My peak productivity routine
deep work, big goals, daily action
Written by jack friks
Last Updated: Aug 26, 2023
Productivity is a wonderful topic, but it seems a lot of it’s discussion revolves around more tools than it does practices.
Today I want to share with you what I’ve done to be the most productive I’ve ever been. The most important parts of this “peek productivity routine” will not be about tools either, so you can forget about how to best format your second brain or your ultimate tracker. Today is about changing the way you think and forming better, more productive: habits.
Anyone creating anything can stand to benefit from noting some of these practices, so if that’s you, then keep on reading.
Before we dive in: I’ve recently launched a new YouTube channel for this newsletter, if you want to watch & hear my writings, then go subscribe over there by clicking the button below.
What is peak productivity?
Before we dive in, I have something for you to ponder around the idea of being “peak productive” & what it means to me to actually be in a peak state of productivity. Chances are that you have a different idea in mind than me right now, so I want to make sure we’re on the same page.
To be honest, I believe productivity as most of us know it to be a trap, & peak productivity is really all about making sure you can avoid falling into endless work, but still manage to get done your absolutely most important tasks. Real “peak productivity” is not getting everything done, it's getting what actually matters done (& stopping there).
If you want to avoid the trap of endless work when you are being “super productive” then reading the following quote would be a good start.
“Productivity is a trap. Becoming more efficient just makes you more rushed, and trying to clear the decks simply makes them fill up again faster. Nobody in the history of humanity has ever achieved “work-life balance,” whatever that might be, and you certainly won’t get there by copying the “six things successful people do before 7:00 a.m.” The day will never arrive when you finally have everything under control—when the flood of emails has been contained; when your to-do lists have stopped getting longer; when you’re meeting all your obligations at work and in your home life; when nobody’s angry with you for missing a deadline or dropping the ball; and when the fully optimized person you’ve become can turn, at long last, to the things life is really supposed to be about. Let’s start by admitting defeat: none of this is ever going to happen… But you know what? That’s excellent news.” – Oliver Burkeman, in his book Four Thousand Weeks
To help avoid falling into this trap, the best technique that I’ve found is to set a time limit on your “productive time”. Now that you have a dose of what I mean by “peak productivity”: onto the ingredients.
The 3 ingredients to peak productivity.
peak productivity is a bold claim, but I make this claim as its what’s helped me reach my own peak points in getting the stuff that mattered done. I do not think that this routine however will help you get all of your busy -fake productive- work done nearly as swiftly. You may end up looking less productive in the short term in many cases because of how many people deem someone as “productive”.
This routine is not aiming to look productive, but to really be productive where it counts. Helping you get the things that actually matter: done.
There are 3 ingredients that go into this formula which I’ve found to work best. I will break them all down further below as well (those parts are important).
Direction // Intention
Time set aside each day
As much as you need
What works best for you
Peak productivity Ingredient #1: Deep work
You’ve probably heard someone mention deep work before, if not, you can likely guess what it means to engage in deep work.
To work deeply of course is what deep work entails and it would serve you greatly to work with deep focus than it would not to, right?… This is obvious for most of us: you’ve probably felt the side effects of focus before when you were cramming a task to the last possible minute and your brain enters such a strong state of focus that it knocks out something that usually takes you 6 hours in 2.
Deep work is the practice of concentration, which in the digital age of the 21st century is an increasingly scare practice. Distraction free time is almost non existent and you’re only a one second text away to your furthest friend across the globe. It’s no wonder we are trying to me more productive, most of us can hardly move an inch without getting a ding, or being tempted to engage in shallow work that feeds us cheap dopamine. After all… when things get tough on your brain, why not just check your phone for a second to ease the stress… right?
Wrong! & you know it’s wrong, almost all of us do. Yet we still perform all of the same activities and habits that take our brain from where it ought to be: fully focused on the task at hand; that is if we ever hope to be at our peak productivity.
To get into a state of deep work: pick a single task to work on, set a timer, and work on it for that amount of time. Nothing else. Just that one task. I would start smaller with something like 15-20 minutes and work your way up as you get used to being in this focused state. Eventually you’ll realize how much more you can accomplish with focus and you’ll realize how useful working in such a state is.
Deep work is a concept I’ve discovered through a book titled “Deep work” by Cal Newport. If you want to dive deeper into deep work, read the book: it will likely help you even further to develop your muscle of focus and overall increase your so called productivity.
Peak productivity Ingredient #2: Direction // Intention
Now, what to work on is a large part of being “productive". Someone who has a goal to write a book probably wouldn’t deem making t-shirt designs very productive. In order to be truly productive, to get the things done that matter most to us, we have to have those things that matter a whole lot to begin with.
This is where direction and intention come into play. Awhile back I was aimlessly doing the same tasks every day, for almost a year without thought. I was progressing very very little and towards and end I didn’t even think about really at all. I was going up in small increments to somewhere I didn’t really care to go. I was not intentional about my focused efforts and had little direction on where I actually wanted to go.
This was until I came across the question someone wrote on the internet “What do you actually want from your life?” - this question stopped me in my tracks when I first read it. Still consistently in my day to day life I am asking myself this and finding new answers.
This question is the start of finding your own direction, or rather: where you want to go.
On top of this I decided to figure out a vision for my ideal future in 1 years time. I set out on where I want to be in 1 year based on the question “What do you want from your life"?” & then broke it down into weekly chunks of tasks I can do, then subsequently: daily tasks I can do to get 1% close to where I want to go in 1 years time.
I set some big goals that require me to absolutely utilize a focus state of work (deep work) & require me to act every day. This is my direction for my deep work sessions, & I can intentionally draw tasks from the things I want to spend time developing based on the tasks I took the time to outline for my 1 year goals on where I want to be.
Having this sense of direction, & the ability to proceed in deep work with the intention of progressing on my direction is incredibly valuable to remain in such a state of focus when it’s so easy not to. It wont always feel easy though, even with a direction.. but' i’ve found it helps to pick up the slack, and certainly helps to make sure you’re working on the things that actually matter to you.
Another book which may help you here: “The 1% Rule” by Tommy Baker. I used the exercises in this book to help me find the tasks I need to be doing and figure out my 1 year vision / goals.
Peak productivity Ingredient #3: Time set aside each day
As you read in the opening of this long wall of text, we are here talking about today the peak productivity “routine”, so it’s only suiting that we talk about putting these things above into a routine fashion. This can be done by setting time aside every single day without fail to enter deep work & work in the direction that you want to go.
I originally had this part of the routine as “wake up (& go to bed) earlier” - this is what I do. However, there are a lot of different people around the globe who have a lot of different conditions under which they operate best.
In general, anyone who makes it a part of their daily routine to focus on deep work for a period of time, no matter how they jam it in, will outperform the person working in shallow depths on things that probably don’t matter all that much in their long term direction (if they have one).
Waking up early is perfect for me because it’s the time of day where I have the least things that could possibly pull me away from my deep work. The earlier I wake up the quieter the world around me — I used to be a 5am guy, now I’m an 8-9am guy… as my situation has changed so has my routine, that’s fine: so long as I’m in line with my intended direction & have time to routinely enter a mode of deeper work.
You may operate better on setting your deep work time in the middle of your day, right after lunch, or perhaps just before bed: going into night owl mode. Figure out which structure ups your success rate of getting into the zone & then make it a routine.
Finally - this all seems nice to talk about or read about, but actually doing these things is hard. The best things in life are hard. If you feel a lot of struggle, note that this is more so a sign you’re making progress than you being on the verge of failure. I’ve fallen of the horse of “peak productivity” many times but the world didn’t care, only I did: so if you also find yourself knocked down of your horse: all that really matters is that you get back on.
That’s all the motivational speech I have for you today, good luck my friend 👋
Too Long Didnt Read
To achieve peak productivity, embrace deep work for focused concentration, set clear direction and intention, and allocate daily time for focused tasks. Evolve your habits and align them with meaningful goals.
Recommended books: “Deep Work” By Cal Newport & “The 1% Rule” By Tommy Baker.
hope you enjoyed the free brain juice,
my mom approved it.