Every time I see a piece of productivity content, I want to pull my eyeballs out of their sockets and flush them down the toilet.
It’s always the same stupid suggestions: pomodoro timers, turn off notifications, drink water and throw in another Ikagi matrix for good measure. U-s-e-l-l-l-l-l-e-e-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s-s-s-s.
Shhhh … don’t let the productivity gurus hear.
Let me give you a few practical strategies you almost certainly haven’t heard of before, that’ll help you do 4 hours of the best work of your life.
Waking up early is *NOT* the cheat code to success
All the hustle hard LinkedIn influencers are gonna hunt me down and stab me with a bear knife for saying this. Come at me.
Waking up early is cliche advice. It sounds good. But it has two-tenths of stuff all to do with producing the best work of your life. Surely no one believes waking up at 5 am makes their work better?
Like, to produce a grand symphony better than Mozart, all one has to do is get up early tomorrow? Pretty sure lots of people have done this accidentally and haven’t got a Grammy.
The secret to doing the best 4 hours of work in your life is to discover what time of the day you’re most productive. That comes with trial and error. For me, it’s between 9 am and 12 pm. As a young adult DJ, it was between 8 pm — 1 am.
Everyone’s peak hours vary.
Use the “triple peak work day” strategy
Research from Microsoft suggests the workday has three peaks.
Most of us have a productive peak before lunch and right after lunch. For a few superhumans (not me), there’s also a late-night peak at around 10 pm.
Your 4 hours of solid work should ideally fit around one of these peaks. If it does then what you produce will be some of your best work.
How to find the transformational 4-hour stretch of time
“I’m busy Tim, dontcha know.”
I get it. Finding time can seem hard, until you use an unconventional approach. The obvious approach is to get good at saying no so your calendar isn’t backed up like my aunty’s disgusting sink.
But there’s another level.
My friend Ayo says you’ve got to learn to say no and give zero explanation. I used to see this in my corporate job. Important leaders would decline my in-person meeting invitations and not tell me why.
The noes also help reduce the number of meetings. Because you can’t do the best work of your life if you’re stuck in back-to-back meeting hell.
Think of it like this popular meme:
Before the phone call you think about what’s gonna happen. Then you prepare for the call, eat some food, and go to the bathroom. After all of that sometimes the call doesn’t even happen.
Saying no fixes a lot of problems.
No lets you say yes to 4-hour stretches of work that change your life.
Have a “second morning”
Sometimes I feel we’re like monkeys … easily fooled.
Before we start work we all have a morning ritual. You might eat, poop, exercise, shower, etc. This programs the mind to get primed to work.
After the effect of the morning routine wears off our best work for the day is often behind us. There’s a simple hack from Courtney Johnson that can trick the brain. Have a second morning.
Do your morning routine again later in the day.
It acts like a reboot. Your brain thinks it’s the morning again. Bizarrely, I feel fresh every time I have a second morning in the middle of the afternoon.
I re-get ready, re-brush my teeth, re-do my hair, re-shower, and re-exercise. My dumb brain thinks it’s 7 am again.
Use second mornings to reboot your energy levels and clear the mind.
Recharge for the next phase of work with these two simple techniques
A lot of people work 8-hour workdays.
If you think of work as two 2-hour blocks then chances are one of those blocks sucks. It’s just a lot of jerking around and procrastination. The easy way to fix the problem is to either take a nap or go work out.
When you insert one of these activities in the middle it acts as another form of reset.
The most effective strategy on the internet
The best work of your life is done in a flow state. Read that again.
A flow state is simply where you’re challenged slightly beyond your comfort zone to perform a task without any distractions.
To prepare for 4 hours in flow you typically drink coffee, exercise, relax, have a warm shower, warm up with an easy task, hit play on a movie soundtrack, and then start your 4-hour stretch.
Work done in a flow state feels different. Your perception of time is temporarily altered. 4 hours feels like 30 minutes.
Most people don’t know that this has been the strategy I’ve used to become an online writer, make 7 figures, and quit my job. They mistakenly think it was talent or some secret tactics. But it wasn’t.
I’ve mastered flow states. The reward is enormous when you do.
If you want to do the four best hours of work you’ve ever done then master flow. Do deep work with zero distractions.
16 hours is the true zone of genius
Wait, what? You scumbag Timbo!
Hear me out. On most days 4 hours of deep work is enough to do amazing work. But there’s a time in your life when 4 hours isn’t enough. It’s usually after a breakthrough.
It’s that moment when your future is crystal clear and you have a big goal to execute on. You’ve waited your entire life to do it and now you have the knowledge, skills, and time to pull it off. All you have to do is execute.
These are the moments when working 16 hours straight in a flow state is justified. I rarely do this and save this strategy for the magical moments.
Recently I had an idea for a new product. My wife and kid were out for the whole day. I sat down in a state of pure euphoria and worked on the idea.
The ideas just flowed out of me. The process felt effortless. I had the time of my life. Work felt like play.
During these moments it’s okay to work 16 hours straight and spit in the face of those who’ll scream “hustle culture.”
If I had to tell you how to find these strange moments in time when you do the best of your life, I’d say it’s normally when you’re obsessed.
Obsession predicts when a person will do the best work. That’s how you produce the greatest work of your life.