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Productivity VS. Effectiveness with 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.

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

Ari Meisel

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  • 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 your head, so you’re not wasting working memory on those ideas, which allows you 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?


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