Life is constantly throwing up hurdles that threaten our productivity. No matter who you are, at some point you’ve felt stressed, overworked, unappreciated or heartbroken. But what could a group of ancient Greek philosophers possibly have to say that will help with these problems? A whole lot, as it turns out. The wisdom of the Stoics has been drawn upon for years by everyone from Bill Clinton to Arnold Schwarzenegger. And it’s high time the rest of us took notice. And started getting things done.


 Discover what this stoicism thing is all about

Stoicism is a philosophy forged in third century Athens that’s based on a pragmatic way of addressing life’s challenges. The clever main concept is that we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. Judging yourself only on things you can directly affect is a stoic’s shortcut to happiness. While blocking out pressures from the people around you and ignoring life’s constant distractions will help you hone in on what’s important. In this vein, it also helps to acknowledge that you have a limited attention span (hey, you’re only human). That means tasks are best approached on a one-by-one basis.


 Don’t sweat the things you can’t control

Try to separate the things in life that are under your control, from the things that aren’t. Most of the goals we aim to achieve rely on other people as much as our own abilities and efforts. It’s easy to get upset when things don’t go according to plan. Perhaps you were passed over for a promotion at work, or the love of your life has up and left. Stoicism helps put these things in perspective so you can handle the situation and move on. Then, you’ll be free to devote all that time and energy elsewhere.


 Create your own North Star

A straight forward objective (also known as a North Star in stoic speak) can help block out the unimportant stuff and keep you focused on achieving the things that matter most. It could be about productivity, for instance, ‘Write a to-do list every morning’. Or, it could equally be something loftier, like ‘Do one good thing for someone else every day’. Then select your task, visualise the process you need to complete it and go on and get it done. Your success shouldn’t be measured on the outcome, but rather by how much effort you put into it. It really is that simple.


 Intrigued? Find out more:

Here are a few of our favourite books, podcasts and articles on stoicism.



Make a handy list of tasks to do for the day. Focusing on doing things one at a time will help you be far more productive.

Go for an early morning walk. Starting the day with a bit of time to put things in perspective will help you to focus on exactly what you want to achieve.

Incorporate a light bodyweight exercise routine into your day. Exercise is a proven stress-reducer, and it’ll help free you from the anxieties that can get in the way of getting things done.