Productivity begins with knowing your limits

Because the other reasons are overrated.

Abishaik Mohan
4 min readNov 5, 2020


Photo by Issac Smith on Unsplash

Almost every one of us thinks of using dozens of productivity apps on the market when it comes to consistently accomplishing our day-to-day goals. I’ve personally seen many people attempt to emulate the lives of highly successful people. What most of us fail to realize is that such hard-core routines aren’t built for everyone.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fail to the level of your systems” explains James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones”.

The true secret to productivity truly begins by taking an honest assessment of yourself and realizing your limits.

I was constantly repeating the same mistake in hindsight for quite a long time — trying to accomplish multiple tasks on my plate all at once. It never improved my productivity at any point in time. In fact, I’d have completed more if I had focused on these tasks individually.

The human brain, like any machine, has its own physical limits. Attempting to do something which is beyond that limit will almost certainly backfire. In this digital world where time is constantly demanded by tons of distractions, it’s extremely crucial to track the time spent daily in each activity so as to take your life in control rather than having it the opposite way.

Time management, a positive mindset, healthy work-life balance and the rest are all interlinked with a productive day. The reason why many people fail to realize this is because they run their life in an auto-pilot mode; rather than being pro-active, they are usually reactive.

Personal Tips for Productivity

#1 — Plan your day before going to bed

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now” — Alan Lakein

Oftentimes people don’t plan what they wish to complete on their next day and spend an enormous amount of time just thinking about it. This completely spoils productivity! Instead, compensate for that time, by making an action plan of the tasks which you wish to complete, just before going to the bed.

While it’s true that everything might not go according to the plan, it’s at least better to have a rough plan than have nothing at all!

#2 — Avoid auto-pilot mode

My Engineering manager at Extreme always used to say this in our weekly meetings. While I thought that this wouldn’t bring in much difference in life, I really can’t stress enough how wrong I was.

Have a list of goals to be accomplished each day rather than just completing whatever comes in your way. Writing it down on a piece of paper would help in clarifying your thoughts. By repeating this process each day/week/month, you’ll realize your potential and hence tune yourself to adapt and achieve more.

In the end, you’ll realize that you were able to achieve a multitude of goals in a short span of time!

#3 — Ignore things that don’t matter

Don’t let petty things take away your precious time! People often get bogged down thinking about what could have been done better in the past. This drains out the mental energy required to focus for the rest of the day. Why regret the past or overthink about the future when you can’t do anything about it? There can be plenty of such things and ignoring them is a key to enhance your productivity.

Similarly, shun away from any kind of distractions; be it physical or digital. Ignore crippling thoughts and things from your environment that make you feel unmotivated. Removing the non-essentials frees up your mind's thoughts and lets you focus on the action plan.

Sticking the paper in which you have written your daily goals in a place that meets your eyes frequently will constantly remind you of the tasks left to be accomplished each day.

#4 — Learn to prioritize tasks

When you have an overwhelming list of tasks to be accomplished, getting lost in confusion becomes really easy.

“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” — Stephen Covey

Which 20% of your tasks are extremely significant? Jot down those top three things whose outcome will have a high impact.

Take steps that help you in completing this larger goal. Don’t fall for temporary comfort. Leave the other minor things behind and repeat this process until your high-impact to-do list is exhausted.

It’s extremely easy to over-estimate the importance of a task and get it done in a quick time just for the sake of creating an impression. Before doing so, ask yourself if it really matters.

#5 — Take short breaks for sustained focus

Focusing continuously for 3–4 hours, without any breaks, is not everyone’s cup of tea. Certain tasks are bound to drain the mental energy out of you. During such times, taking short breaks helps you recoup focus and restore the original flow.

Breaks are also one of the reasons why some people are able to work consistently without losing enthusiasm. The secret to this isn’t working harder — it’s the way you work that really matters.

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Thanks again for reading and have a wonderful day!