7 Habits of Productive People
Let’s face it, we all want to be the kick-ass superhero in the office who meets their targets each month, comes up with ‘out-of-this-world’ campaign ideas and executes them with time to spare. How do they do it? With the help of a great magic power called productivity.
In a world where there never seems to be enough hours in the day, we need to burst the all too familiar bubble of “I’m too busy” and re-examine how we can get the most out of our days. Here’s our round up of the seven habits that productive people seem to get just right.
1. Plan, Plan & Then Plan Some More.
One of my favourite quotes is, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot”. The way I see it is, YOU are the pilot of this time machine, so let’s ride it right. Start off by scheduling your time and knowing how long things take because being able to timetable your day correctly is the number one trick any productive person has up their sleeve. Even if it takes the first 30 mins of your Monday to plan your week, it will save you several hours in the long run.
Another thing to remember is to track your actual time. It’s the only way to understand how you spend your time and by doing this on a daily basis you’ll realise when you are most productive. If you’re laser sharp in the morning, make sure you do the most important work during the AM hours. There’s no harm in admitting you’re more productive during certain times of the day but to not admit it and not make use of it…big mistake!
2. Focus on One Task at a Time
Multitasking is overrated. It’s been proven over and over again to not be productive in the slightest, so don’t do it. People who want to appear busy tend to multitask. People who truly are productive are much more focused. To take this to the next level, give daily tasks a designated time. For instance, only check emails at designated time slots; having your email open and accessible all day is distracting and you will find you have no time for anything else.
3. Disconnect from the Outside World.
Never-ending social media messages, friends’ precious Facebook status updates and casual office chatter are not only here to stay but also one of the biggest time wasters of our workday. That’s why we need to make a conscious effort to shut them out. Quite simply, disconnect from everything social. Let it be your phone, Twitter or an internal messaging system, you don’t need them 24/7. Out of sight out of mind.
If office chatter is still an obstacle to your superhero productivity, you need to find a way to zone out. The best way to get into a super work mode where things roll as smooth as butter, is to block your surroundings, whether it’s by finding a quiet corner in the office or simply wearing headphones. If all else fails, play hard to get. This is not a silly dating ritual, but simply eliminating the ways other people can reach you. It might seem a bit of a harsh tactic, but if it’s something really important or urgent, people will find a way to reach you.
4. Take a Break
Remember to take a proper break. If we don’t take real breaks we will end up taking fake ones and the fake breaks are the beginning of a very unproductive day. Several studies show that regular breaks improve your focus and it’s easier to be productive with a fresh, healthy mind-set.
However, don’t take too many breaks. Contradicting, I know, but not only will your manager start to question your bladder functionality if you take a “toilet break” every 30 mins, but also, it simply isn’t productive to have you brain focus and refocus in such short intervals. If you find yourself regularly doing this you must change the habit immediately, failing that, see a doctor for a bladder check.
5. Set Your Own Daily Goals.
Self-motivation is the best kind of motivation, linking to our productivity in a monumentally direct way. Steve Jobs used to ask himself “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” Now, I’m sure most of us would want to be travelling the world or having a meal with family or friends, but we must be realistic. Be ruthless in assigning yourself tasks, only taking on what’s essential or meaningful. If in doubt employ the Eisenhower Matrix (see righthand side) to help you prioritise. Then set yourself the goal to complete ‘x’ amount of tasks from the top left, etc. This will give you 100% clarity on what needs to be done and when, as a result.
6. Learn How to Say ‘No Thank-You’.
“No” is a powerful word and productive people aren’t afraid to say it. Most of us are either people pleasers, want to help everyone or don’t want to seem rude. It’s time to rethink that yes-man strategy because sometimes it’s better to say no and evaluate what you need to do and what you want to do. Whether it’s a task being asked by a colleague, a request from a client or a social event, think if it’s really worth your time and efficient in the long run. Sometimes it will be, other times it won’t. On the latter occasions, learn to say a polite no – both no and polite being the key words here.
7. Be Productive, Not Busy.
As a last note, a reminder of something you run into every day, everywhere and with everyone. That there’s difference between being busy and being productive. If you’re always busy, how productive are you actually being? Busy people talk about how busy they are. Productive people let their results do the talking!