Inverse productivity: Produce first, process second.

What is the first thing you do when you start your work day? For most people, it’s emailing or reading. Unless this is the purpose of your job, it could end up decreasing your productivity and undermining your potential.

On an average, a person consumes 100,000 words of information on a regular work day. My personal experience is that the amount of information I process before I actually start producing something is inversely correlated with how much I produce in a day. In other words, if I spend 30 minutes answering emails first thing when I get to work, I produce much less for the rest of the day. If I spend more than 30 minutes answering emails, I produce even less that day.

Don’t burn the creativity away

The reason is quite simple: whenever you process a piece of information, you use up creativity that you could otherwise dedicate to the production process because even the most mundane piece of information stimulates your brain and you find yourself constantly making decisions — both consciously and unconsciously. If you look at what you’ve produced in the past month, you’ll likely discover that only a few of the tasks that you have accomplished actually made a difference.

What if you could increase your productivity and quadruple the output in a month?

Produce first, process second

I have a very simple solution to this: Produce first, process second. Start producing, and only after you’ve completed the most important task of the day, you can start processing and tackling the mundane tasks. “I need to answer my emails or things will completely stop,” you might think. As you try to break your daily routine and your habits, everything will feel like a lost opportunity at the beginning. Try to see if the perceived loss is bigger than the value of what you produce.

This post is a good example. I started writing this as soon as I started working, first thing in the morning. It wouldn’t be here had I not began writing it first thing morning. And I definitely think it has a much bigger impact than answering emails. Starting with the more impactful (and sometimes intimidating) tasks increased my productivity throughout the day, because I have already conquered something big at the beginning of it.

What you’ll find after doing this for a couple of days is that you feel you have more energy for the rest of the day. Your output will naturally increase. The bestselling book “Eat That Frog” is all about this principle. Get the most important task done first, and the rest will follow.

Test it tomorrow without distractions. You’ll be surprised.