Productivity is a strange beast. It’s sometimes intangible and almost impossible to measure directly. At its core, productivity means getting more done in less time or doing it better or cheaper.

Dan S. Kennedy explains, “Productivity is the deliberate, strategic investment of your time, talent, intelligence, energy, resources, and opportunities in a manner calculated to move you measurably closer to meaningful goals.”

But what does that look like in practical terms? How can you be more productive? In other words — how can you get more done every day? These are the questions we ask ourselves from time to time, especially when we keep hitting roadblocks and hitting that same wall repeatedly.

Perhaps your latest attempt at boosting productivity fell flat because you didn’t have all the right tools or strategies. There’s no shortage of resources on how to be more productive at work, home, or wherever.

Productivity hacks usually involve some combination of the following ideas: measure your productivity, set alerts or alarms to stay on task, batch similar tasks together, create routines and habits to save time and energy, and track your progress over time.

We all want to be more productive, but how do you actually move the needle or make significant progress? Do you need an app to track your time? Should you use a notebook to capture ideas? Will setting alarms on your phone help you stay focused on essential tasks?

What combination of hacks can help us get things done? It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many ideas about productivity. But the truth is there is only one productivity piece of advice you need to succeed — do the work. In other words, enough of the productivity hacks: get to work and make real progress.

“Work means sitting down, getting through that calculus chapter, and doing the exercises. No amount of productivity hacking will make that easier,” says Slava Akhmechet.

Do the work is the foundational principle of Cal Newport’s book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” It requires grit to do the work. It is not glamorous or exciting. It has little to do with IQ and everything to do with committing to action daily. The only way forward is to take action.

Thomas Edison is right, “There is no substitute for hard work.” You can’t go from point A to point B unless you commit time to really work.

Want to become a better writer? Write consistently. Want to get fit? Do the work. You can only become a good artist if you practice. Find your true north and get to work. There’s no other to make progress.

Do more, optimize less

“It’s not knowing what to do, it’s doing what you know,” says Tony Robbins. You don’t need a new tool; you need commitment to action to be productive.

It’s easy to get caught up in the details of life and procrastinate on things that we know are important. But, the only way to truly accomplish something worthwhile is to make time to do it. When everything seems overwhelming, you must dig deep and remember that actions speak louder than words.

It’s not about having the perfect plan with every detail mapped out or investing in tools without getting to the necessary action to make progress. You just have to put in the work and trust that everything else will fall into place as long as you give your all and stay focused on what’s important.

Putting in the work is never easy. It’s often confusing, challenging, stressful, and can feel overwhelming. “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible, says Saint Francis of Assisi.

Everything else falls in place when you take action and do the work. When you show up with your best self each day and do the work, great things happen: opportunities appear where you didn’t even know they existed. People come into your life who have exactly what you need at that moment to bring out your potential.

You figure out exactly what you need to learn so that you’ll be ready the next time something similar comes along. Trust that when you show up with intention and do the work, productivity will improve: everything else optimizes itself. Never miss an opportunity for action. In the long run, the painful action habit fosters productivity and progress.

This article originally appeared in Medium.