“as much as talent counts, effort counts twice.”
― Angela Duckworth
So you want to be more productive. You’re not alone. To help you, in the past, we have shared a list of useful hacks that you can practice to increase your productivity levels, and here is a summary of them:
Top 10 Time Management Strategies To Increase Your Productivity
Determine your optimal productive times
Use time management tools
Prioritize your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks
Tackle the most important tasks first
Time block your tasks
Make a to-do list at the end of each day
Do not multitask
Block out distractions
Learn to say no
These strategies, however useful they may be in their daily use, are not magical solutions to your low productivity levels. While they may save a few minutes here or there, they will not do the work for you, or suddenly hold you to working at your optimized productivity levels every moment of every day. But what if I told you that there is one strategy that does? It is true that there is one thing, that when you practice it, delivers tangible, long term results. It may seem too simple, but we assure you that it exists, read on to find out more.
How can I actually be more productive?
The hacks we listed above, and in other articles by us, are temporary organizational tools that help you to organize your thoughts and tasks, but at the end of the day, you cannot simply rely on them to make you more productive.
When you think about the people in the world who are the most productive, and went on to accomplish the greatest things, they did not all make to do lists at the end of every day, or use apps to curb their phone addictions. They all had one simple thing in common: grit.
What is grit? How can grit make me more productive?
As mentioned above, you cannot simply rely on productivity hacks to make you more productive. When it comes down to it, you can only rely on one thing: yourself.
Grit is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state.
Grit, and more specifically the role that grit plays in productivity and success, has become a hot topic lately. This was started by Angela Duckworth's introduction of the idea in her TED Talk, which has now been viewed over 9 million times.
“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”
– Angela Duckworth
So do you have grit? Do you have what it takes to actually be more productive in the end?
While the plethora of productivity hacks that flood the internet may seem like good solutions to increasing your productivity levels, grit is the secret ingredient that will put those hacks into action, and stay with them until they deliver results.
There are 5 characteristics that make up grit, so we will break them down for you to determine how many of them you have, and how many you can improve on. While it may seem like if you’re missing grit then you do not have the one ingredient needed for success, but thankfully, grit can be developed over time, and is not a simple yes or no question.
““...there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time―longer than most people imagine....you've got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people....Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you're willing to stay loyal to it...it's doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.”
– Angela Duckworth, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
What are the 5 characteristics of grit?
If you are reading this article, chances are that you already know about courage. We all need courage to face challenges head on, and to overcome obstacles. In fact, without courage, none of the other four traits would mean anything.
But what does it take to develop courage? And why is it so important?
According to Angela Duckworth, "Courage is the ability to act despite fear." She goes on to explain that courage is the ability to stand up for what you believe in, even when others disagree.
This means that courage is not just having the guts to speak up, or being confident enough to ask for something. Courage also means taking the initiative to look within yourself, and decide to improve. Clicking on this article in the first place means that you do have courage, so you must have at least a bit of grit as well.
This next characteristic of grit is conscientiousness. According to Wikipedia, conscientiousness refers to "the degree to which someone is organized, dutiful, reliable, hardworking, and efficient".
It is easy to see where this characteristic fits into the equation. If you are conscientious, then you are likely to follow through on your commitments. You will keep your promises, and complete the tasks assigned to you.
You might say that this is obvious, but in reality, there are days when you feel like you don't want to get out of bed. People that are conscientious also have these feelings, but because they made a commitment to themselves earlier that morning, they go ahead and get dressed anyway.
“Staying on the treadmill is one thing, and I do think it’s related to staying true to our commitments even when we’re not comfortable. But getting back on the treadmill the next day, eager to try again, is in my view even more reflective of grit. Because when you don’t come back the next day—when you permanently turn your back on a commitment—your effort plummets to zero. As a consequence, your skills stop improving, and at the same time, you stop producing anything with whatever skills you have.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Endurance is defined as "the quality or condition of continuing or enduring; persistence; tenacity". It takes endurance to stick with a task until it is completed.
You may be thinking right now that this sounds similar to the previous characteristic - conscientiousness. However, there is a key difference between the two.
Conscientiousness is focused on doing things according to plan. Endurance is focused on finishing the job.
People with endurance will not stop until a task is done, no matter what.
Which of the two characteristics do you most relate to? The answer depends on whether you are more conscientious or more endurance-oriented.
Resilience is defined as "the capacity to recover quickly after experiencing stress, trauma, or adversity".
What does resilience have to do with productivity? Well, if you are resilient, you can bounce back from any setback. When you experience failure, you are able to learn from it, and move forward.
In contrast, if you are not resilient, you tend to give up when faced with setbacks. You become discouraged, and lose confidence. This leads to further failures, and eventually to burnout.
Why is resilience so important? Because it allows us to persist in the face of adversity. Without resilience, we would never achieve our goals.
Failure and obstacles are a normal part of life, so if you’re going to be successful, you have to know how to navigate them.
“I learned a lesson I’d never forget. The lesson was that, when you have setbacks and failures, you can’t overreact to them.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit
Perfectionists suffer from an inability to accept imperfections. They strive for perfection in everything they do.
They set high standards for themselves, and expect other people to live up to those expectations. In fact, they often make unrealistic demands of themselves and others.
On the flip side, there are those who are driven by excellence. These individuals are motivated by their desire to succeed. They have high standards for themselves, like perfectionists, but adversely allow themselves to enjoy the journey, and celebrate their progress.
When you strive for excellence instead of perfection, you are realistic, and through being realistic, you can achieve greatness.
“Yes, but the main thing is that greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each of them is doable.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance