The secret to becoming five times more productive

Wouldn’t it be great if scientists could come up with a formula for productivity?

It would. And they have.

Peak productivity comes when you zero in on something that’s truly engaging and important to the expense of everything else and you maintain your attention, driven by a powerful sense that what you’re doing has consequences.

Or as I like to put it, peak performance is the product of Fun, Fear, and Focus.

Fun is the emotion that drives engagement in the first place. It triggers the release of the neurochemical dopamine, which comes with the anticipation of a reward.

Fear is the feeling that what you’re working on has actual consequences. You can’t afford to neglect the task at hand, and you can’t afford to fail. The neurochemical that makes us feel as though something is truly at stake in what we’re doing is norepinephrine.

And finally comes Focus. That’s what you’re aiming for and in many ways, that’s the easy part. That’s because a combination of Fun and Fear will usually trigger Focus automatically. Focus releases a third neurochemical, acetylcholine, which ensures that you are locked in, laser-like, on the task at hand.

When you have all three, you will be working at your absolute best. The sad fact is that most people do the majority of their work in a state of distraction, disengagement, and disinterest. The fact that fun, fear, focus makes you five times more productive says less about the power of this trio and more about the sad state of our attention.

To quintuple your productivity, work on things you care about and find personally satisfying, work on things that matter and have genuine consequences instead of engaging in busy work. And finally, clear both your brain and your desk of potential distractions that can undermine the power of fun and fear to lead to optimum focus.