5 Simple Strategies I Use To Be Super Productive After Work

5 Simple Strategies I Use To Be Super Productive After Work
Improve your life, not just your performance on the job.

You are not your work.

You know that, but like lots of men, you don’t treat yourself that way. You spend your best waking hours at the job, come home exhausted, and have no energy and time left to work on yourself.

I don’t judge this – it’s what society encourages and normalizes.

But if you’re honest with yourself, you know that if you spent just a fraction of your time and energy on being productive after work:

  • You’d look in the mirror again and be proud of how fit you are
  • You could achieve the dreams you’ve had for so long
  • You could be a better dad and husband

But when you come home, you’re just too tired and don’t have enough time. All you want to do is relax after a long, hard day.

“Don't be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” – Dolly Parton

The truth is, the situation won’t change by itself. You’ll have to figure out other ways to make time for your self-improvement.

Here are five of them.

Use This Powerful Physics Principle To Your Advantage

Physics can teach you a lot about life.

For example, the energy needed to get an object in motion is much higher than the one needed to keep it in motion.

This is true for life as well – overcoming initial friction often takes a big push.

  • Getting up from the sofa to go to the gym
  • Turning off the TV and picking up a book
  • Dropping your ego and learning something you aren’t good at yet

In our minds, there’s a massive mountain to move. We often feel like if we don’t do a lot of something, it isn’t worth it.

You can reduce this initial friction by committing to just five minutes.

Even though I’ve been working out regularly for over a decade, I still have days where I don’t want to go to the gym. When that happens, I commit to only one exercise. I allow myself to leave after if I want to.

By the time I’ve completed it, I’m already warmed up, hyped, and in the flow of lifting weights. Paradoxically, it becomes harder to stop than it is to keep going – this is another physics principle known as Newton’s First Law:

“An object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an external force.”

All you need is the initial push. Make the perceived challenge small enough so you can get started easily. Then, you just have to keep rolling.

Five minutes is all it takes.

Don’t Lose Your Momentum

painting of dominoes tipping over

Laziness is a luxury.

There’s the adage “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” It’s true. During times in my life when I didn’t have much to do, the simplest tasks could overwhelm me.

I just wasn’t in the mode of doing anything.

However, when I worked full-time, did a side project, and went to the gym six days a week, time seemed to magically appear out of thin air. Looking back at it now, I realize it was because I didn’t make time for being lazy.

Instead of heading home after work, I went straight to the gym. Instead of plopping down on the couch after, I warmed up my meal prep. Instead of leaving the dishes in the sink, I cleaned them up straight away.

This doesn’t mean you should stuff your schedule to the brim and burn yourself out.

Just don’t lose the momentum – do things while you’re still in “doing mode” from work. It seems harder, but makes it easier.

Once you’re done with working on yourself, you can fully enjoy your relaxation.

Turn It Into A Shoulder-By-Shoulder Activity

Ever heard of shoulder-by-shoulder activities?

It’s when you’re doing something by yourself, but with each other – like going for a hike with your buddy or hitting the gym with a training partner.

Psychologist Paul Wright observed men tend to be more comfortable with these shoulder-by-shoulder activities than women.

I’ve noticed it myself – doing things with others adds a level of accountability, commitment, and enjoyment. If you have a slow day, your partner can get you up to speed – and vice versa.

So instead of tackling everything as a solo mission, get someone to do it with you.

  • Read with your partner on the couch
  • Watch self-improvement courses with a friend
  • Do house or yard work with your kids

Often, the other person doesn’t even have to do much.

I’m perfectly happy with my partner sitting next to me reading a book while I’m working. Them just being there can be enough motivation, accountability, and support to get me going.

Walking the path can be tough, especially when you’re exhausted – so get someone to walk with you.

Use These Approaches To Deal With All The Small Tasks

I love the German language because of all the quotes and sayings.

One of my favorites?

“Small animals also shit.” (There’s a reason we call ourselves the country of poets and thinkers – this sentence isn’t it.)

The English equivalent would be “many a little makes a mickle.”

Small things are often overlooked because they’re, well, small. But if you collect enough of them, they pile up and become a tough mountain to climb. Before you know it, you have a to-do list that’s longer than Santa Claus’s beard after a long night of drinking with the elves.

The good news?

If you approach these tasks properly, you’ll plow through them in no time and feel great for accomplishing so much.

Here are my favorite techniques:

  • Batch processing
    Group similar tasks together – for example, anything that’s exercise-related, e.g. finding a gym, creating a meal plan, and watching a video on proper form. It’s much easier to do them all because you’re already in the right mode.
  • Two-minute-rule
    If you can do something in under two minutes, do it right away. This gives you a quick win instead of wasting mental bandwidth by keeping it in your mind.

Small things can add up – use that to your advantage.

Hack The Motivation-Friction-Equation

All human behavior follows the same equation.

Motivation > friction = you do it.

Friction > motivation = you don’t do it.

Being tired, having big tasks you don’t like, and not knowing where to start create friction. Having energy, doing what you enjoy, and an enjoyable outcome increase motivation. If your willingness to do something is bigger than the resistance associated, you’ll do it – simple as that.

This also explains why it’s so hard to do things after work. You have little energy, willpower, and drive. Your motivation is as low as the shawty with the apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur in Flo Rida’s song.

I’m living in Colombia right now and although I’ve committed to taking Spanish classes, doing them after a long workday was a pain in the neck.

Then, I found a learning website that has interesting documentaries and entertaining videos with native speakers explaining why some penguins’ poop is pink in Spanish, sorted by language level.

It made learning a breeze because this skyrocketed my motivation – I was looking forward to the videos every day.

Make your tasks fun and you’ll be much more likely to do them:

  • Turn on some music while you’re doing household chores
  • Make it a game of seeing how much you can get done in 20 minutes
  • Combine it with something you enjoy (e.g. watch your favorite show while doing cardio, have a nice tea while reading, etc.)
  • Set challenges (e.g. read 20 pages) and reward yourself immediately (with a nice drink or your favorite tunes)

The higher your motivation, the more friction you can overcome.

How To Stay Productive After Work And Focus On Your Self-Improvement

There’s more to your weekdays than your job.

The last thing you want to do is spend all your energy in the office and then survive through the rest of your waking hours until it’s time to sleep and start the whole cycle anew.

Use these five strategies to make sure you invest as much energy into yourself as into your day job.

  1. Make getting started easy by committing to just five minutes.
  2. Keep the momentum going after work.
  3. Turn your tasks into shoulder-by-shoulder activities.
  4. Use batch processing and immediate action to take care of the small stuff.
  5. Add something that makes your chores fun.

Invest in yourself – it will pay off for the rest of your life.

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