Achieving Productivity: The Principles Behind Self-Motivation and Success

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Are you suffering from chronic disengagement? You’re not alone. From students to career professionals, people from all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds seem to be afflicted by a profound lack of motivation. Although you could blame this widespread dissatisfaction on a variety of contributory factors, from inept management to poor compensation and shoddy organizational cultures, there’s one idea which unites them all: control.


The Locus of Control

All too often we feel as if we have little to no control over our actions and our environments. Yet, as human beings we need to believe that the decisions we make can truly affect the direction of our lives; otherwise what’s the point of doing anything?

This aspect of our psychology is demonstrated in a concept known as the locus of control. According to this theory, those people who possess a strong internal locus of control believe that the focus and force of their willpower and attitudes are completely self-directed, whereas those with a weak internal locus believe that their behaviors are solely defined by their circumstances.  Unsurprisingly, individuals who fall into the former group have better academic results, more satisfying professional careers and a more positive outlook on life compared to the latter group.


Taking Back Control with Time Book

At The Expat Money Show we’re all about inspiring personal development with proven strategies. Through our interviews with entrepreneurs and thought leaders across a variety of industries, we hope to offer our listeners a comprehensive view of what it means to be successful. While each of our guests have provided listeners tools for personal transformation, few of them have managed to codify their values into a system as effective as Mihkel Sepp’s.

Mihkel Sepp is the creator of an all-in-one productivity planner called Time Book. Time Book provides individuals with a personalized route to maximizing productivity. With the professional insights, educational updates, self-assessment tools and workbook modules offered throughout this unique book, even the most disengaged person can set themselves up to retake control of their lives.

While our conversation with Mihkel Sepp touched upon everything from patriotism to social work, our conversation always circled back to the idea of creating productivity. Here are some key takeaways.


Focus on Only One Thing

Multitasking might seem like a great skill to add on a resume, but in truth working on several different projects at once only decreases your overall efficiency. Research shows that switching between multiple incomplete tasks takes a hefty toll on speed and performance outputs.

So streamline your daily tasks, and don’t commit yourself to projects that will take you further away from your primary objectives. Instead, prioritize your goals and mark out the largest part of your day for your most pressing work, dedicating your time in this manner should make the rest of your work much easier in turn.



To some extent the phrase “if you want to do something right, then do it yourself” has seeped into every aspect of our working culture. Time and time again you see people in leadership positions attempt to manage every aspect of their businesses on their own. Unbeknownst to them, this refusal to relinquish power actually hurts productivity significantly. By forcing your team to wait on your input or approval for every task, you function as a bottleneck to efficient execution.

Take a step back, and identify people within your organization that you trust to provide key competencies, or vital knowledge. Distribute decision making power, responsibility and workloads to these people and set clear expectations for your desired objectives. Then, let go.


Apply Pressure

Here’s a statistic you might not expect to hear, research from the University of Virginia shows that teenagers who are susceptible to peer pressure actually turn out better than their more detached counterparts.

According to the study, young adults who are mindful of the social influences of their peers tend to be more socially adept and engaged. The pressure these individuals feel to fit in at school, translates to a corresponding need to excel in the eyes of teachers, managers and other influential parties. Meanwhile, teenagers who can easily shrug off these expectations are unlikely to feel the need to excel in other areas of their life.

So if you’re not feeling the pressure to perform in your daily life, then it’s time to surround yourself with people who make you want to be better.

Identify who the top performers are in your industry of choice, and find out where they congregate; whether it’s at industry events or on a specific social media group. Join as many of these groups as possible, and make not of their working habits. If you’re able to actually connect with these people even better, just don’t go into a meeting blind. Make sure to have an agenda set out with key questions that can aid you in your personal development.


Take the Time to Read

From Elon Musk, to Bill Gates and Warren Buffer the most successful people in the world attribute their success to the written word. Although setting aside vital productive hours for a sedentary activity might seem counter-productive it might actually be the most important investment you ever make. After all, if the average CEO working 60-70 hours a week can polish off 5 books a month, then you have no excuse.

A daily reading habit is a vital source for inspiration, ideas and further learning.  Look at any successful person, and you’ll find that they’re never content to rest on their accomplishments. They are always looking forward to the next big thing. How do you find out what the next big thing is if you’ve spent months wrapped up in one project? You do it through reading.


Just Do It

It’s easy to fall into a feel-good feedback loop, where you read a ton of self-development texts and start to feel like you’re already halfway down the path to success. While visualization is definitely a helpful tool for already motivated individuals, for disengaged parties, positive fantasies can actually trick their brains into believing that they’ve already achieved the task at hand.

Unfortunately, there’s no mental trick to getting the job started, you just have to do it. Instead of spending time planning, jump right into a pressing task as soon as it arises and deal with the obstacles as they come up. It’s the same strategy which Jeff Bezos uses to achieve his goals. Bezos starts by identifying the customer needs that his company has to address, then he works backwards to gain the skills and resources necessary to achieve them.

Set big goals, you might surprise yourself.


Listen To Our Full Conversation with Mihkel Sepp

To hear more about Mihkel Sepp’s innovative approach to productivity and self-motivation, tune in to our full interview by clicking here.   

And make sure you are subscribed below to get the best tips for increasing your own income as an Expat.





About The Host, Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup; the host of The Expat Money Show, has 20+ years in continual travel around the world, visiting more than 100 countries including Colombia, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Iran.

His goal now is to help Expats just like you to generate additional streams of income, eliminate your tax bill, and take advantage of offshore structures so you can travel the world freely and never have to worry about money again.

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