How to Master Productivity

Momentum is critical for driving productivity.

I remember being in Atlantic City in my mid-twenties, playing blackjack with some friends. I never gambled a lot of money. My strategy was to take $500 and have fun. If I won, great. If I lost, it wasn’t going to break my bank.

On this occasion, I was down to my last $20 and suddenly my luck changed. I started winning hand after hand. I remember getting close to recovering the $480 I had lost and starting to play it safe. Thank God my friend who had a bit more experience than me, was playing the table with me. He kept exhorting me to “push it Timmy! Push it! You are on a roll!”

Of course, I was very skeptical and at first, resisted. By his encouragement was very convincing. I did indeed “push it.” And, boy am I glad I did. I won $3,000! I am sure that I could have won more, but for a guy in his mid-twenties who does not gamble a lot, $3,000 was good enough for me. I took my winnings and left the table.

As I look back on that experience, what jumps out at me the most is the impact momentum can have on our productivity and performance. Sure, my gambling success was more luck than anything, but there was no doubt that momentum was on my side and I took full advantage of it.

What's great about momentum in the business world is that we have the power to create our own momentum. We can set goals and measure our results, structure our days so that we group together the activities that generate the most momentum, agree to peer challenges or merely challenge ourselves. There are so many strategies available to us. We just need to make the commitment to implement them.

Below are seven practices that have helped sustain my productivity and motivation through the years:


Decide you want to be successful

Success begins with self-belief. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.” Determination propelled by self-belief wins every time.


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Not always happy days

Sometimes things do not always go as planned. We must remain resilient. You will have bumps in the road. The great inventor, Thomas Edison, was working on inventing the garage battery. During the process he was interviewed by the local newspaper. The reporter asked him how it feels to have failed over 1000 times on this invention alone? To which Edison remarked, “I did not fail over 1000 times. I just figured out over 1000 ways it did not work.”


Set goals & measure

The “ready, shoot, aim” approach will increase your frustration level exponentially. I know. I tried it for years. My mantra is “Plan my work and work my plan.” This includes an almost religious-like devotion to my Productivity Model (e.g. Annual, Quarterly, Monthly and Weekly goals). I am virtually unstoppable when I prepare my plan and stick to it.


Stay physically fit

Staying in shape is a key component in sustained performance. Eat right, drink lots of water and get the right amount of sleep and you will be shocked at your ability to last longer than the rest of the pack. Burning the candle at both ends will catch up to you at some point.


Pace yourself

It was once said, “Success is a product of a good deed executed over and over again long after the excitement has worn off.” Success is a journey, not a sprint. Wearing yourself out has two negative consequences: (1) You are never as productive as you think you are, and (2) more often than not you end up hating what you do.


Establish a routine

Routines help keep us focused. Our success is so much more predictable when we know exactly what we are going to do every day. Sales is a perfect example. It is not the person who has a great personality, can think on his/her feet and can make it up as he/she goers along. The best salespeople establish a routine and stick to it like a dog on a bone.


Do what you love to do

This is key. You have to do what you love or you will eventually lose interest and sustaining motivation and building momentum will become harder and harder. I can honestly say that when I get up in the morning, yes, I do like some days more than others, but I never dread getting after it. I remember traveling to work one day as a lawyer. A job I hated. I was listening to the radio and I heard a guy say, “Do what you love to do and you will figure out a way to make money doing it.” From that point forward, I vowed that would be me. It took me awhile to find that thing I loved to do, but once I found it, the rest was history.

Check out these Productivity and Motivation quotes too! They are some of my favorites!


Timothy OBrien