#156: Five Surprising Productivity Hacks

I have written quite a bit about productivity, and done more than a few podcasts on the subject of getting things done. Today, I am taking a departure from the normal recommendations about being productive-including my own.


On today's show, I will share five surprising productivity “hacks”- shortcuts that make you more productive. But shortcuts you may be shocked to hear coming from me.

Tip of the Week

This week's tip I actually picked up from my good friend Pat Flynn. Recently, I was listening to Pat's Smart Passive Income Podcast, and heard him talk about two apps that intrigued me. I've been using them now for a couple of weeks, and found them to be remarkably helpful.

  • Calm. This app is a “meditation app”. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Do we need an app for meditating? I think the answer is yes. Having tried a number of such apps, this is the only one that consistently helps me guide my brain into a calmer, less fragmented, and more anxiety-free state. Calm supplies you with a series of “environments”, or soundscapes, that in and of themselves have a calming effect. Some of the choices include gentle rain, wind on a mountain meadow, the ocean, etc. But the app is more than a white noise generator. It also supplies a series of guided meditations that help still your mind and assist you in focusing on the here and now. This is an app that actually helps you with the practice of mindfulness. And for my Christian brothers and sisters who worry about what they may perceive to be “Eastern religious” practices, I can assure you that the guided meditations I have worked through so far have nothing to do with religion of any kind. These meditations are more about being present in this moment, and not getting caught up in thinking about things that are not happening right here, right now (the source of most of our anxiety and depression). I upgraded to the premium version, and considerate money well invested.

  • SleepCycle. This app monitors the depth of your sleep by using the accelerometer in your iPhone. The theory is, the app detects how much you are moving in your bed at night. If you're moving a lot, you are either awake or in “light sleep”. If you are in deep, sound sleep, you won't be moving at all. Sleep cycle takes your target wake-up time, and watches you carefully to see when you are in light sleep, and only then will it give a soft gentle alarm to wake you. Waking when you are in light sleep leaves you feeling refreshed, alert, and energetic. This hass been very helpful to me, and using the app has increased my overall sleep time to an average of almost 6 1/2 hours.

Spiritual Foundations

What does it mean to repent? I submit it's not what you think.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”
Romans 12:2

Feature Presentation: Five Surprising Productivity Hacks

And now we come to the five surprising productivity hacks. Today I present some counterintuitive, but highly effective, productivity hacks. You may be surprised to hear these coming from me, but I have been experimenting with different practices of late, and found that each of these recommendations have helped me be more productive in real terms: in other words, getting useful stuff done that I want to accomplish.

  1. Read fiction.
  2. Goof off.
  3. Watch television.
  4. Multitask.
  5. Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel.

What about you? What are your unconventional or surprising productivity hacks that go against the grain of the modern school of productivity? I'd love to see you share those below.

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Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

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  • Annett Bone

    Yes, these hacks were a bit of surprise coming from you Ray, but I’m glad that you shared them. One of my productivity hacks I do some mornings. I sit with my eyes closed and listen to the the birds outside, especially when there are morning doves because it reminds me of God’s goodness and provision.

  • I’m with @disqus_WumIAncwOn:disqus – Surprising and awesome!

    I just started meditating last week after listening to Brendon Burchard talk about it. I thought it was kooky and “Eastern” like you said, but it’s not.

    Did it once and was literally HOOKED.

    • Agree about the electromagnetic waves, Matt. I had a Fitbit that I wore to bed for a while, and it completely disrupted my sleep. And I keep all electronics as far away from my bedroom as possible. If the app would work in airplane mode, you could use it that way, and then let it sync up in the morning. That would give you the benefits without the possible side-effects. I haven’t tried it, so not sure if it works that way or not.

      • No kidding? The waves are just from data/internet? Had no idea 🙂

        I’m still keeping my phone downstairs, far away from the room for other reasons though!

  • I recently read the book “Play” by Stuart Brown, and was blown away by the research into how play makes us not only more productive and creative, but also work together better and have better relationships. I’ve just come from a really rough week. Layoffs at work, and trying to pick up the pieces. I can feel the tension in my body and the distress in my mind. Was trying to work on my next podcast, and just said, “I’m going to play instead.” I think it’s just what I need. Play now and get more accomplished when I am in a better frame of mind.

    Thanks for reinforcing this, Ray. I think I have the same sick mindset that insists on working myself to death. Perhaps that’s why we both have insomnia. I think they are related….

    • Kathleen, I’m adding that book to my “to read” list!

  • Christy Largent

    Downloaded the CALM app. Thanks for that great recommendation. I’ve added meditation into my morning routing this year and I love it. I’m sure this app will make it even better. Also, love your list! I personally, RARELY have trouble fitting in #s 1-4…haha…I just need to do more of #5…but I keep getting interrupted. 🙂 Keep up the great work!