Pryramid of productivity, GAP framework, writing is thinking

Welcome to Work Less Issue 45!

I’ve gone quiet for a few weeks. I gonna admit, I’m not in the right spot to commit to a weekly newsletter now. Being a product manager at AppSumo while growing Wolo Yoga takes up a good amount of my time.

Instead of sending a meh email every week, I will write and send them occasionally. In the meantime, I will be building systems around here so I get to resume the newsletter to a weekly one soon.

By the way, I recently hired a content assistant. He has helped put a few book notes together. Here’s a new one after a long time: Just Keep Buying by Nick Maggiulli

Pyramid of productivity

I first learned about the pyramid of productivity from Ramit Sethi.

The bottom layer is the fundamentals. It's about how well our sleep, movements, and diet are. These fundamentals have a direct impact on our physiology and hence our energy level. When our energy levels are low, we're less capable to perform at our best.

The second layer in the middle is our psychology. It's the beliefs and mental models we have around work, time, and life in general. How we see ourselves and our work affects everything—from our mood to our motivation to our habits. It makes some work meaningful to one person but meaningless to another.

The third layer—and also the tip of the pyramid—are the tactics. These are the productivity tips, tricks, apps, and tools that help us do more in less time.

To increase productivity, a small tweak at the bottom of the pyramid makes the most impact. The tactics often only work when you have the fundamentals and psychology dialed in.

The GAP framework

When you first get started at a job, your role limits your choices. There are fewer inputs. You're often very clear about what to do next because there are very few big decisions to make.

As you progress (or you take the leap to work for yourself), you're exposed to an increasing number of inputs. You see opportunities everywhere. Your decisions matter a lot more. The stake gets higher and uncertainty increases.

It gets worse when we can easily access the vast sea of information on the internet these days. That adds to the already excessive inputs available. At a certain point, we consume way more than we can ever process.

High performers know how to filter noises out from the signals. A powerful strategy is what I call the GAP framework.

  • Goals. What are your near-term goals and objectives?
  • Areas. What are the areas matter to you most? What topics interest you the most?
  • Problems. What problems are you solving? What questions are you trying to answer?

The trick is to pick a few goals, areas, and problems. Consume all the information about them. Capture all the relevant inputs. Ignore everything else because everything else is just noise.

You want to direct your output to hit the goals, excel in the areas, and solve the problems. Then, come back to all three of them every quarter or six months and repeat the process.

Writing is thinking

One of the best ways to improve your thinking is to learn how to write.

Writing is thinking. The process of writing requires you to talk to yourself. It's about asking yourself questions and answering them. It makes you do the research and teach it to yourself again.

Write like you're talking to another person—even if you are the only person to read it in the future. It helps to extract things from your head and think about a topic from another perspective.

Framing an idea like you're talking to someone else forces you to clarify the idea. It takes more work because you have to assume the person who read it knows nothing about what you're about to say.

The goal is to make your notes more accessible in different contexts and times. And often, you're a different person when rereading your notes—from the person who was writing it.

More recommended reads

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Dean is a strong voice in the self-mastery space. His newsletter consistently delivers insightful ideas on how to become a better version of yourself and is the only newsletter that I always read.

Sebastian Kade

Head of product and engineering