I’ll admit it: I haven’t always been the most productive person. There was a time in my life where bad habits took precedence in my life, and though I thought I was accomplishing a lot, it was actually more like one step forward, two steps backward. Though I was still doing well and achieving my goals, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t working to my full potential.
Luckily for me, very productive people, who had achieved great success, surrounded me. After spending some time observing my friend working one day, I noticed she was singularly focused and had habits that were very different from mine. I learned so much from her in just a few hours that it changed my habits entirely.
What I’m saying is, ridiculously productive people don’t get there by accident. They act purposefully in the way that they work in order to maximize every minute of every day. Try some of these habits of ridiculously productive people on for size, and I’m confident you’ll see your productivity soar.
1. Focus on one thing at a time.
Although multitasking seems like a great idea that will help you do more things at once, multitasking can actually limit your productivity and the quality of work you do. The most productive people put all of their time and energy into one task, usually the one item on their to-do list that will propel them forward into the most success.
2. Eliminate distractions.
Focusing on one task at a time won’t work if your phone is consistently interrupting you with personal texts or the latest ballgame scores, so productive people give themselves the gift of momentum by eliminating distractions from immediate surroundings. I love the night mode setting on my iPhone, which can be set up to allow phone calls from favorites - like my wife -- to ring through in case of emergency.
3. Anticipate future failures.
Incredibly productive people consider what their future self is going to need, and prepare in advance for that success. For example, do you set your coffee pot on a timer the night before, or pick up your dry cleaning before you need it? Thinking a few hours - even days -- ahead will make your future self less stressed and way more productive when you don’t have to waste time finding, fixing and doing things in the moment you need them.
4. Balance home and work.
The secret to real productivity is not focusing solely on work. Whether your job is your passion or not, balancing your personal relationships and downtime with office time is integral to being productive. Make time for family, friends, exercise and relaxation, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and keep yourself from burning out.
5. Check your inbox at set times.
Answering emails whenever they arrive is distracting and disjointing to your focus. Ridiculously productive people know that they won’t accomplish much if they’re at the beck and call of anyone or anything that needs their attention. Instead of constantly refreshing your inbox, check your email two or three times a day, maximum. Set an amount of time you have to answer, and sort those that need immediate attention and those that can wait.
6. Avoid meetings at all costs.
Most meetings have no clear objectives and are huge time wasters. Oftentimes, invited attendees aren’t needed and all of the information could be given in a few emails or a memo. If you must hold a meeting, establish an agenda beforehand, and designate a moderator, who can keep everyone on task. Otherwise, use one of the many collaboration apps now available, like Yammer, Podio, Basecamp or Asana.
7. Say “yes” sparingly.
Incredibly productive people know two things. One, time is at a premium. The more things they take on, the greater the chances that it is physically impossible to accomplish those things. Two, discretion is the better part of valor, meaning if you’re going to boldly strike forward, choosing your path with care is incredibly important. Don’t say “yes” out of fear that nothing else will come along, and say “no” often.
8. Delegate as much as possible.
Delegating is the twin sister to saying “yes” sparingly. Letting go of control and delegating efficiently is a huge trick of productive people. Sometimes you want to say “yes,” but you don’t have the time to follow through. Utilize one of the myriad of ways available to find someone to do the things you can’t physically do. From managing a team to picking up your dry cleaning, you don’t have to do it all yourself.
9. Nurture yourself with a morning routine.
The most productive people on the planet have a set morning routine that gets them ready for the day ahead: coffee, hot shower, yoga and journaling top the list, but it could be anything that sets your mind and body on a productive course for the day. Routines become habits, and good habits keep you healthy, energetic and ready for anything.