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5 Ways You Can Be More Prolific Today

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When you think of the word prolific, what images spring to mind?  Artists are prolific. So are novelists, journalists, photographers and musicians. Those in creative fields tend to be thought of in this way. They are constantly producing hits, writing award winning books, and generally impressing the populace with their brilliance. They seem to bleed brilliant ideas, thought provoking insights, and inexplicably great content without any effort.

What does the word prolific actually mean? According to the dictionary, prolific means “producing much foliage, fruit, or many offspring.” Its synonyms are productive, creative, inventive and fertile. It’s a word that has come to mean being overly productive, and having the ability to turn ones available resources into something of use to the rest of us. It’s a highly valued trait, and one that many of us think of as reserved for those thought of as artistic geniuses or members of the creative elite.

But I would argue any one of you can become prolific, given half a chance. In fact, becoming prolific might just be the kick in the butt you need to do some real work and become truly successful. So how do you go about becoming (more) prolific?

Here are 5 ways to be more prolific in your daily life:

1. Find the right time to work

For some, it might mean rushing home after a day at the office to work on a side project for two or three hours every other day. Other people find ways to pull a few extra minutes out of their lunch break for some extra creative time. For me, the right time to do creative, productive work is first thing in the morning. This means waking up before dawn to try to squeeze in a few hours of work before I need to head to the office. Be sure to stick to a schedule that works for you and will be possible to do for an extended period. If you can’t build up a habit to do this type of work over time, you will likely not be very prolific.

2. Use tools to jump start creativity and reward yourself

Find tools that put you into the zone for doing productive work. This may mean a certain type of food or drink, a caffeinated beverage or a healthy snack. It may mean putting on your headphones and zoning in to your favorite playlist on Spotify. You may even prefer to start your day by doing a bit of strenuous exercise before you get into your creative mode. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid of using tools to support you as you start to produce. As I write this, I’ve already been for a swim, gotten my coffee, and I’m listening to a great playlist of instrumental guitar on YouTube.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it’s sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.” – Kobe Bryant

3. Create a system to make it easy for you to create something in a repeatable way

I try to make writing my daily productive habit. For years, I tried various ways of getting myself to start a daily writing practice, but I found it difficult to stick to my plan. I wrote in journals, used Google Docs, even tried to work with an accountability partner who would help me track my writing.

Ultimately, I began using 750words.com. The platform helps incentivize me and keeps me on track by monitoring my progress daily. It also gives me a system I need to follow each day which is not too hard to complete.

4. Stay accountable to someone, something, or yourself

Make sure to publish and share what you create with the world. The hardest part about being prolific is getting over the idea that you feel incapable of producing great content. We are our own worst critics, and it is often the case when we start to produce creative content that we second guess ourselves and avoid publishing for fear that others will think our work is stupid or worthless.

To avoid this trap, look for ways to share your content with people that are both within your circle of connections and outside. Use platforms like Medium, Facebook, LinkedIn, SnapChat and Instagram to push out your content to a broader audience. If you’re still afraid to hit publish, consider the worst thing that will happen.

The worst thing that will happen is often nothing, that nobody will even notice what you produce. Don’t let fear of rejection or silence keep you from sharing your work. The more momentum you build by publishing more and more, the more likely you will be to produce content that touches others and creates a lasting impact.

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” – Bo Bennett

5. Do the hard work

Being prolific (or productive / creative / inventive / etc.) should be thought of as practicing a sport or exercising. Exercise is not meant to be easy. Sport is meant to be a challenging and enjoyable pursuit. The more work you put into practice, the more reward you will get later on down the line. Think of being prolific in that way. It is very rare for someone who has never produced a piece of artwork to produce a masterpiece on their first attempt.

So why would you expect anything more from yourself? Do the hard work every day, and you will start to see marked improvement. Not only will you start to receive more feedback from those around you as they see your progress but you will start to see improvements in your own work as you make subtle shifts which change your way of producing content.

One of the secrets to life is the fact that the more you give to those around you, the happier you tend to be. We are social creatures, and we have learned as a species over time to share stories and resources for the betterment of the group. In this way we have learned to regard highly prolific people for their ability to produce value for others in great quantities.

At the end of the day, we are all striving to be more prolific, and it is by learning to be prolific that we can find deeper levels of happiness and success. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent and develop regular habits which strengthen your ability to create and contribute to the global discourse on a regular basis. Now go create!

How are you going to be more prolific today? Comment below!

McVal is the founder of We Write For Growth, a platform for businesses to connect with talented writers and researchers and growth hackers. He is also the author of How to Make $2,000 a Month Online and Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant. 

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The 3 Types of Confidence You Need to Know and Understand

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We’ve all heard it before, confidence is everything. Those that seem to have it, have it all. They, themselves, are not necessarily perfect human beings, but they seemingly have the charisma to attract whatever they want in life. (more…)

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If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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