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Be on top of your game


Some people are what we call high performers. They are exceptionally focused, insanely organised and (therefore) incredibly productive. They are detail oriented, remember things well, are good with deadlines, and usually get out of bed before their alarm clock.

Others are… well, not. I happen to fall into the “not” category. Some of us (including me) are big performers. I say “Big” because they think BIG. They have big dreams, big goals and usually big personalities. More than anything else, they are exceptionally skilled at seeing the BIG PICTURE. These people are good at ideas. They are fantastic at coming up with great concepts and understanding how those concepts will play out. Unfortunately, they’re not detailed oriented, forget stuff and often finish projects just before the deadline – or just after it. And, of course, they hit snooze a few times before getting out of bed.

But people with big ideas want to bring those ideas to life – they just need help being more productive. And so, hoping for that, I undertook a quest to achieve better productivity. Along the way, I compiled a list of five rules to increase productivity. The best part is, these rules can be applied to any job, any field of study and, in fact, any area of your life.


1. Write It Down
Writing things down is something I recommend in a lot of instances, and since I have to plan diets and training, it makes a lot of sense to me. You see, putting something down in black and white gives it something it lacked previously: tangibility. Writing takes things from ideas to plans.

In my case, the way I am doing things now is to have working to-do lists. I simply make a list each night of all of the stuff I want to do the next day, listed in either order of importance or the chronological order that I want to finish them (you’ll have to play around to see what works best for you). By doing this, I am immediately able to get started on my day in a productive way.

This is surprisingly effective. Even writing down “walk the dog for at least 25 minutes” seems to have an impact on the weight of that task, and I’m a lot less likely to skip out halfway through. Going further than to-do lists, I now write down nearly everything. I make a note of any idea that comes to mind that I’d like to write about, as well as random thoughts that drift into my head, which I find allows me to organize things more efficiently.

To put things back in the fitness context and give you something actionable, I suggest you start recording both your meals and your training sessions. Ideally, you will plan them out beforehand and then record them during, to see how closely you can match your plan. In the case of my coaching clients, both training and diet are planned for them, and the client has to follow the plan. Life is a lot easier and more productive when these things are handled in advance (or simply done for you). Even if you’re not going to start planning your diet and training in advance, at the very least I recommend you start recording them during the event. You are a lot more likely to get a better workout and eat the right things.

Another good diet tip is to use your cell phone camera to take a picture of every meal. Taking a picture serves as a pattern interruption and forces you to think about what you’re eating. While you don’t have to post the pictures on Facebook or Instagram, try to look at your meals through that lens. If you’re trying to lose fat, each meal should take you closer to that goal. If you wouldn’t want your friends to know what you’re eating, you probably aren’t making the right choices. So write it down!

2. Wake Up Earlier
Yeah, I know. Pretty basic. I’ll go further and say it’s not just important to wake up early (or earlier), but that it’s important to wake up at the same time every day. One aspect of working from home that is simultaneously a blessing and a curse is that my days aren’t always the same. There are days when I train clients and days when the only thing I have on my agenda is writing and programming. Which means that at least 50% of the time I don’t have a set schedule. This is certainly the dream for a lot of people: the freedom to do what you want, when you want and at your leisure.

Yeah, well, sounds nice, and I think for a lot of people it would work well, but I seem to be the type of person who thrives with structure. Again, this should have been something I was aware of, since I find I do better with “rules”-based dieting and a structured training plan. To that end, I have started getting up at the same time every single day, whether or not I have to be awake. This keeps me on schedule and forces me to start following my to-do list earlier in the day.


Currently, I am getting up at 6AM That’s not exactly “early” by any real stretch of the imagination. And while I’ve tried getting up at 5AM every day, it doesn’t work for me. The thing about it is, I’ve come to know myself.

Given that this post is all about productivity, I have come to realize that I do my best creative writing between 8PM and 12 midnight. That means that if I get to bed immediately after (and I don’t have difficulty falling asleep), I can still get 6-7 hours, which is good for me. This is something that’s important to me. If I’m not working on a project that involves a high level of creativity, I can go to bed earlier.

Bringing it back to fitness, something as simple as getting up earlier and making sure you do your stretching, foam rolling or even a full workout is an easy way to ensure that you actually get it done. My point is that by mastering your time and understanding your “rhythms”, you can become exponentially more productive. I would estimate that in the 60 minutes I spend active that I previously spent sleeping, I get about three to four times as much work done as any other point of the day.

• Look out for the concluding part in my next article. Till then, good luck out there.

In this article:
Maje Ayida
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