record the first part of your video how to series – whatever it is, get started.

I see and hear so many people blame the fact that they have no time to do stuff online. Most often people make this complaint because they are looking at the big picture.

Take my scenario for example – I have two kids, work a full-time day job and am studying my final year of an HNC. Yet, I also own a few niche websites, have a nice steady thousand subscribers to this blog and am about to launch my second product online.

Sure, I am not making $10,000 a month like the big players, but I have only been writing for ten months.

What is the key to my productivity?

Simple – breaking things down. Whenever I do anything related to my online or offline work, projects etc I break them down. Setting S.M.A.R.T goals for example are a great way to feel good about yourself.


These are small bite-sized chunks of work that can be achieved in a relatively short space of time.

I do this all the time, this way even if I only have 1 or 2 hours free in an evening I can still complete some tasks.

We tend to lose focus by thinking we are working by spending time on Facebook, Twitter – opening emails etc. Whilst this is important, it is not real work. Take this post for example, the only thing I have open in front of me is Word.

All social media accounts and my email client are closed.

The Zeigarnik Effect

Going back to the first point about getting started, people generally experience something called the Zeigarnik effect. This is our minds way of telling us to finish something that we have already started. If you are anything like me, I am terrible for this – it’s not a bad thing, I cannot stand having things left unfinished, but remember the bite-sized chunks rule. This will make you finish each task easier.

Take Breaks

According to psychologists, the Zeigarnik effect also suggests that people who take regular breaks to do things completely unrelated tend to grasp a better overall understanding than people who go at it full pelt with no breaks.

I break my sessions into 60 minute slots. Usually in the evenings, if I am feeling fresh I may do two or three but I have at least a twenty minute break in between and completely remove myself from it.

This video was shown to me by a colleague at work – we run all our projects following the principles outlined here.  Really useful video – please check it out, its only 3 minutes.

So, remember to focus.

And that huge project you have been putting off – get started on it. It may not be as bad as you think.

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  1. That’s interesting, John!

    I always love reading articles which relate our daily activities with psychology or science. Because, they sound real and we can have an explanation for everything.

    I liked the Zeigarnik effect, you wrote about. The video, too, is a great one.

    Yes, we should focus on what we do and not, the other things. That is how one can be productive enough.
    Koundeenya recently posted..Content Marketing 101 – Everything About Content MarketingMy Profile

  2. Hey John,

    Thanks for sharing this helpful post. I totally agree about what you’ve said. We should try to concentrate with easy task first rather than taking all the task at once. It’s more easy to concentrate on big problems if the small problems are solve first. Focus is the key for success and distractions should be repelled so that everything will run smooth and easy. The video is also informative and helpful. Nice post.
    Farrell John Conejos recently posted..One Piece Vs ZombiesMy Profile

    • Hi Farrell,

      Breaking each project or task down will help. I do this all the time, whether it be blog posts, decorating a room or building websites.

      Thanks for dropping by and adding value with your comments!

  3. Morning John, great post and thank you for sharing a great video. I believe most of my issues come from trying to multi task and not breaking up jobs. It all makes perfect sense to me, I just need to create these habits.

    Trying to multi task is in reality not getting things done but fooling yourself into thinking you are doing more and getting plenty of stuff done. It doesn’t happen. You should do one job too completion, if that isn’t possible then minimalise your multi tasking to only those few jobs that need to be done at the same time period, ie write a book and the odd blog post/newsletter with sharing.

    Doing things in bite sized chunks with breaks which are written down so they can be crossed off really does help.

    I need to close down the social media otherwise I get easily distracted. At nights I work in the lounge with the TV on and fortunately my missus keeps an eye on my social media interactions when I am working so she soon shouts at me to get on lol. It does help!
    Andi Leeman recently posted..The Psychology of Affiliate MarketingMy Profile

    • Hi Andi,

      I thought this post was appropriate after being away for a few days….

      Glad you enjoyed the post – and its good that the missus keeps you in check, Jesus – God helps us if she didn’t!


  4. Nice post John and I agree with you on a lot of things. I think I have a habit of being on social media too much, when I should be focusing on other areas of work.

    This post has just made me close everything down and get on with some real work.
    Robert Walker recently posted..YieldWord 2 Is HereMy Profile

  5. Wow John, you’ve only been online for ten months and have accomplished all of this! I’m so impressed.

    No agree with being productive. I do the 50 minutes on and 10 min. breaks. I also have written out what I need to do for the day so I don’t spend my time on mindless tasks. I hear people tell me all the time that they don’t have the time yet when I ask them what they are doing I find out it’s not the tasks they should be doing. Dah!

    Loved the video so thanks for sharing that one.

    Enjoy your weekend.


    • Hi Adrienne – always great to have you here!

      Thanks for your kind words. Glad you can relate to what is said here, you seem like you have an excellent structure with your days. And yes me too – its amazing what people think they do in there lives which makes them “busy”!


  6. No idea why I missed this John.

    Thought this was really interesting. Haven’t heard of the Zeigarnik effect before, but I definitely feel it when I fail to finish a task.

    I find the biggest problem to my working day is social media. It’s kind of awkward in that I need to be on it for my site, but at the same time it can be incredibly distracting at times. I sometimes find that I work better in the evenings or at the weekend when I just turn it off.

    Looking forward to your product release. Let us know when you are going to launch it and I’ll be happy to help promote it for you.
    Matt Smith recently posted..Why You Should Use Captivating Blog Titles & Why Bloggers Love ThemMy Profile

  7. Yes John I can really resonate with this post.

    I have a TERRIBLE habit of getting side tracked, I think this video and post is going to help keep me on the straight and narrow.

    Social Media is a HUGE distraction in my daily life at the same time as being a huge part of my work (if that EVEN makes sense) I’ve had to get tougher and allow myself an hour of SM surfing a day and when i’m using it for work I’m only allowed one network open and working on one account ….. Im trying to get myself to FOCUS 😉

    Great post, can’t wait to start sharing your new product!

    Clair Trebes recently posted..Using LinkedIn Groups EffectivelyMy Profile

    • Wow – I bet you find only one hour of Social Media a day hard! Given your profession!

      Thanks for coming along Clair – always welcome and your comments are always appreciated.

  8. I’ve just finished reading this, it was an excellent read!
    I totally agree with you. Focus is essential if you want to get things done.
    I usually find it hard to start something, and I never knew that it is the most difficult barrier to surpass. Nevertheless once I’m “in the zone” i give it my all.
    Inspiring movie, and great post.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Anna Robeson recently posted..Australia Eliminates Age Cut-Off from Disability Insurance Scheme Draft LawMy Profile

    • Hi Anna, thanks for dropping by. Glad you appreciated the post.

      I think between the two of us with your post over on TimsMinions we covered all bases with this…..


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