4 Mental Habits That Will Make You More Productive

#1: Self-compassion

Nick Wignall
10 min readSep 11


Photo by Anthony LE on Unsplash

In his classic book on peak performance, Timothy Gallwey wrote:

Neither mastery nor satisfaction can be found in the playing of any game without giving some attention to the relatively neglected skills of the inner game. This is the game that takes place in the mind of the player, and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. In short, it is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance.

In other words, you can learn all the best productivity frameworks, techniques, and strategies in the world, but if you’re at war with your own mind, you’ll always struggle to get things done.

Genuine productivity comes from training your mind and emotions to support your work, not more productivity hacks.

If you want to stop procrastinating and become more consistently productive, work to build these 4 mental habits.

1. Self-compassion

Nothing will kill your productivity faster than a habit of judgmentalness and self-criticism.

Unfortunately, most of us grow up learning that the only way to motivate yourself to get things done and be productive is to be hard on ourselves.

I call this the Drill Sergeant Theory of Motivation. Like the hard-ass drill sergeant hurling insults and put-downs at his new recruits in order to “make men out of them,” most of us learn that if we’re not tough on ourselves about our work, we’ll end up slacking off or not getting things done.

So, from a young age, we develop a nasty habit of negative self-talk around our work:

  • After getting an “A” on a test, you focus on the one question you missed and tell yourself, God, you’re such an idiot — how did you miss that one?!
  • While preparing for a big presentation at work, your mind constantly worries about all the negative reactions your boss and coworkers might have.
  • After thinking to yourself that you should pick up your old watercolor hobby, your mind immediately…



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com