Kwik Brain 068
August 7, 2018     |   1187 VIEWS
Productivity VS. Effectiveness with Ari Meisel

Kwik Brain 068: Productivity VS. Effectiveness with Ari Meisel

"To be more effective, start by taking a hard look at how you’re spending your time and your money."
Ari Meisel

Ari Meisel is a best-selling author, CEO, real estate developer, green building expert, and productivity expert—as well as being Jim’s productivity coach! Ari is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.

Several years ago Ari encountered and overcame severe personal roadblocks, and his journey to overcome them transformed his life. His discoveries about personal and professional productivity have improved the lives of thousands of individuals and businesses.

Ari is the author of the best-selling book Less Doing, and the founder of the innovative Less Doing System, which is the foundation of his company Less Doing, which offers individuals and enterprises road-tested methods to optimize, automate and outsource their operations. Through his consulting work, Ari aims to teach others how to work smarter—not harder.

Connect with Ari: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Less Doing Book

This week’s podcast is all about productivity— and we welcome special guest Ari Meisel!

Modern life is so busy that we all feel like we’re continually hustling yet still falling behind. We all want more resources and advantage, especially to know the secrets of how to use our minds better to become more productive. 

A productivity expert, CEO and best-selling author who has built his career on teaching others how to work smarter—not harder—today’s guest Ari Meisel is here to tell us how we can all learn to be more effective in our daily lives and free up time for the more important things in life. 

So many of us have been taught that being productive is all-important, but the truth is that we should be thinking about how we can be more effective—that is, learning how to do more with the resources we already have, rather than burning out trying to produce more. Innovation never comes from having too many resources—it comes from restricting your resources, thinking innovatively about effectiveness and asking yourself: what’s a better way to do this? 

In today’s conversation, we talk about the difference between productivity and effectiveness, why the brain works better with constraints in place, why you should outsource your brain, and why you should take a hard look at how you are spending your time and money. If you love this episode, watch out for our upcoming second episode with Ari, where we’ll discuss the technology he uses to maintain his incredible levels of productivity.

Show Notes


  • We don’t necessarily want you to be more productive, but more effective
  • Productive: producing more—setting people up for the wrong goal.
  • Effective: producing more with the right things
  • Setting limits is one of the best ways to become more effective. True innovation will come from restricting time, money, and resources
  • Idea capture is about getting things out of our heads, so we’re not wasting working memory on those ideas, which allows us to take advantage of good ideas and avoid filling up the brain with bad ideas


  • Work expands to fill the time you log to complete it—if you only give yourself an hour to do it you’ll probably still get it done!
  • Freedom paradox: entrepreneurs always want freedom, but the problem with that is that the brain doesn’t like freedom, it prefers constraints and limitations, and being forced to be more effective with what it already has
  • It’s impossible to innovate with too many resources—e.g., the average American spends $173/week on food, so ask yourself what would I have to do if I were only to spend $100 a week? These type of questions force you to consider other options
  • Book mentioned: Zero to One by Peter Thiel


  • Ari never wants to be more than 20 seconds away from being able to get an idea out of his head, to free up space for other processes
  • Free your mind so you can do deep work—and assign a different time and place to work on an idea, which is a different process from imagining the idea
  • Ari uses Trello to organize his ideas


  • To be more effective, take a hard look at how you’re spending your time, your money and imagine: what if I had a tenth of this? What do I need to use? How can I use what I have to maximum effectiveness?

Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy

Episode 17: Breaking Bad Habits That Hold You Back with BJ Fogg

Episode 54: How To L.O.V.E. Your Brain

Episode 58: Burnout To Balance

Episode 59: Exponential Thinking with Naveen Jain


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