The Productivity Equation: Design a Balanced and Productive Lifestyle | Mike And Matty | Skillshare

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The Productivity Equation: Design a Balanced and Productive Lifestyle

teacher avatar Mike And Matty, Doctors, YouTubers, Music Producers

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Our Class Project


    • 3.

      Multiplying Your Time


    • 4.

      Dividing Your Time


    • 5.

      Sleep Productively


    • 6.

      Being Mindful About Productivity


    • 7.

      Increase Productive Focus


    • 8.

      Eliminate Distractions


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Productivity is a state of balance. Push too hard, and you'll burn out. Go too slowly, and nothing will get finished. The goal is to build a sustainable system that allows us to work efficiently over the long run.

We've organized everything we've learned about productivity into a simple equation. If we tend to all 3 pillars--time, energy, and direction, we can achieve lasting productivity to accomplish more. Many of us spend hours each day contemplating if there is something more productive we should be doing. We stress out about if we're approaching our work or studies appropriately. But by focusing on how to optimize our time, energy, and direction, we can confidently pursue our interests and fully relax in our time off.

In this course, we'll address a variety of topics. We'll discuss our unique framework for time management. We'll explore the best practices for nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and sleep. And teach how to tune into goal-oriented work that moves us forward while eliminating distractions. The skills in this course will permeate all other aspects of your life. Whether you're a student struggling to keep up with your studies and social life, or a parent struggling with work-life responsibilities, this course will help you find meaningful productivity.

There are no software or tech requirements for this course. You will get the most out of it simply by coming in with an open mind, and be ready to have fun in the process!


Meet Your Teacher

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Mike And Matty

Doctors, YouTubers, Music Producers

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Hi, we're Mike and Matty

We're medical doctors in the United States, who now help people learn smarter and earn more using science-based systems.

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1. Introduction: We used to think that productivity was about trying to accomplish as much as possible, as quickly as possible. We can easily bugle down and increase productivity for short deadline. But the challenging part comes after. How can we maintain that intensity for days, weeks, or months without burning out? Hey, we're Mike and Maddie, and we're brothers involved in many different projects like music, YouTube, entrepreneurship, all while working as full-time doctors. Our Passion for productivity comes from our medical training, having to juggle taking care of patients, studying for exams. Basically, working long hours while trying to keep up with family life. But since we didn't want to compromise on any of our interests, the challenge was building a sustainable system that allows us to achieve a high level of performance over the long term. The idea of productivity can feel overwhelming since there are so many different approaches and no one-size-fits-all solution. We've made it simple by repackaging everything we've learned from books, experts, and experience into our productivity equation. Productivity is a state of balance and there are three pillars that support it. Time, energy, and direction. Let's talk about each factor starting with time. Time is a finite resource and time will pass us by whether we act on it or not so time management is an important part of productivity. It will be diving into all time management strategies in this class. For example, in Chapter 1, will explore the focus funnel, a prioritization tool that can help you with day-to-day decision-making. The next factor to manage is energy. You can have all the time in the world, but if you don't have enough energy to carry out those tasks, you won't get things done. A balanced mind works best with a balanced body. We'll dive into the science of optimizing our diet, exercise, and recovery, specifically for productivity. The third factor to manage is direction. Even with plenty of time and energy on your hands, your efforts will just be wasted if you don't have a destination to move towards. In later lessons, we'll explore methods that help keep you from distraction and focused on your goals. For your class project, you'll work on a series of exercises to balance these three pillars. If you break any one of these, the entire system topples over, resulting in burnout. Our goal is to make productivity simple so that anyone can get started, whether you're a student juggling studies with a thriving social life or if you're a professional balancing work and family. Being productive doesn't have to be a painful process. It should be fun and easy. By the end of the class, you'll have confidently applied the productivity equation to achieve balance in your life. We're really excited to share this with you. Let's get productive. 2. Our Class Project: In the last video, we introduced our productivity equation. Now that you have that foundation, let's talk about the projects that we'll be doing as a class to help you apply that equation to your life. At the end of each chapter, we're going to give you a little homework. We're going to be asking you to track specific productivity metrics related to that chapter. For example, the first chapter is going to be about time. We'll give you step-by-step exercises to track your time. From this, we'll be able to figure out areas for improvement, because what gets measured gets improved. To avoid overwhelming you with these exercises, we'll break them down into beginner and advanced levels. Some of these exercises will have intermediate levels as well. But the point is to help ease you into these habits because we want to make them stick and help you make real productive changes in your life. This project is going to be so much more helpful if you share your findings with us and with your classmates below. In the next chapter, we'll start with time, the first part of the productivity equation. See you there. 3. Multiplying Your Time: In this chapter, we're going to talk about how to multiply our time. Here is the productivity equation to help remind you where we are in our journey. What does it mean to multiply your time? After all, we only have a finite amount. Multiplying your time means doing something today that will give you more time tomorrow. For example, let's say I have a test coming up at the end of the week. If I spend 10 minutes every day looking at my rubric to figure out what I should study for the day, those 10 minutes will add up over time. Instead, if I set aside a one-time session of 20 or 30 minutes to plan out my entire study schedule for the rest of the week, those extra 20 or 30 minutes that I just spent today gives me extra time every day for the entire week. The challenging part about multiplying your time is figuring out what tasks you should actually be doing today that will pay off tomorrow. We like to use the focus funnel. Here's how it works. You start with a task and you run it through the first part of the funnel. Eliminate. Ask yourself, does this task needs to be done at all? If not, then eliminate it and cross it off your to-do list. If it's a necessary task, then ask yourself the next question; can I automate this task? Is there software or a program or an app that you can download to help you with this task? If you can't automate it the next ask yourself, can you delegate the task? Does this task needs to be done by you or can you have a friend or an assistant or a freelancer do it for you? Once you are this far down the funnel, you are left with tasks that can only be done by you. But up until this point, you should have been able to identify all the opportunities for multiplying your time. For example, you may have identified that you can spend some time upfront to set up that auto pay or meal prep for the week, or find a video editor for your social media. Let's finish off the funnel. We are left with tasks that can only be done by you. At this point, we are left with two options, either to concentrate or procrastinate and this all depends on urgency. If this task can only be done by you and needs to be done now, then concentrate and get it done. However, if it doesn't need to be done now, then procrastinate on it. But you are procrastinating on purpose. This is the only time when procrastination is okay. This means that the task will be put all the way back to the top of the funnel to be run down again later. You'll find that if you keep procrastinating on non-urgent tasks, they might become time multiplying tasks in the future. Meaning you will eventually find a way to eliminate it or delegate it. Or maybe some new technology will come around that will help you automate it. For this chapter's project, we will track all of your current projects that you're working on. For beginners, make a list of all the areas of your life. This can include school, work, family, friends, finances, and hobbies. Then list all the current projects you're working on for each area. For school, your list might look like this and for work, your list might look like this. For intermediates, you can take each project and break them down into individual tasks that need to be done. For example, this is what it might look like. For advanced levels, you can run each task from your projects through the focus funnel. Just so you can see which tasks you should tackle today, which ones you can multiply, and which ones you should wait on. Then from there, you could schedule your tasks into your calendar based on when you plan to tackle them. This entire exercise will take a lot of time and probably can't be completed in one sitting so take your time with it. Move through the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels in a manageable step-by-step process. So that was our chapter about multiplying time. In the next chapter, we'll talk about how to divide your time. 4. Dividing Your Time: In this chapter, we're going to talk about how to divide your time. Here is the productivity equation again, to help remind you where we are on our journey. What does it mean to divide your time? It means giving a clear start and finish time to your projects so that they occupy a specific part of your day. When you don't have a clear start day, you're more likely to put things off. When you don't give yourself a clear deadline, you risk procrastination. Not having clear deadlines will also put you at risk of Parkinson's law where work expands to fill the time available for its completion. We didn't give ourselves a deadline for making this video, so over the next couple of weeks, we kept coming back to it and making tweaks and edits here and there. The changes we made didn't really add much more value, but perfectionism cause us to spend more time on it than we actually needed to. The bottom line is, you have a set amount of time every day and the whole point is learning how to effectively divide that time amongst all of your responsibilities. Our favorite strategy for effectively dividing time is by using time blocking. There are two simple ways to use time blocking. The first way is by scheduling time for you to focus on doing one task and one task only. This method works best if you have a specific goal. If you have an essay to write, blackout three hours in the afternoon, where all you do is focus on completing the essay. The second way is by scheduling blocks of time, we're not allowed to do certain things. This method works best if you have a non-specific or a more broad goal. For example, if your goal is to try to be a better friend, that's a pretty broad goal. You might consider blocking out time to spend with your best friend as a way to work towards your goal. There's nothing specific that you have to do with your friend, but there are things that you shouldn't be doing during this time to demonstrate that you are being a good friend. Things like doing your homework or checking your email, or being on a phone call with someone else. For this class project, you'll track where your time goes every day. Before you're able to effectively divide up your time, it's helpful to see where your time actually goes. For beginners, pick one day this week and record how you spend every minute of that day. For intermediates, you will analyze how your time is being used. Not every day in a week will be the same. Pick a few days that represent an average workday for you. You'll notice that your days are divided into blocks of time. For example, here is what mine looks like. Categorize your blocks as either negotiable or non-negotiable. Can you eliminate any of the negotiable blocks? For advanced levels, you will combine the projects you completed in the multiply and divide sections. From the multiplication project, you will have a list of tasks that you should tackle on a daily basis. Integrate that with this project and see how you can better divide up your time. That was our chapter about dividing time. In the next chapter, we'll be introducing the energy pillar in the productivity equation. 5. Sleep Productively: How to recover our energy. Here's the productivity equation to help remind you where we are in our journey. For our discussion on recovery, we'll be covering two topics which are sleep and mindfulness. Since this is a productivity course we'll be focusing less on general health and more specifically on how to use sleep and mindfulness to improve your productivity. Similar to nutrition and exercise from the previous chapters, when it comes to sleep and mindfulness, you can think of sleep as the fuel and mindfulness as the engine. Let's talk about sleep first. Notice how long this chapter is. We can't stress sleep enough. It's probably the most important factor in productivity and is often the one people aren't optimized for. You've probably heard the generic advice, get enough sleep. It's vague, not that helpful, but also fails to stress the most important thing which is get enough quality sleep. Just because you spent eight hours lying in bed doesn't mean that all eight of those hours were spent in quality sleep. Getting enough quality sleep, spending adequate time in all the stages of sleep is crucial for productivity. Quality sleep is important in getting rid of waste from your brain and your body. Quality sleep is also important for healing, whether it's general inflammation or actual physical wounds anywhere in your body. REM sleep is when your brain consolidates knowledge into long-term memory. You need REM sleep to help you remember what you learned. How do you maximize for quality sleep? There are three natural ways about it and it involves light, temperature, and timing. For light, you want to get enough light exposure when it matters. Whenever you wake up, aim to get adequate light exposure to your eyes within an hour or two of waking up. The sunlight is strongest, so being outside for 10-15 minutes should be enough. But if you don't have access to sunlight then artificial lights will work too. But it can take hours to get enough light depending on the lux of your light. Then when you're ready to sleep, aim to reduce light intake an hour before. You definitely don't want to be viewing sunlight but this also includes artificial lights like phones and screens. For temperature, the main thing you have to understand is that heat wakes us up and cold puts us to sleep. Just to be clear, I'm referring to your body temperature. If you're having a hard time getting to sleep, make sure your room is cool enough with lighter blankets or the air conditioning or some fans. If you're having a hard time waking up, try exercising to raise your core body temperature. Finally, timing of sleep is naturally important. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time routinely it becomes easier. There are a lot of lifestyle changes that may or may not help you get better sleep and we'll just show them on the screen right here. But ultimately, the best ways to get better sleep is through the three natural ways I just mentioned. For this class' project, we will start implementing the three natural sleep methods. When you wake up, make sure that you can see light. The light just needs to be hitting your eyes. It doesn't actually have to shine right into them. Artificial light is not as good as sunlight. When you go to sleep, make sure that you can't see light. This might mean getting blackout curtains. Plan out the changes you need to make in your bedroom and write them down. For intermediates, let's add temperature to your routine. Remember that cooler body temperatures help you get to sleep. You can change your bedroom by adding fans or getting lighter blankets to help cool your body down beforehand. You can also consider buying cooling pillows or a cooling mattress. For advanced levels, let's add the third method which is timing. Stay consistent with your wake-up and bedtime. This is especially helpful if you work at night and sleep during the day. An easy way to ensure that you stay consistent is by adopting morning and evening routines into your life that make timing more consistent. You'll find that the more regular you are with your timing the less you'll be snoozing when you wake up and the faster you'll be falling asleep at bedtime. That's all for the chapter on sleep. In the next chapter we'll explore mindfulness. 6. Being Mindful About Productivity: We just talked about sleep. Let's continue by talking about mindfulness in regards to recovering your energy. Here's the equation again. You can think of sleep as the fuel and mindfulness as the engine. The topic of mindfulness is extremely broad. It spans practices like meditation, yoga, journaling, and also has deep rooted philosophical and spiritual meaning in many cultures. But in our course, we'll be exploring how to access mindfulness for productivity. In simple terms, mindfulness is the act of directing your attention toward experiencing the present moment. Through this experience, you can extract energy. Mindfulness has been scientifically linked to better cognition and recovery of both mental and physical function. Things like depression, anxiety, memory, pain, among other things. When we allow our minds to run free, it can fill up with counterproductive feelings such as worry, desire, fear, and anxiety, all normal feelings of human beings, of course. But when we fully use our minds to guide our thoughts, we can direct ourselves towards more productive feelings. Feelings like gratitude, motivation, and inspiration. Of all the distractions that bombard us throughout the day, the most debilitating are the ones that come from within. It is human nature to experience anxiety. We're worriers, we're afraid of failure, we're afraid of making the wrong decisions. Once we allow our mind to ruminate on worry, any luck at productivity goes down the drain. The objective of using mindfulness for recovery is to silence our fear of worry, so that we can focus on our work. If you're brand new to mindfulness, I recommend starting with short meditation practices. Once you become more comfortable with your thoughts and needs, you can expand it as you feel necessary. Here is a simple model to help you get started. For this class's project we'll slowly build up a productive mindfulness habit. It's difficult to stay consistent, but I find that having some form of structure makes it easier. For beginners, find a quiet place where you can get comfortable with your thoughts. It can be in a chair, on the floor, eyes open, eyes closed. There is no wrong approach. Just do what feels right for you. Relax, breathe, and let your mind wander for a bit. Your mind will eventually gravitate towards specific thoughts. Think of your mind as an inbox where all your thoughts are emails. Guide your mind to process the emails either by responding to them, deleting them, or archiving them for later. Address each thought as it comes by one at a time. Do this a few times a week and record what you thought about. For intermediates, it's time to determine the extent of control you have over your thoughts. Sometimes you'll receive the same email multiple times throughout the day, maybe even during the same mindfulness session. You cannot control which emails you receive, only what you want to do with them. Recognize which ones are spam, ones that do nothing but cause you pain. Identify which ones you can reply to and get closure from and identify ones that deserve to be starred for later. Try doing this for five minutes a day and record what you thought about. For advanced levels, it's time to re-prioritize. Reflect on how all your emails made you feel. Were you surprised by any particular thought? Was there an idea from your life that was buried on page 5 that you wish you'd looked at sooner? Use this time to clarify your goals, to reshape how you want to approach your life. You can get even more productive by gradually introducing motion with your mindfulness. Start doing sessions while stretching or while on a stroll outside. Motion can increase cognitive activation to enhance your mindfulness experience. That was our chapter on mindfulness. In the next chapter, we'll introduce the third and final pillar of our productivity equation, which is direction. 7. Increase Productive Focus: In this chapter, we're going to talk about traction, which means moving in the right direction. Here is the productivity equation again, to help remind you where we are in our journey. Direction is either traction or distraction. When you gain traction, you're moving closer to your goals. Distractions move you farther away from your goals. Being productive means maximizing traction and minimizing distraction. It's that simple. However, you can't achieve traction unless you know what your goals are and your goals are unique to you and depend on your own values and priorities. Hopefully, you have a good idea of where you want to go before you started this course. Through our years of learning productivity, we found that the best way to move in the right direction is to perform Deep Work. Deep Work means performing your work in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capacities to their limit. It's basically like being in the zone. You may have heard about those writers or musicians who go away to an isolated place like a cabin in the woods or a beach house and go into Deep Work mode for days and days. Then they come out on the other side with a fully written novel or a fully produced music album. If you're an athlete, maybe you will retreat into the mountains and train your endurance or train a physical skill. In today's world, especially if your job requires expertise or a specific skill sets, Deep Work is a reliable way to gain traction. You don't have to necessarily go away into the woods to practice Deep Work. You can do it right at home or anywhere quiet. For this chapter's project, we are going to be training our ability to stay consistent with Deep Work. Deep Work is a skill and it's a skill that you can train and the more skillful you are, the faster you'll reach your goals. For beginners, let's start by training your concentration. Use the Pomodoro Technique or you set a timer for 25 minutes and then do nothing else except distraction-free, focused work for those 25 minutes. Do your writing, study your homework, practice your three-point shots. Focus for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. The next time you do it, try adding ten more minutes to your focus time so 25 becomes 35 minutes. When you increase your focus time, you might also need to add more time to your breaks as well. The first time we did this, it was a struggle to sit for 25 minutes. But with consistent training over time, we were able to concentrate for multiple hours. You can actually find a video of us doing Deep Work for 12 hours straight on our YouTube channel. It wasn't easy and it took deliberate practice. For intermediates, try during your interval training at the same time every day. This is introducing a ritualistic aspect to your Deep Work. Doing it at the same time every day or even in the same place every time, primes your body and primes your brain to get into Deep Work mode faster. For advanced levels, try scheduling in your Deep Work ahead of time. Just like how you would schedule a doctor's appointment or a meeting with someone. Owe it to yourself and schedule in a couple of hours every other day for uninterrupted Deep Work so that you can move closer to your goals. That was our chapter about traction. In the next chapter we'll be talking about distractions and how to avoid them. 8. Eliminate Distractions: In this chapter, we're going to talk about the opposite of traction, which is distraction or moving in the wrong direction. Here's the productivity equation again, help remind you where we are in our journey. As we mentioned in the previous chapter, the only way to achieve traction is by knowing what your goals are. The same goes for distraction, you can't be distracted unless you know what you're being distracted from. If your goal tonight is to watch TV for three hours, then watching TV isn't a distraction. If your goal is to browse social media, then social media isn't a distraction, but if your goal is to finish writing your essay, then social media and TV would be distractions. Once you know your goals and you know what direction you want to go, you can then figure out how to minimize distractions. The way I like to think about it is that there are two forms of distractions, external and internal. External distractions come from outside yourself, these are things like alarms, reminders, notifications. You can minimize these distractions by controlling your environment. Put your devices on silent when you work, use ad blockers to block the Internet and certain websites. Another one is noise, like loud construction or your friends watching TV or playing video games in the other room. Minimize these with noise-canceling headphones or earbuds or pick a better location. People can also be external distractions. People who send your messages and emails, your family calling you, roommates asking you if you want to go out, this all comes down to environmental control. Turn off your phone, study at the library or a coffee shop. Internal distractions come from within. These start as uncomfortable feelings that can derail you if you don't manage them. For example, if you're bored, your brain might reflectively think to look at your phone to find news or social media to save you from your feelings of boredom. If you feel lonely, you might reflects the messaging your friends calling family or scrolling through dating apps, or if you're hungry, you'll keep distracting yourself with thoughts of what's for dinner. For this chapter's project, we're going to track our distractions. Have a piece of paper and pen nearby when you're working, whenever you have a distracting thought, write down what those thoughts are. You want to watch TV, write it down, you need to do laundry right now, write it down, you forgot to text your friend back, just write it down, but don't act on any of these at the moment. Just take a quick second to write it down as a reminder. Get it off your mind and move on with your work. You can check your list after you've finished. For advanced level, instead of just doing the tasks on your list afterword, sit down and analyze why you had those thoughts and tried to get to the root of your feelings. For example, in medical school, I played a lot of video games when I was supposed to be studying for my exams, I noticed that I wasn't finishing my practice problems because I would abandon it to play. I realized that when I encountered a difficult problem or when I got stuck doing something, I got really frustrated and felt that the material was out of my control, I turned to playing video games at the moment because it made me feel like I had control, but once they realized this, I was able to re-frame my thinking. Instead of feeling at a loss of control, I told myself a different story that this difficult problem was instead an opportunity for me to learn and explore my curiosity. That was our chapter about distraction. In the next chapter, we'll be wrapping up with some final thoughts about productivity. 9. Final Thoughts: Congrats, you are now in your first steps towards building a more balanced and productive life. Watching this course was the easy part, but now it's time for the hard part, which is actually putting in the work, and completing all the class projects. At first, you might get frustrated when you don't notice immediate change, but good things compound over time if you just stay consistent. Mike and I don't consider ourselves to be productivity experts. We're always just trying to improve just like you guys. Take a moment and review our course, give us some feedback so we know how to make this course better for you guys.