Mark Zuckerberg's top three productivity hacks

3 Minute Read | Author: Fairfax

1 Don’t waste your willpower

Zuckerberg’s famed habit of wearing an identical grey T-shirt and hoodie almost every day isn’t a style statement. It’s the most visible aspect of his fundamental working philosophy: minimalism.

The entrepreneur has admitted to having sparsely furnished living spaces, and he drives a modest car. The motivation? Conserving mental energy for his main mission: Facebook.

“I really want to clear my life so I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” he told the audience at a Facebook public forum.

“There’s a bunch of psychology theory that even making small decisions about what you wear and what you eat for breakfast, they make you tired and consume your energy,” he added. “I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”

The theory he’s referring to identifies decision fatigue, a phenomenon studied extensively by social psychologists. Their studies have shown that willpower is finite, and if the brain is too bombarded by choice, its decision-making capabilities become diminished.

Zuckerberg knows that sweating the small decisions can jeopardise his major judgment calls. Hence the wardrobes filled with that ubiquitous grey tee.

2 Just do it

It’s another company’s motto, but this ethos has powered Zuckerberg all the way to number six on Forbes magazine's list of the world’s wealthiest individuals.

He believes that simply getting started is the key to maximum productivity – even if you tackle the easy parts first. "I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress," he’s said.

Once you’ve gained momentum, then you just need to keep plowing on. And this, says Zuckerberg, requires ‘grit’. “A lot of what makes an organisation or an individual effective is the ability just to power through the stuff that sucks. Building a company, most things do not go your way. Almost every day there are crazy things that come up from all angles.”

3 Set goals – and share them

Mark Zuckerberg understands that personal discipline is a muscle that needs to be trained, and to that end he sets himself a challenge every year. His latest was to build and code his own AI home butler called Jarvis. In previous years, he’s learned Mandarin, run 365 miles, read a book every two weeks and sent a thank you note each day.

The rigorous self-management and focus required for achieving these goals is a key productivity tool; studies on wealthy and successful individuals have found that the majority of high achievers constantly set specific goals for themselves.

But one of the reasons he usually succeeds in his relentless self-improvement program is that Zuckerberg shares each challenge with his millions of followers. Research has shown that a person’s success rate with tough goals is much higher when the goals are made public. Having an audience makes you more accountable – and accountability boosts your performance.