5 Productivity Rules You Should Know in Your 20s


5 Productivity Rules You Should Know in Your 20s

So you just left your home and you’re about to be on your own for the first time. For some, they’re excited because this means a time they can do whatever they want without their parents supervision.

For others, they’re terrified because they have to face the adult world by themselves. In a way, it’s like being dropped off on the first day of kindergarten. Except this time your chances of peeing on yourself are greatly reduced.  

Perhaps you’re on your way to college, about to graduate college, or searching for a job at McDonald. Either way, to save yourself from years of stress and worries, it starts by learning the best ways to be productive and avoiding failure.

It keeps you from practicing bad habits and making mistakes you regret in the future. It’s like looking up a movie review before seeing it to ensure you’re not wasting ten dollars and two hours.


1. Know Your Sleep

It used to annoy me whenever someone said they only needed 2 – 4 hours of sleep a night because it showed just how disciplined they were. And as annoyed as I was, I decided to try it out for myself because of the possible goals I could achieve.

I figured with 20 hours of work a day, I could write a book, run a business, exercise, learn a language, and still do my day job.

But as productive as I was, I learned just how mentally ill I can become by working  for that long without the proper rest. It’s like riding a horse for 15 hours straight and expecting it to continue that routine for an entire month.

Sure, you’re going to make it somewhere faster than the other guy who’s just riding his horse for a few hours, but your horse is eventually going to die from exhaustion.

People are quick to assume that sleeping isn’t productive because you’re doing nothing but lying still for several hours. And although sleeping does reduces your chance of getting sick, giving you more energy, and making you feel like a bowl of sunshine, it does something else for you.

When you wake up, your brain is at its peak performance for around 2 – 4 hours. You’re more alert, active, and energetic to complete your tasks more clearly. That means if you wake up at 6am, then from 8am – 10am, you’ll be 10 times more productive than if you did it in the middle of the day where you’ll be tired and fatigue.

It’s like waking up in the morning with a boost of meth sprinkled into your brain. You won’t notice the sudden energy boost once you get out of bed, but as soon as you start moving your body you suddenly become a productive machine.

What I like to do is wake up around 6am, and take care of my mindless tasks to boost my productivity. I make my bed, groom myself, and clean the house. Once my blood flow gets going, I like to write or work on one of my projects.

Unlike any other time of the day, I have more energy and enthusiasm to create something. Once I sense a reduction in my energy or the desire for a break, which usually happens around 8am, I exercise to get my blood flowing again.

And to recharge my energy during the afternoon, what usually helps is an hour or two nap. That way, when I wake up, I have the proper energy to complete any assignment I want to achieve.

Don’t worry about questioning how many hours of sleep you need a day. Simply follow what your body desires, or else you risk yourself for slacking off in whatever you’re working on.

Unless you’re working on a mid-term that’s due in the next 30 minutes, if your eyes are drowsy and you catch yourself writing last night meal, stop and take a nap.

Keep your brain charged so you can think more clearly and bring out the best results in anything you work on. We may assume it’s great to sacrifice our sleep because we can get more work done.

It makes sense. You often hear the classic phrase, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” by CEOs on television shows and movies. But if you’re too busy trying to keep your eyes open while running a company, you increase your chance to making a mistake that can ruin it.

Bill Gates, former executive of Microsoft, used to work through the night in his office until he realized he couldn’t fully enjoy life when he relied on midday naps for rest. 

“I like to get seven hours of sleep a night because that’s what I need to stay sharp and creative and upbeat.” -Bill Gates

2.Know How to Declutter

Not that long ago, I walked into my office and noticed just how cluttered it was with useless junk. There were papers that dated back years ago and objects that I thought had disappeared. It’s like looking through your old toy box and finding that Batman action figure you thought your friend stole.

Although I assumed I needed everything that was in my office, when I truly examined what I needed, I ended up throwing away most of it. Before I knew it, my office was nearly empty and it was really nice.

It was like having a brand new office and my head was clear again. I didn’t have to lie to myself by saying I was going to clean it the next day, and I didn’t feel like a hoarder who only needed a few cats to complete the transformation.

But I didn’t stop there. I took that habit straight to my home and cleaned out my closet. I removed any clothing I didn’t wear for a year, the boxes that took up space, and anything else I didn’t need anymore.

When you live inside of a home that could pass off as a thrift store, you’re not at a high performance because that clutter distracts your mind and subconsciously changes your behavior. You get easily overwhelmed and exhausted as you develop a hoarding habit for things you necessarily don’t need anymore.

Although you may assume you might need those broken headphones in case you turn into Thomas Edison one day, a small fraction of your mind still occupies itself with those hopeless possibilities. And the more items you want to keep, the more excuses you hold in your mind for why you still need them.

It’s like filling a binder with documents on why you still need those beer bottles and yellow blankets. That binder can only carry so many documents and filling it with useless things like those won’t do you any good.

You don’t have to throw away your entire closet or give away your movie collection. Just start a small habit by getting rid of petty things you don’t need anymore. Clean your home and truly ask yourself if you used that object for the last 6 months.

If you didn’t even know you had something you found in the house, chances are you won’t need them in the future. Unless it’s gold or a twenty dollar bill.


3. Know How to Read At Least once a Day

We live in an age where less and less people want to read. With entertainment options such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu out there, that book collection doesn’t look so attractive anymore.

It’s a pain to see young adults losing an interest for reading to expand their knowledge because they assume they already know everything.

But part of the reason many young adults lose their love for reading is because school had ruined it for them. When they’re forced to constantly read subjects they don’t like, the last thing they want to do is pick up a book to read for fun.

It’s like forcing someone to eat only vegetables for most of their life and then trying to convince them that candy is delicious. The concept that food can be delicious will be foreign to them because they’re so used to such a strict and boring diet.

But whether you’re the richest person in the world or the smartest, you’ll never know everything. Someone, somewhere in the world, is always going to have an edge over you in a particular subject.

But what separates you from the average person is reading the mind of those who went before you and did it. Self development books aren’t just meant to teach you valuable lessons about life.

They’re meant to put you in the minds of those who lived before you and learned the harsh truths of life. They give you warnings on what not to do, the dangers of bad habits, and how to be successful.

In many cases, self-help books are like a cheat-code to life and each chapter is a different way to beat the majority of the population.


4. Know how to Uni-task instead of Multitask

Become entirely focus on one thing at a time and don’t be tempted to work on anything else. Avoid multitasking because it’s a trap that’s bound to set you up for failure. It’s like texting and driving while eating your lunch.

Yes, you are taking care of several tasks at once, but you’re also putting yourself into a dangerous position.

Although you may assume working on three assignments simultaneously is productive for you, it increases your chance to make errors and return back to them.

For instance, while I’m reading through documents and my research, checking my emails while talking on the phone will only distract me. Rather than locating any errors or answers I need to come up with, part of my mind will be focused on what someone mentioned about the crazy man at Burger King.

Another weakness I have is having the television on while working on anything productive. Rather than focusing on what I’m trying to accomplish, I’m too concerned about the evil twin brother on a television show.

While working on a task, only invest 20 – 30 minutes of your mental focus on it before you break away from it for a 7 minute break. And during those 7 minutes, read a book, play a game, or speak to someone. Give your mind a mini-recess so when you return back to it, you’ll be mentally charged to continue going.

This goes back to the horse example. Don’t keep your horse running without giving it a break at some point. Or else you’ll find it collapsing without even expecting it.


5. Know How to Eat that Frog

A great book I recommend is Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog. There, he teaches you that the best way to start your day is to eat the frog and settle down to your easier tasks. And he doesn’t really mean you need to eat a frog before you start your day.

Begin your day by completing your most difficult task first so it makes every other assignment that day less bothersome. By achieving the very task you were probably going to procrastinate on, you give yourself a boost of energy that makes you more confident to complete your other goals.

It’s like when you beat your first major boss in a video game and you gain those achievement points. You feel like a champion who can handle the smaller villains down the road. Your big challenge is over and the rest is a smooth ride.

For me, working out is my biggest frog of the day. I can’t stand the idea of working out but I do it anyway because it’s necessary. Once I manage to complete an hour of exercising, it’s like a heavy burden has been removed from my shoulders and the rest of my tasks would be easy to accomplish.

First, recognize what your biggest frog is and start your day off by eating it. If that task is something that can’t be completed in one day, cut it up into smaller pieces to make it more manageable.


For more like these,

25 Best Self Development Books to read in your 20s

12 Ideas You Need to Totally Embrace in Your Early 20s

The Easy Guide To Save Money in Your Early 20s

7 Big Life Mistakes People in Their 20s Make


About Author

Besides being random and dealing with ADHD from time to time, Michael Gregory II is the CEO of the Self Development Workshop. He's traveled to over a dozen countries, counselled a variety of people, and continues furthering his knowledge in self-development, depression, and mastering your happiness. On his lazy days, he enjoy watching people, reading in Starbucks, and speaking to random strangers. (Yeah, he’s weird.)


  1. Great article, but please please PLEASE proofread before publishing. There are several grammatical errors that were quite distracting while reading!

  2. Thank you for this inteesting post! One more suggestion concerning your 3rd advice about uni tasking. I usually draw a workflow so that I should complete one step and only then move to the another. It helps to focus on one thing at time. I perform this workflows here: https://casual.pm/. It is free for students. Hope you will find it useful!

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