15 Quick Fixes to Improve Your Productivity

Staying productive all the time can be a challenge. Even if you’re very diligent with your work and super organized, you will still find moments when you’re not satisfied with what you’ve accomplished, or simply hit a slump.

There are many self-help books out there, but here are 20 quick and simple things you can do right now to get yourself back on track.

1. Write a to-do list
Go old-fashioned and get out a pen and paper and scribble down what you need to do for the day and week. Visualizing the tasks in front of you can help you understand how to tackle them.

write-to-do-list-productivityPhoto thanks to Sameer Vasta

2. Break small tasks into smaller tasks
By reducing what you need to do into smaller actionable points, it can help to reduce the feeling of being over-whelmed. For example, rather than “finish presentation” it can broken apart into:

  • Revisit research notes.
  • Finish section one by noon.
  • Complete section two by 18:00 today.
  • Spend two hours looking for visuals.

Break-up-your-tasks-into-smaller-tasksPhoto thanks to Dennis Hamilton

3. Be realistic with your time
We sometimes take on more than what we can handle. It’s always better to under-estimate your available time than to over-estimate. Even if you think you can finish something on time, give yourself a full day buffer for unexpected incidents.

4. Clean out your desk
You would be surprised how a clean desk can make such a big difference. Optimize your work desk so you can jump straight into tasks, rather than spending time hooking up laptops, finding stationeries or looking for a particular document.

clean-out-your-workspace-to-improve-productivityPhoto thanks to Brice Reul

5. Learn to delegate
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and learn to slowly trust someone with your work.

6. Turn off all distraction
Put your mobile on airplane mode and unplug the phone if you have to. Eliminate anything that could be a distraction so you can stay focused for long periods of time.

7. Be accountable
If you work in a team, let someone know what you need to complete so they can hold you accountable and put a bit of pressure on you to complete the work on time.

8. Take regular breaks
It’s been confirmed by scientists and doctors how taking regular short breaks between our work can help us to reset our brain and feel more productive afterwards. If you’re stuck on an idea, walk away and enjoy a cup of coffee, some fresh air or a chat with someone. You would come back to the idea with a fresh approach.

remain-accountable-to-be-productivePhoto thanks to Waleed Alzuhair

9. Log out of social media
It’s always tempting to go on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to “have a quick check” and soon this short break becomes 30 minutes, an hour and then a few hours. If you don’t need the Internet to complete your task, then disconnect from it.

10. Avoid unnecessary meetings
If you have the choice, try to have as few meetings as possible. Always clarify what the meeting is about beforehand and decide if it’s something that can be resolved over e-mail or a quick phone call.

11. Learn to say no
The hardest thing for a lot of people is to say ‘no.’ In the end, you take on way too much projects and quickly burn out. You end up not giving 100% on the tasks — would you rather work on two things and have them 100% finished, or five things and none of them are completed on time?

learn-to-say-no-to-be-productivePhoto thanks to Maria Guimarães

12. Have a purpose
It’s good to have actions to do and items to tick off your to-do list. You must know though why you are doing each of them. Goals come before tasks. If you don’t have a destination in mind, you can walk as long as you want, you’ll never get there.

13. One thing at a time
Do things by batches, 20 to 45 minutes each. If you need more time, have several batches with some downtime in between. In each of the batch, focus on one single activity and resist the temptation of doing anything else. This method is know as the Pomodoro technique. Feel free to customize it to your needs. Your efficiency level will go the the roof!

improve-productivity-one-thing-at-a-timePhoto thanks to MayEve

14. Turn the music on
Music can make repetitive tasks easier. It also helps you create a productivity bubble for yourself in a noisy environment.

15. Reward yourself
When you set yourself a goal, also set yourself a reward. Celebrate the small triumphs with a nice meal, or maybe a night out at the movies. Thinking about what you would do once the tasks is done can be a motivator when you’ve hit a wall.

reward-yourself-and-celebrate-small-triumphsPhoto thanks to Makena Zayle


5 Simple Rules of Goal Setting

I was looking at my goalmap dashboard the other day and counted that I have 56 ongoing goals – ranging from having a solid eight-hour sleep per night to learning Russian. So why is it important for me to set goals?

For about half of my life – I’m 35 if you want to do the math, I’ve been setting goals. Probably because as a teenager, I wanted to make sure that I would one day become the adult I want to be. It’s still a long way to go but that’s ok, I feel like I’m on the right track and getting there step by step. Goal setting for me is like drawing those steps, mapping how you will reach your dreams.

I won’t pretend that I have a secret formula that will transform you into Superman overnight. Still, I’ve tried multiple techniques over time and refined the way I approach goals. Let me try to share with you some straightforward advice that I have learned through trial and error. I would encourage you to apply these techniques if you are in the process of setting objectives for yourself and redesigning your life.


1. Listen to your heart

Setting goals is often described as a very rational process. True, it needs to be rigorous and well-defined, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Emotions come first. There is no point in pursuing a goal which doesn’t truly move you. Your goals need to inspire you; they need to come from your gut. Make sure they are indeed YOUR goals, not things you believe you have to achieve because your parents told you so or because of peer pressure that pushes us to internalize socially valued objectives.

Be genuine. Have a serious conversation with yourself. Your goals should be a reflection of your identity. They must be deeply rooted in your personal values and the things you believe in. Aiming to have a Porsche because your neighbor has one isn’t a goal that will induce sustainable satisfaction and lasting happiness. Go with your instinct, follow your inner will. If you do so, you will identify goals that will make you grow as an individual as you set yourself to reach them.

2. Dream realistically

It looks like we have an oxymoron here! That’s all right, don’t freak out, and let me try to explain. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t dream big. On the contrary, if your goal is too easily reached, you’ll forget about it, it will fail to truly mobilize you and create a necessary sense of urgency. On the other hand, if you’re too aggressive setting your goals, you may feel overwhelmed by the difficulty and get paralyzed before making the first step. You might feel frustrated with the progress and give up too quickly.

The immediate task needs to match your current ability. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it the flow channel.


Get out of your comfort zone, but not too much. You won’t get stressed and you won’t get bored either. You will feel slightly challenged and excited by the task at hand and, as you succeed in performing it, both of your skills and your self-confidence level will increase. Then you can aim higher, your ability will increase a level, and so on. The flow channel is a virtuous circle!

It’s also fine to dream big. It’s perfectly ok to want to IPO your startup or complete an Ironman triathlon, but if you’re currently out of shape, give yourself some time before the Ironman (one year or two if you start from scratch) and introduce intermediate goals like running a 5k race or being able to swim 20 laps!

So yes, dream big but smart, taking into account where you want to go while not forgetting where you currently stand. Give yourself the time you need, set gradual and evolving targets, and define milestones if possible.


3. Quantify your goal


We talked about the emotional trigger of goals-setting earlier. Let’s now have a look at the rational side of goals. Once your goal is out there, you know already why you’re pursuing it. It’s time to flesh it out: What is it exactly that you want to achieve? When and how much? You have to be precise and define targets with a clear object, quantity, and timing.

Let’s take a simple example. Let’s say music is important to you and you want to set a goal to play guitar. Well, what does that exactly mean to you? Eliminate any vagueness. For me, playing guitar is practicing at least three hours per week on average, taking 15 lessons by year-end to kick-start the effort and being able to play Parisienne Walkways by Gary Moore. Now we’re talking!

You can’t leave room for interpretation. Your criteria for success need to be observable and clearly laid out. With target quantities and target dates, you set the standard and introduce accountability. Your goal is on a roll!

4. Follow through

Remember those New Year’s resolutions you got excited about for a week and then forgotten by the end of January? To achieve goals, you need to hit the ground running. There is a time for reflection, then there’s a time for action. When it’s action time, don’t think too much, it’s all about doing and building habits. Go for it! Nothing great comes without effort.


You may wonder why we’re talking about action in a post about goal-setting. A goal properly set is a goal that you act upon because you really want it (Rule number 1), you can do it (Rule number 2) and have a plan of action for it (Rule number 3). Planning comes before action but in the end they are intricately and dynamically related. Without action, there is no need for a plan.

Not only should you follow through, but also track your actions. It will boost your self-awareness and help you redesign your behavior as you internalize new habits and their positive consequences. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that people who rigorously logged what they ate lost twice as much weight as their peers.

Track, measure, and make yourself ultimately accountable. If you don’t, who else will? It’s your life after all.

5. Reset your goals regularly

You won’t always get it right the first time. Even if you do, the right target for a goal will change as you evolve over time. You should reassess your goals on a regular basis — every three to six months is probably right in most cases. This is the second benefit of self-tracking. It enhances self-awareness and it also helps you measure actual performance against the objective you had set.

That’s where you close the feedback loop: you (1) set targets which (2) trigger actions and by comparing the latter against the former you (3) measure results and are in a position to (4) draw conclusions and consequently (5) reset targets. As a result, you may modify or even abandon some of your goals, replace others, and introduce new ones. This is an iterative process.

We hope these rules will help you progress on your self-realization journey. If you struggle with any of the steps we discussed here, let us know, we will be happy to clarify things, focus on a particular aspect, or even discuss “case studies” with actual goals you have difficulties to handle.

To help you set and track your goals, feel free to try our app goalmap, it’s free ! Goal-setting and tracking will have a way larger impact on your life than any other activity which takes less than three minutes a day.






Is Social Media Bad for Your Personal Development?

Various social media

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” – Buddha

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram… Social media is everywhere. Always one click or one tap away on your computer screen, your smartphone, your tablet, and now even around your wrist or embedded within your eyeglasses. Social media is not only intrusive, it is also fun and addictive. But is it useful? Or is it detrimental to your personal development? If you are determined to achieve high productivity and reach your life’s goals, should you simply avoid social media or could you leverage it to your advantage? [Read more…]

Why TV is bad for Your Personal Development – how to Boost Personal Growth

smashed tv

As part of some research I recently performed on a TV broadcasting business, I came across this awful statistics: people in Europe spend on average c. 3 hours a day watching TV. In the US, it’s more than 5 hours. How dreadful!

Let’s take 4 hours as the mid-point number. Assuming 8 hours of sleep per day, people spend 25% of their time awake in front of their TV set. Let’s go further: assuming 8 hours of work and 2 hours of logistics / eating / etc., people waste two thirds of their potentially useful time like couch potatoes. [Read more…]

The Long and Winding Road to Your Full Potential

Reaching full stunt

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius

Becoming the best person one can be is definitely the smartest move one can make, for oneself as well as others. We may have all it takes to become a famous writer, a world class athlete, an incredible parent or an iconic entrepreneur. We all have powerful talents within ourselves. But how to unlock them in order to reach our maximum potential and achieve greatness in life? [Read more…]

6 Powerful Ways to Keep Yourself Motivated

swimmer's motivation

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Keeping ourselves motivated to constantly move forward toward our goal can be tricky. No matter how exciting our game plan is and how eager we are at the start of our journey, days will come that we will be facing fatigue and the loss of passion or will to go on.

You can always give a dose of motivation to your friends and those around you. But how do you motivate yourself? And how do you maintain this enthusiasm until success is finally at your hand?

Motivation is all around us – in everything we do! Here are a few ideas to help you unlock and harness it. [Read more…]

7 Tips For Achieving Your Goals

7 sky divers achieving their goal

What are your goals in life? Lose 20 pounds and go to the beach in your bikini? Hit the gym three times a week? Start your own business? Get a new car? Be a millionaire by the age of 40? Have a happy family?

Whether they are short-term or long-term, we have many goals in our lives, and our happiness is strongly related to how well we set, manage, reach and re-set them. And as you know, it’s not easy: we sometimes procrastinate, sometimes set the wrong goals or bite more than we can chew. How best to fulfill our aspirations? It’s hard work, let’s be honest, there is no magic formula – but here are a few principles which may guide and facilitate your personal goal quest. [Read more…]