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The Only 3 Ways to be More Productive

The Dose-Response Theory of Working Harder

When prescribing some medicine, doctors know that there is a dose-response curve.

Too little of the medicine and you aren’t getting the full benefit, but too much and you could be damaging the patient.

If you don’t have enough Iron in your blood, taking the right amount of an iron supplement can be helpful, but taking too much can be poisonous.

The same is true of many other things. Working out for a few hours per week is probably very beneficial. Working out for sixty hours per week can be extremely damaging to your long-term health. It is simply too high of a dose.

1. Prioritize Tasks by Energy Level

One way to work smarter, not harder is to plan your days and weeks around your natural rhythms. If you’re a morning person, don’t leave the most important work for the afternoon and if you’re a night owl, don’t feel guilty about sleeping later and staying up at night to get your work done.

I started to break my to-do lists into three sections and sort it by energy levels:

I typically do about 10–15 hours of high-level work each week, another 10–15 of medium energy work, and another 10–15 of low energy, administrative work.


“Use courage and wisdom, not labor, to make money.” — Nassim Taleb

Instead of sharing a new idea, we keep it to ourselves because we’re afraid what people will think.

There is no one way to apply more courage to your work.

Maybe, for you, courage is choosing to work less because we are confident in our own productivity time. Even if that means having a 5-hour work day or 20 hour work week.

Maybe it’s having a difficult conversation with someone at work.

But, for all of us, being courageous is the real hard work we need to do, rather than just “clocking in more time.”

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