How to Be Productive – 5 Highly Effective Lessons for High Achievers

Important lessons from a living legend of productivity.

How To Be As Productive As Possible

There’s one thing we’re all looking for whether we’re working from home or in an office building and that thing is how to be productive. It could be how to be productive on the job, at home, at school, as mom and so on. Generally we all want to know how to be more productive everyday in life.

Before we go into the steps on how to increase your work efficiency and become more productive, I want you to understand that I don’t have it all together when it comes to getting more of the important things in any day.

So I’m not expecting you to take these productivity steps and be super efficient by this time tomorrow, next week or even next month.

Your current work habits and lifestyle habits have been built over time. So if you want to change them or you feel you can get more out of your day, it’s certainly not going to happen overnight. So make one little change at a time and then keep moving forward.

I don’t always win when it comes to the struggle to ignore the distractions but I do believe in incremental progress. Making small progress everyday is what’s important in your quest to finding out how to be productive working from home (as is the case these days) or just being a stay at home mom who wants to get more done.

I learned these highly effective productive lessons from a story about Warren Buffett and his productivity tips. I started applying these steps and it’s worked (I won’t say wonders) remarkably well for me. I believe if you’re reading this article because you want to know how to be productive and I think it’s a great piece. So let’s into it.


How To Be Productive – Become a High Achiever

If you should take productivity advice from anyone, Warren Buffett would be a good man to listen to. He’s considered one of the most successful investors of all time, and is consistently ranked one of the wealthiest humans alive over $87 billion.

So here are 5 productivity lessons from Warren Buffet that will surely make you insanely rich if you followed them properly.


1. The “Two-List” Strategy.

The “two-list” strategy is all about maximizing your focus and mastering your priorities by eliminating things that are less important.

Warren Buffet shared this strategy with Mike Flint, who was his personal airplane pilot for 10 years. According to Flint, he was talking about his career priorities with Buffett, when his boss asked the pilot to go through a 3-step exercise. Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Buffett started by asking Flint to write down his top 25 career goals. So, Flint took some time and wrote them down. You too can list your 25 goals or the things you want to accomplish in the next five years or in your lifetime, or in the shorter timeline like next month or next week.

Ask yourself these three separate questions – Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? What do I want to have?

Step 2: Then, Buffett asked Flint to review his list and circle his top 5 goals. Again, Flint took some time, made his way through the list, and eventually decided on his 5 most important goals.

So once you complete your list, review the 25 items you just listed and circle the top five that matter the most to you. If you’re following this right now then pause here, and do these first two steps before moving on to Step 3.

Step 3: At this point, Flint had two lists. The 5 items he had circled were List A and the 20 items he had not circled were List B. Flint confirmed that he would start working on his top 5 goals right away. And that’s when Buffett asked him about the second list, “And what about the ones you didn’t circle?” Flint replied, “Well, the top 5 are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in a close second.

They are still important so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit. They are not as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.” To which Buffett replied, “No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list.

No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.

Just like flint, you will also have your List A with the 5 items you have circled and List B with 20 items you have not circled.

Keep both lists: the top five as your primary priorities and the other 20 as your avoid-at-all-cost list. Spend all your time and energy on the top five and avoid giving any attention to the remaining 20.

The problem is many of us are trying to do more, doing more usually isn’t the solution. We need to remove things and decisions that don’t contribute to our top goals and focus 80 % of our energy on the 20 percent of things that produce the most outcome.

Instead of having multiple half-done projects, we need to focus on completing a small number of them. However, it’s easier said than done.

You may find difficulty coming up with 25 goals. Try to get around ten top goals for the next few years, and then make up a few low-key goals to fill in the list.

However, when it comes to selecting the top five and eliminating the remaining 20, it becomes even more challenging. The top six and seven are usually important to us. But when compared to the top five, they are secondary. It’s easy to give in and spend time and energy on them. Eventually, they become the distractions to our top five goals.

Bottom line: In order to be productive, we need eliminate ruthlessly and force ourselves to focus on what is important.

2. Minimize Time On Commute

Warren Buffet once said

The poor invest their time, while the rich invest their money.

The majority of the time invested is the time most of us take to commute to our work place. According to U.S. Census Bureau, the time taken by the average American to commute to work is 25.9 minutes, one way.

Over a week of travelling to and from work, adds up to about 250 minutes a week in transit, which is a little more than four hours. In that time, Warren Buffett makes about $6,250,150 and Mark Zuckerberg makes about $5,250,034. Warren Buffet spends just five minutes in commute each way.

Time difference between the 40-60 minutes per day of the average compared to 10 minutes per day for Buffett adds up to 50 minutes per day which in turn add up to 9 days per year. In 42 years, the difference will add up to almost exactly a year.

Hence try talking to your boss and try convincing him that you will be more productive if you don’t go to office every day. Work from home or find a coffee shop within five minutes’ drive. It’s amazing how much more you can compound knowledge by 50 minutes more every day.

However if your boss demands you to be present then make the most of your commute time by:

1. Using it to prepare for work

To help gear your mindset toward work, set aside five minutes during your commute to plan out what you’ll do that day: things like goals, to-do lists and big picture ideas for your career.

2. Exercise control where you can

Commuters who “maintained small routines on the way to work — such as checking the news on the train” tended to feel “more excited about the day ahead, more satisfied with their jobs, and are more productive than those who had no set routine.

3. Be social.

Talking to others, whether it’s carpooling or even chatting with strangers on the train, can be beneficial. Experiencing social connections makes your commute more engaging, which can improve your mood, and hence the productivity.


3. Say No To Meaningless Things.

Warren Buffet once said:

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.

Buffett learned a long time ago that the greatest commodity of all is time..

He simply mastered the art and practice of setting boundaries for himself. In order to be productive, we need to simplify our lives. It means saying no over and over again to the unimportant things flying in our direction every day and remaining focused on saying yes to the few productive things that truly matter.

Here are seven things the most successful people say “No” to on a regular basis. And you should too.

1. They say no to opportunities and things that don’t excite them, stick to their values, or further their mission in life.

2. They say no to superficial networking events in which people swap business cards and never hear from one another. Why? Because successful people don’t network. They build relationships.

3. They say no to spending time with uninspiring, critical, or negative people who drag them down. Time is precious — choose a small circle of people who will energize you and challenge you to be better.

4. They say no to overwork.

While it’s true some successful people and many entrepreneurs put in 60 to 80 hours per week, very successful people aren’t workaholics who neglect self-care and family.

They recognize that if they can’t take care of themselves, everything else suffers.

5. They say no to doing all the work. This comes down to one word: “Delegation”.

6. They say no to giving the steering wheel of life to anyone else.

Another Buffett quote affirms this: “You’ve gotta keep control of your time and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life.

7. They say no to people-pleasing.

Successful people don’t neglect their deepest wishes and desires to accommodate and yield to others’ wishes and desires.


4. Decision Reduction

The gist of the idea is that decisions, large or small, all consumer energy and mental power.

Small decisions such as what to eat and what to wear every day can unnecessarily drain your will power, so we should avoid them as much as possible. Buffett eats and drinks the same things almost every day.

He eats breakfast every day at McDonald’s, never spends more than 3.17$ and cuts down to $2.95 on days when the markets are down. By avoiding making small decisions that don’t matter whatsoever, you can avoid decision fatigue and spend more mental power on more important decisions.

Here are few simple steps you can take to avoid decision fatigue.

1. Do your grocery shopping online at the same time every week and use a pre-populated shopping list for 90% of the items.

2. Don’t fill your wardrobe will hundreds of different items.

3. Schedule exercise in your calendar as a recurring event every day. Stop thinking about when to exercise and let your calendar tell you.

4. Make the majority of your meals the same every day.


5. The 5 Hour Rule

The final major lesson on productivity from Warren Buffet would be applying the 5 hour rule. The 5-hour rule involves spending five hours a week, or one hour each working day focused on deliberate learning.

This means setting aside time to give your full attention to learning and development, without getting distracted by other work. This learning can take different forms and a mix of these will give you the most well-rounded experience.

Here are the things you could do in order to learn and improve following the 5 hour rule.

1. Read

Reading is a habit of many highly successful people and is an easy and convenient way to learn. Try keeping a book in your bag at all times and setting yourself up with reading goals each week.

2. Reflect

It’s important that your reflection time is structured, or you could get distracted. Try keeping a journal, which will allow you to reflect on what you’ve learned through reading.

It will also give you the chance to think about lessons you’ve recently learned during work and develop ideas you have for the future.

3. Experiment

Set aside some time each week to test out new theories or ideas, no matter how crazy they are. Some of the most successful products in the world have come about as a result of experimentation. Innovation never comes from doing the same thing over and over.

Even if your experiment fails, you’ll have learned valuable lessons. You might believe that the more productive you are, the more successful you’ll be.

Productivity plays a role in success, but it’s nothing without lifelong learning. If you’re constantly focused on your current work, rather than on long-term self-improvement, you’ll never see much development.

So let us all take some inspiration and entrepreneurs and spend 5-hours a week on deliberate learning. You’ll soon be light years ahead of your friends and colleagues, and well on your way to success.


Most billionaires are masters of time management and of productivity. All of the above tricks seem small and inconsequential, and they may be – if you only do them one day and not make them habits.

But if you are determined and make small progress every day, you’ll change your life. Do comment below which approach will you use to improve your productivity.


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