Top Productivity Tips From Michael Phelps


“Don’t reinvent the wheel. Identify others’ best practices and do what they do.” That was some of the best advice I got as a management consultant, decades ago.




Even if you’re not a sports fan (and I’m typically not), you can benefit from adopting some of the practices of Michael Phelps – the world’s most decorated Olympic athlete.

Phelps is the American swimmer who has won more Olympic medals than anyone in history, and his 18 gold medals are more than all but 35 COUNTRIES have won since the games began.

See what happens to your personal productivity when you act like Mike:

1. Focus

Before every race, Michael is cocooned in his headphones, blocking out everything but his thoughts about his next swim.

When you have something to accomplish, do you focus on the task at hand, or do you check your email, answer the phone or turn on the TV?

2. Have a clear, inspiring goal.

Phelps did not just set out to win swimming races; his goal was to transform swimming itself. “I wanted to change the sport and take it to another level.”

When you have something you need to do, do you view it as a chore to endure, or as an opportunity to create something much, much more?

3. Practice.

It’s no surprise that an Olympic athlete practices. What shocked me about Michael is that he doesn’t jump out of bed excited to practice. Apparently, he had to be pretty much dragged to every one of his thousands of practice sessions.

Great lesson for all of us who have been waiting for divine inspiration to strike: you don’t have to enjoy it, but you do have to do it.

4. Make it fun.

This past year, Phelps began training with swimmer Allison Schmitt. He said that working out with Allison made training fun. (And she went on to win 5 Olympic medals, including 3 golds.)

How can you shake up your routine to make it more fun?

5. Work with a coach.

Phelps has been working with Bob Bowman for 16 years. Whenever you hear Phelps talk about his accomplishments, he says “We” and “Our”. Michael was the guy in the pool, but he attributes everything he’s achieved to his partnership with Bowman.

Are you trying to get things done all by yourself? Take a tip from Phelps and get help, encouragement and support and you’ll be amazed at what you can do.

GO Try It!

Get into the Olympic spirit and channel Michael Phelps the next time you need to get something done, whether it’s writing your zillionth weekly status report or clearing clutter from the coffee table.

And if you find you want some coaching and hands-on help in the process, get in touch!

Here’s to winning the gold in whatever you’re up to!

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