No one knows more about productivity than Tim Ferriss. As an author and early-stage investor, he’s opened the doors of productivity to millions with bestsellers like The 4-Hour Workweek and his latest release, Tools of Titans.
For those who want to get a productivity boost this year, check out Tim’s top recommendations below and sign up to get email updates with more tips.
First thing’s first! How should you set your priorities? To set yourself up for productivity success, Tim recommends the following 5 tips to start your day:
- Start your day by writing down your intentions. Tim recommends the The 5-Minute Journal. Just a few minutes each morning can save you hours of wasting time or scattering your effort each day. Get centered on what truly matters each morning.
- Focus on doing the right things (efficiency) vs doing things well (being efficient). Doing things well does not make those things important. New apps can create more work if you’re focusing on the wrong things. Tim recommends The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, the best book on the subject in his opinion.
- When in doubt, the most important to-do is typically the one that makes you the most uncomfortable, often including a chance of rejection, pain or failure.
- Block out at least 60 minutes in the morning before checking e-mail to work on your #1 most important/uncomfortable to-do. Here is Tim’s detailed morning routine.
- To borrow from GTD, determine your next physical action for the #1 to-do that consumes 20 minutes or less, then take it. For instance, “Clean up desk” is too broad. It needs to be extremely easy to follow without any decision. In that example “Type all random to-do scraps into Sticky Notes, then discard paper” or “Remove all paper, and stack on floor for later scanning into Evernote at 5 PM” (then set a reminder) are better.
“When in doubt, the most important to-do is typically the one that makes you the most uncomfortable, often including a chance of rejection, pain or failure.”
– Tim Ferriss
Once you’ve determined your most important tasks to accomplish, it’s important to remove distractions and get on top of your natural inclination to procrastinate. Tim recommends the following tools:
- To help you focus each time you open a tab in Chrome, check out the Momentum extension.
- For automatic follow-ups and scheduling sends in the future, try Boomerang for Gmail.
- Emailga.me helps Tim process email about 50% faster.
- The Pomodoro Technique keeps Tim on task.
- Pu-erh tea and coconut oil upon waking instead of coffee to keep the energy up. Here’s Tim’s exact prep.
Now that you’ve removed distraction, Tim recommends the following tools for your work:
- Evernote is Tim’s #1 tool. He uses it 10+ times per day. For all research, saving webpages for offline reading, de-cluttering paper from the house, remembering wine labels, etc.
- For writing specifically, Tim loves Scrivener, the word processor he used when writing his latest books.
- Jumpcut allows users to expand their clipboards to 30+ copied items…flow heaven.
- For editorial scheduling, flow, and communications, Tim uses Trello and Slack. “They work together beautifully,” he says.
- A newer addition to Tim’s “save-my-ass (and time) app list” is Shyp, which he uses for all of shipping. “You have to try it to believe how slick it is.”
- For caffeine — The AeroPress, designed by the Stanford engineer behind the Aerobie, is the easiest way to get the perfect cup of coffee.
- Last, to logistics — Uber has “saved my ass more times than I can count”, whether avoiding long taxi lines at the airport or delivery charges from BestBuy, etc.
There you have it! The secret sauce to making yourself as productive as Tim Ferriss this upcoming year.
Productivity Workflow Sample Board
Check out a sample Trello board template, then copy and make it your own.
Tim Ferriss is the author of Tools of Titans, and has been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People,” one of Forbes’s “Names You Need to Know,” and one of Fortune’s “40 under 40.” He is an early-stage technology investor/advisor (Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba, and 50+ others) and the author of three #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers: The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef. The Observer and other media have called Tim “the Oprah of audio” due to the influence of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, which has exceeded 100 million downloads and was selected for “Best of iTunes” in 2015.