The Productivity Mindset: How to Think Like a High Achiever

A productivity-based mindset is the high achiever’s bread and butter. When everything boils down to day-to-day life – the ‘grind’ – productivity is the beating heart of everything we do and produce. Every Miles Davis song, any groundbreaking new medicine and any shiny new skyscraper is the result of productive people coming together to work and achieve great things.

A low drive for productivity is a challenge pretty much everyone faces at some point in life. Letting it fester can drag the most ambitious person down to the depths of dissatisfaction. Typically, the more productive we are, the better about ourselves we feel. That sense of accomplishment is unrivalled and does wonders for our self-esteem levels, so when we’re unable to replicate it consistently, it can affect more than just work. Errands such as food shopping require productive energy to carry you from one task to the next. Without it, things can pile up and weigh you down.

However, the path to a more productive mindset isn’t a mystery. Productivity tips are a well-covered area of self-improvement, but it’s easy to get lost in the mud. This article will outline the key areas to evaluate and implement to gain a more productive mindset and achieve great things.

How to Think Like a High Achiever

Goal Setting

If you think about the goals you set for yourself, they’re likely quite lofty. We all like feeling a sense of direction, so having that distant star to follow can help anchor us. However, that can also be a part of the problem.

When a goal is too far-fetched, it can prove difficult to consider how all of your actions now will lead to reaching that point. If you don’t see the results right away, it can feel disheartening and knock you down, putting productivity at risk.

The key to ensuring your goals are in line with your productive mindset lies in expectation management. You might feel you can do anything just before you’re about to sleep, but when the morning rolls around, the lofty goals and surge of motivation you felt just 8 hours ago disappear. Managing your expectations is a healthier, more sustainable way to live. For example, setting a goal of writing 3000 words by the end of the week seems infinitely more achievable than continually reminding yourself to finish the book you’re writing.

When you know how to test yourself within the outer reaches of your capabilities, you’ll engage more with the work you do. The more engagement, the more productive you are. It’s simple. More attainable targets mean you’re more likely to show up every day and hit them.


Life is unpredictable. Any day of the week can present unexpected challenges and throw our priorities out of alignment. Shaken priorities can unpick a productive mindset and forge a new, distracted path. To become a high achiever, you must learn to ebb and flow with the unpredictability of daily life to consistently maximise your productive energy. A tried and tested method is the Eisenhower Matrix.

It’s a time-management framework designed to help prioritise tasks through categorisation. Firstly, you split your tasks into 4 quadrants:

  1. Do first: important tasks that must be completed on the same day – emergencies and deadlines, for example.
  2. Schedule: Important but less urgent tasks which need to be completed soon but not right now. If you forget everything in this article bar one thing, let it be the art of scheduling. As this article mentioned earlier, managing your expectations helps to lighten the load and makes you more productive in the long run. Overworking yourself leads to burnout – the opposite of what a productive person needs. By letting yourself know you’ll complete a task at a later date, you’re setting yourself up to win.
  3. Delegate: Urgent but less important tasks you can shift to other people/services. For example, hiring freelancers or automating emails.
  4. Don’t do: fairly self-explanatory, but this simply means items that are non-urgent and not important.

You can choose to implement the Eisenhower Matrix down to the finest detail or merely the concept of prioritisation, it’s up to you. One thing everyone should remember is you cannot do everything in one day. Learning to forgive yourself for not completing everything is as helpful a productivity tool as any.


You can set as many realistic goals or plan your day as meticulously as you can, but all of it won’t matter if you can’t focus. Maintaining focus is what gets the work you’ve planned done. American psychologist Cal Newport’s book Deep Work is often used as a pillar in the self-improvement world. It boils down to the titular concept against its opposite – ‘shallow work.’

In the book, he explains what they mean. Deep work is the:

“Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate,”

whereas shallow work is:

“Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”

Put simply, deep work is the state of mind a high-achieving productive person should seek daily. Distractions must become the enemy. That means logging out of all forms of communication, perhaps even isolating for a few hours. This style of working is ideal over short, 1-3 hour bursts to ensure the brain stays active and immersed. When all of your concentration is directed towards the task at hand, productivity will fall into place.

Continuous Learning

A lot of what it means to have a highly-productive mindset resides in how you set yourself up. Productivity is fuelled by different motivations for each individual. You may seek to acquire a more productive way of thinking so you can feel more confident in the work you do, or it could be purely financial. Either way, the more output you produce, the more you must intake. For example, a writer cannot proclaim to improve if they don’t read. It stokes the creative fires in the brain and pushes them to produce something of their own. In any line of work, constant output will eventually leave the scales unbalanced. Your mind requires feeding.

Continuous learning is the snack cupboard that will keep on giving. The more you put yourself in a space to learn, the easier it will be for productive energy to come your way. There are a few different types of learning which are worth noting:

  • Formal learning: Institutions and initiatives specifically designed for learning. Examples include university and college courses, training programs from employers, and e-learning/mobile courses.
  • Social learning: the various ways of interacting and collaborating with other people to learn new things. You won’t be surprised to hear this sort of learning most prominently takes place on social media, through blogs and coaching.
  • Self-directed learning: Learning purely to expand knowledge or grow a skill. This is more focused on the individual with things such as listening to podcasts and reading relevant blogs.

What Productivity Actually Means

It’s pretty simple, a productivity-based mindset revolves around one thing – consistency. When you consistently set realistic goals, get your priorities in line, set yourself up for focus time, and commit to continuous learning, you’re orienting your mind towards productivity in all areas of your life.

Mastering it is your ticket to achieving great things. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Some days you’ll do everything on your to-do list and more, on others you may get nothing done at all. A person with a productive mindset knows what’s gone wrong and understands how to fix any mistakes.

If there’s one thing you should remember, let it be this. To maintain productivity across all areas of your life, consistently listen to your body. For some, a 4-hour block of work might be ideal. Others may work best at night or in short 20-minute bursts. Knowing when you react poorly to certain situations and environments will help you get the best out of yourself. This is particularly important for avoiding burnout because while the feeling of accomplishing everything you need is addictive, too much can tire you out and set you back weeks. We all have our limits.

I hope this article helped. There are so many ways to optimise your productivity, and this article just listed some of the most important.

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