improve productivity

Deliberate Practice: How To Improve Your Productivity… Fast

When you think of improving productivity, you most likely imagine fancy to-do lists, sophisticated calendars and glamorous lifehacks.

Yet, the real improvements are hidden in plain sight.

In getting better at the things that you do every single day.

And the best part?

You see quick, measurable results for relatively small amounts of effort.

Here’s how to improve productivity fast in just 4 simple steps and put the powerful concept of “Deliberate practice” to work for yourself:

What if you improved your typing speed by 10%? Not a seemingly big time saver at first. Depending on how much you type, it might save you anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes per day.

“Meh, why bother?” – you might say.

But, here is where it gets interesting really fast. How often do you type? Most likely the answer is every day, or 5 days a week at the very least. 5 days x 15 minutes = 75 minutes per week. On a monthly basis that is close to 300 minutes or 5 full hours.

5 hours extra!

Time that you can spend at the gym, with your family, basking in the sun (unless you live in Canada), reading or even working and getting closer to your goals much faster.

This is the result of improving just one activity.

What if you cut down 10 minutes from your commute? Or read a bit faster?

Small gains in the activities that you repeatedly do lead to dramatic productivity improvements.

Here’s how to find what those activities are for YOU and most importantly, how to optimize them.

Let’s do it.

deliberate practice

1. List All Repetitive Activities

Arm yourself with a piece of paper and your favorite pen (the best productivity tools as voted by 63 productivity experts). List the repetitive activities that occupy the most of your time at home and at work.

The list does not have to look pretty or be arranged in a special way.

Just write.

Do you commute for 1 hour each way? Do you do most of you work on a computer? A lot of meetings? Do you send and receive a ton of email?

Simply write down how you spend the biggest chunks of time every single day.

Step 1 – done!

2. Break The Activities Into Actions

Sending emails or attending meetings are not real physical activities.

They are a collection of multiple physical actions such a typing, using the mouse, taking notes, speaking, etc.

The only way to get better at an activities is to get better at the actions that said activity is made of.

Go through your list and break down each of your entries into actions.

The activity of emailing can be stripped down to the actions of reading and typing. Commuting to and from work is simply driving. Consuming a lot of information in written form is reading.

You get the idea.

It might seem silly at first, but it will all make sense at the end, I promise

3. Figure Out What You Need To Do To Get Better

Put your creativity hat on.


OK. Let’s move on.

Look at your list of activities and actions. Pick out the one that takes the most time each day.

For most people that would be either consuming information in the form of emails, reports, training materials, etc. or typing (sending emails, creating reports, communicating with people, etc).

It only makes sense that if you get even a little bit better at one of those (or both) your productivity would dramatically improve, simply because you spend so much time doing it on a regular basis.

If you want to read faster, there are numerous techniques you can use. From speed reading to “skimming and scanning” and anything in between.

If you want to type faster, you can learn how to touch type, or even use a more optimized keyboard layout such as Dvorak or Colemak.

If you want to commute less, you can use an alternative transportation method. Or figure out a different route with less traffic. Or figure out the optimal time to leave to avoid rush-hour.

Look at the actions you do the most every day and figure out what you need to do in order to get better (faster) at them.

4. Schedule “Deliberate Practice” Time

Deliberate practice or DP, is a technique used by professional athletes, musicians and even chess grandmasters to dramatically improve their skills.

The more official definition of deliberate practice is:

Activities designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individual’s performance.

Simply put, it means setting some aside to practice with the sole purpose of getting better at something.

Your reading speed would gradually improve if you spend a lot of time reading. But, if you spend 10 minutes per day deliberately practicing speed reading you’ll get much better results, faster.

The last piece of the puzzle is scheduling some time every day to get better at the action that you do the most every day. Whether that is touch typing, speed reading, organizing your closet so you can pick your outfits every morning in less time or learning how to cut your salad faster, depends entirely on the list you created in steps 1 and 2.

Your Turn Now

It is not a glamorous process, but is one that delivers great results.

Figure out what is it that takes the most time out of your day. Break it into actions. Find a way to get better or faster at it. Schedule time to practice (deliberate practice) and improve your skill.

A few minutes saved every day quickly adds up to hours over the course of just a month.

Question: what is the activity or action that takes the most time out of your day? Answer by leaving a comment down below: