Extreme Productivity – Graham’s 2013 experiments in productivity and balance

31/12/2012 |







Graham Allcott, from Think Productive UK explains his plans for 2013 – a year of productivity experimentation.

Have you ever experimented with your productivity?  Let us know in the comments


Happy New Year.

There’s a famous story of a boy who every day, walks home from school past a huge church wall, twice as tall as him.

Every day he wishes he could climb that wall, but he can never quite summon the courage.  Then, one day, as he walks past that wall on his way home from school, he takes some action.  He takes off his cap and throws it over the wall.  By throwing the cap – and thinking about the reaction of his mum if he arrives home without it! – he is committed.  Now, climbing the wall isn’t a pipedream, it’s a reality he must face.

As usual, I’m making a few, small, specific new year’s resolutions and I’m looking for ways I can commit to them.

But I’m also making some fundamental and quite scary changes to how I work this year.  I’m calling it “extreme productivity” and this is me, setting out that stall for the year ahead: this is me throwing my cap over a very scary-looking wall.

Last year I wrote “How to be a Productivity Ninja“.  The feedback from the book has been phenomenally good and I realised that the reason it seems to connect is that it comes from a perspective that acknowledges that we’re all humans and not superheroes, that we sometimes get it all wrong and that there’s always a bit more to learn and new ways to improve.  That book worked because it was me reporting back on my having conquered my own struggles with productivity ineptitude.  But now I’m pretty good at it, what more do I have to report back on?

Well, I’ll let you know during 2013.  This year, I’m going to be teaching our Think Productive UK workshops much less (we have a fabulous and growing group of ‘productivity ninjas’ who take care of much of that these days) and I’m going back into ‘learning mode’.

Each month, I will be taking on a new productivity experiment, testing different hypotheses.  Some of these will be designed to optimise productivity and some will be designed to deliberately make my life harder.  Learning comes from the extremities, good and bad.  I also want to go beyond simply ‘productivity’ and start to explore much more explicitly the idea of “work/life balance”.  Some experiments will take the ‘life’ part of ‘work/life balance’ to the extreme, some may not.

Tomorrow, I’ll be explaining more about January’s experiment.  I’m calling it “Email Fridays”.  It’s the opposite of “No Email Fridays”:  I’ll be working my usual working week, but will only have access to my email inbox on Fridays.  I’m expecting the lack of connectivity will panic me.  And I’m also expecting to get ALOT of work done!  Whatever happens, my commitment on this blog is to share everything I learn, not just the stuff that makes me look good.  I’m planning to be super-honest and super-human… not “superhuman”.

Through the year, I’m hoping you’ll join in and ask me questions on the blog, partake in your own productivity experiments (extreme and less than extreme!) and if I do my job well in the next 12 months, you’ll learn as much from it as me, too.

So this is me, throwing my cap over the wall.  Happy New Year!




  1. Bhavna Jones

    Hi Graham
    Graet to read this it seems so many life times ago we were on a plane togther. I would really like to meet up or chat as i am stepping out of the corporate world to do something new…
    Look forward to hearing from you

  2. Sean

    What a phenomenal idea!! Both the year long commitment and the theme for January!! Be fascinated to follow yr progress mate. It’s a big yr of change for me too, but Im not brave enough to blog it… yet… 😉

  3. graham

    Bhavna, drop me an email – I’ll pick it up friday 😉


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