Unconventional Productivity Tips from Reddit [April 2021 edition]

Welcome to the new edition of the Productivity Tips found on Reddit series. If you want to see more Reddit productivity tips, check out these two posts:

productivity tips reddit

Favourite Productivity Tips from Reddit This Month

Tip #1: 5 truths about our desires.

Link to the original post.

  1. We’re never satisfied with what we have and always want more.

  2. We most desire what we do not or cannot have.

  3. Pursuit of a thing is more pleasing than the possession of it.

  4. Possession of a thing and familiarity with it tend to produce indifference or disgust.

  5. We mismeasure the value of what we have or don’t have by comparing it to our expectations or others’ possessions.

These rules helped me realize that there is always going to be the next desire. It will never stop (unfortunately). Since it will never stop, we better find a way to get used to the feeling. And since we’ll always have desires, there is no urgency to satisfy all of them immediately.

Tip #2: [Method] Pretend your life is a movie.

Link to the original post.

  1. I close my eyes

  2. Take a deep breath and pretend that I’m watching my life go by fast. I have kids, they grow up, leave the nest, i grow older, loss of pets, loss of parents, unexpected tragedies, healthy problems and then I’m on my death bed surrounded by my partner, kids and grandkids. I imagine my whole life flash before my eyes while I’m about to die.

  3. Then i slowly open my eyes and make myself believe that it all really happened and that i have somehow travelled back to my younger self’s body.

I know this sounds weird but if this was possible and you got a second chance at living your life you’d what would you do differently ?

This sounds like inventing the travel machine, doesn’t it? It’s really cool.

I find the idea of connecting your past, present, and future self very helpful. The concept of being grateful to my past self and caring for my future self has been the most helpful in creating and sticking to my schedule. It is truly the only thing that worked for me.

Tip #3: Realize that you’re currently in the good old days.

Link to the original post.

I have a habit of looking backwards in time and wishing I was in the good old days. When I was 20, I wished I could go back to my teens. When I was 30, I wished I could go back to when I was 20. I’m 35 now and I have a feeling when I am 40, I will wish for the life I have now.

So in short, there’s no time like the present. We don’t know how much time we have left so enjoy “the good old days” right now and make some memories.

I came to the same realization recently. I’ve moved a lot in the past 15 years. I’ve lived in many different cities, countries, even continents. Every time I move to a new place, I find myself being nostalgic about the old place I used to live in. And this would happen every single time. It made me realize that without a doubt at some point in the future I will feel a level of nostalgia about the place I am currently living in, so I better enjoy it to the fullest.

Tip #4: Surfing the internet is just watching other people live their lives while you stay unproductive.

Link to the original post.

Surfing the internet, watching video after video of people do their thing on YouTube or other platforms is just watching them live their lives and be productive, while I stay on my seat and stay unproductive.

Sometimes it helps to reframe how we look at things. I think the metaphors we live by play a big role. And changing these metaphors can change our behaviour. The current mainstream metaphor of surfing the internet is “staying informed”, “relaxing”, or “entertaining”. But what if we change it for “watching other people live their lives without living our own”? Makes you want to stop surfing, doesn’t it?

This Reddit post made me realize the importance of the metaphors or stories we attach to certain activities and how these impact our behaviours. A single metaphor can instantly make an activity unappealing.

Tip #5: Don’t turn your life into a never-ending productivity rut. 

Link to the original post.

I got my Covid shot and hoped I would feel bad just to have an excuse to take a break.

I’m at the point where I’m hoping to get sick just so I don’t feel guilty when I try to relax. I think only an illness or sickness would help me stop stressing about not doing anything, although I realize it’s so necessary to take breaks.

This Reddit post is definitely not a productivity tip or advice. However, I think it can help some of us to open up our eyes and see ourselves in a similar situation. I remember having times in my life where I would feel the same way.

I am intrigued by the idea of psychosomatics. This is when your body ‘creates’ illnesses to address your psychological distress. I know it’s a bit in the woo-woo realm of things but I’ve seen too many examples of it not to believe it.

I am a big advocate for setting goals in all areas of your life, not just work. And two thirds of my goals every month are oriented towards improving my health, key relationships, and the quality of my life in general (see more on this here). Once I implemented this new productivity system, I can honestly say that I don’t get seasonal cold/flu as often. I haven’t had a headache in a very long time even though I used to get them weekly back in the days. I don’t need to get sick to ease my psychological distress. I consciously choose to spend time on leisure, rest, hobbies, friendships, and my health. I don’t need to have an illness to have an excuse to stop working.

Another thing that truly transformed my Type A Personality tendencies is having a week ‘off’ at the end of every month. It doesn’t mean I don’t do anything during that week. It just means that I take a week off from actively pursuing my goals and being overly productive. I operate in maintenance mode. I still show up for my work. I still have a morning routine. I still clean, cook, and take care of the household chores. But there is no hustle, there is no push, there is no extra. I can’t even express how impactful it’s been. This monthly week off allows me to reflect, recharge, look at my life from a big picture, and select intentional goals for the next sprint.

I highly recommend taking breaks from productivity on a regular basis.

Tip #6: The “addition bias”.

Link to the original post.

Nature just published this fascinating research on a novel type of “addition bias”. In quite a creative experiment (using Lego) it was shown that people prefer solutions that add features to solutions than remove them, even (!) when removing features is more efficient, easy & helpful.


It confirms an intuition about a problem that I always saw when it comes to productivity.


– Spending on new stuff instead of decluttering what you have

– At work, add a new process, a new hire, a new initiative, a new meeting to solve a problem – instead of looking at what you can remove

– Adding more habits, tasks, processes, reminders to your to-do list etc. makes you less productive – and subtracting time killers makes you more productive

– More planning what to do instead of planning what not to do.

Science caught up on what we all knew on an intuitive level.

When it comes to productivity, we tend to look for ways to add more things, to squeeze another activity into our already packed schedules. What’s more difficult is to say noremove a task, cancel a meeting, decline an invitation.

A lot of people think that productivity is about doing more things. I think productivity is about creating enough time to do the right things. And it’s up to you to select those things based on your own core values.

Tip #7: Your high school ideas of what’s “cool” might be holding you back. 

Link to the original post.

I procrastinate because I believe someone would laugh at me for starting early.

I remember that I was a very diligent kid and enjoyed completing all my assignments long before the due date. This is what my mom taught me, to start early so that “that’s one worry less”. I remember that my classmates would laugh at me and other persons for doing so.

That’s why I changed. All of my high school experience was about how much I can cram the material all night before the exams, because I saw other people doing this and being successful. I didn’t want to be that diligent student, I wanted to be that student who study less and get good grades.

Isn’t it fascinating how our teenage years might still be controlling our lives? The ideas of what was cool in high school might still be affecting our choices. I applaud the author for being honest and digging deep into the reasons why he/she procrastinates.

What are some of the things you are still doing solely because they were cool back in the days but no longer serve you?

Tip #8: Pay yourself for being productive and control your shopping expenses.

Link to the original post.

To motivate me to run, I pay myself on a separate account. I send 1€ for each km I’ve run during the month. This money is used to buy things I would already buy, but in a more impulse buying way.

I have a list of non essential things I want to buy (headphones, a new running watch, etc.) and I wait to have enough on that account to buy it. It has two effects: it motivates me to go for a run, and to run a little bit more, and it prevents me from impulse purchase.

You can adapt it for anything, you can pay yourself for a minute of reading, or a page read, or for a chore… And you can adapt the amount to your budget.

Such a great way to combine controlled spending and productivity. I use the idea of product backlog to prevent impulse buying. But this is a great way to add a little extra motivation towards your trackable goals.


I found this amazing Activity List full of ideas on what to do in your free time instead of surfing the internet or watching TV/Netflix. Take a look! Many people I work with have a very difficult time having quality time off work. This is a good place to start brainstorming different activities you can do after work. Most of the activities listed are still doable in our COVID-restricted world.

If you liked this April collection of Reddit productivity tips, check out my previous collections:

Many of our readers come from Reddit. Reflecting back on our posts from April, these three posts got the most love from the community. Check them out in case you’ve missed them:

  1. Sprint Planning for Personal Productivity
  2. How to Create and Follow Your Schedule
  3. Why You Don’t Need Another Productivity App

If you prefer an audio format, please consider subscribing to the Monthly Method Podcast.



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