9 Tips for Productivity and Efficiency From the Experts

by Lindsey Witcherley on Feb 16, 2022

Achieving your desired productivity and efficiency can be difficult, especially when lacking motivation.

Business 6 min read
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With advice varying from day to day, we've taken a look at 9 efficiency experts whose productivity tips you can follow to start accomplishing your goals.

What makes productivity so important – in work and at home? It's simple really: being productive helps to bring out the best in ourselves and each other.

But being productive is one thing; maintaining productivity while also ensuring efficiency is quite another.

Almost every day on social media, people seem to post about astonishing feats of productivity; they emerge like flowers, encouraging the rest of us to bloom. But being productive is no bed of roses. Things get in the way; life takes over. So, what can we do to remedy this?

Consult the experts of course! We have sought guidance from some familiar famous faces who know a thing or two about maintaining a high standard of productivity and efficiency. With their productivity tips, you'll be able to take your work and life to the next level.

1. Alan Sugar

Yes the Apprentice is back and a new crop of candidates are looking to impress Lord Sugar… We can't help but wonder, though, how much of a part productivity played in helping build his vast business empire, with an estimated worth of more than £1.2 billion

Lord Sugar usually starts early at 5am. Like many of us, Monday through Friday is work and weekends are his days off. But that doesn't mean his productivity wavers. A keen tennis player and cyclist, Lord Sugar can often be found on court or in the countryside during his off hours.

Watching the sunrise is a beautiful thing… But it also means you’re making the most of the day, which can result in greater productivity. Try setting your alarm for a little earlier, and maybe also do a mentally or physically strengthening activity to kickstart your morning.

2. Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a complex man. On the one hand, he plays games, works out and spends time with his family; on the other he serves as CEO and cofounder of both Tesla and SpaceX, which means his calendar is always a little crazy.

Musk uses a technique called "time boxing", which has become increasingly popular in recent years, to manage such a hectic schedule. Time boxing works by assigning a fixed amount of time for each task throughout the day. By merging his calendar and goals, Musk is able to maintain a consistent level of productivity all day, which is something we all should be trying to achieve.

Calendar management is a great way for you to manage your day effectively and get the most out of the time you have. Try timeboxing one day per week, or even just one afternoon per week, for a few weeks and see how it works out. You might find it does wonders for your productivity levels.

3. Deborah Meaden

A seasoned eco-investor, Deborah Meaden has been taking the business world by storm for many years now. And as the second longest-serving Dragon on the hit TV show Dragons' Den, she's been guiding aspiring entrepreneurs one “I’m out” at a time.

When asked about entrepreneurial ideals, Deborah championed common sense, which helps promote productivity as well: 

“It involves learning how to deal with inevitable setbacks and disappointments. And it tells you when you need to forge ahead and when you should cut your losses. It’s not the easiest thing to acquire, but it is a skill you can hone and develop.”

Trust your instincts when it comes to setting your productivity goals. Trying to do too much or too little can cause setbacks in your progress.

4. Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a marketing guru. Having made the Guerrilla Marketing Hall of Fame, Direct Marketing Hall of Fame and the Marketing Hall of Fame, his 19 bestselling books show a man committed to sharing as much accumulated industry knowledge and experience as possible. He also maintains a daily blog. For Seth, productivity value isn't in quantity but consistency. 

In his blog post “Busy is a choice, productive is a skill”, Seth said: "Anyone can be busy. All you need to do to feel busy is to try to get two things done at once–or seek to beat a deadline that is stressing you out.

"Productivity, on the other hand, has little to do with being busy. Productivity requires bringing soft skills (real skills) to the table in service of the generous work you seek to do. Productivity is learned. And productivity takes guts.”

Start with the simple things. Writing a blog post a day or something similar can help you get your productivity levels on the right track. 

5. Touker Suleyman

As founder of menswear brand Hawes & Curtis, and credited with reinventing the seminal 90s womenswear label Ghost, Touker Suleyman has over 40 years' retail and manufacturing experience. In 2015 he further expanded upon his tycoon's persona by joining the likes of Deborah Meaden on Dragons' Den.

Not long after entering the Den, Touker attended a business show, where he said: "Believe in yourself. The biggest investment is yourself, your time and your passion, nothing can buy that. Believe in your idea and in your goal, and let nothing stop you. Even if things go wrong, it’s not the end of the journey.” 

Passion is a fundamental part of productivity, as only through doing the things you want to achieve can you hope to be most productive.

6. Stephen King

The literal King of horror Stephen King has been terrifying people for decades with monsters like Pennywise, the sinister clown from It, Cujo the rabid dog, and those creepy twins from The Shining. But he's also known for being a frighteningly fast writer, averaging roughly two books a year. So, what's the secret to his success with productivity?

“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words,” he says in On Writing, his memoir. “On some days those ten pages come easily; I’m up and out and doing errands by eleven-thirty in the morning, perky as a rat in liverwurst. More frequently, as I grow older, I find myself eating lunch at my desk and finishing the day’s work around one-thirty in the afternoon.”

Stick to your goals. Once you get into the habit of accomplishing goals, it may even be a good idea to set higher ones that test more skills.

7. Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister of New Zealand and also the youngest female head of government on the planet, Jacinda Ardern has accomplished much and still has even more to do. She's a mother too and her productivity levels need to be kept to a high standard.

And Jacinda Ardern is making clear that careful time management is absolutely key! A supporter of the four-day working week, Jacinda believes in making the most of her time, both as a Prime Minister and as a human being. Work-life balance is crucial, and sometimes taking some of our pressures away means greater productivity in the areas that really matter.

Decide what you want your priorities to be. Having that focus means you can channel your productivity in the right direction.

8. The Rock

Some remember him as a great WWE wrestler. For others, he is The Scorpion King, yet others view him as Maui from Disney's Moana. But to us, Dwayne Johnson, famously known as “The Rock,” is a productivity heavyweight. 

Not all of The Rock's habits will suit the 9 to 5 day (even for us, a 3AM start is brutal), but habits like journaling to explore your thoughts, working out for health and well-being, and diversifying projects can all boost both enthusiasm and productivity. As The Rock might say, “it doesn't matter” what goals you have: as long as you keep trying to be more productive you will achieve them.

Vary your days with different activities. Whether at home or work, sparking fresh interest with various tasks is a good way to keep the productivity juices flowing.

9. Michelle Obama

Former first lady Michelle Obama understands just how hard it can be to fit personal time alongside presidential duties. In our quest for productivity, we tend to forget about ourselves, which could then stop us from actually being our productive best. Fortunately, Michelle can help us figure it out:

“Starting every year, before I booked anything, agreed to any meetings or conferences, we’d sit down with my assistant and we looked at our lives first,” Obama said, at an event in New York City. “We put potlucks in there, we put date nights in there, I put my workouts, we put our vacations on the calendar first, we put sports things and summers. We planned that out first, and then what was left would be left for work.”

If productivity comes from within, we have to look after ourselves first. Plan your work around your life and goals where possible, and, perhaps most important of all, practice self care.

[Credit: Karl Jackson, Digital Designer at Cognition]

Being more productive and efficient can sound like a lot of work, but it doesn't have to be. With a few simple adjustments to your daily routine, you can begin forming new, healthy habits that end up transforming your life for the better. 

We go by the experts' advice, so if you want a team who will support your business and help you achieve your goals, contact Cognition Agency!

Lindsey Witcherley

by Lindsey Witcherley
Feb 16, 2022

Director at Cognition and co-founder of DXG Consultancy. Over 20 years industry experience working across B2B and B2C markets. Specialises in digital marketing and HubSpot strategies across multiple sectors.