Do you struggle to get things done? Being highly productive is a skill that everyone should master. It’s not what a productive person does that sets them apart, but often the things highly productive people don’t do. Here’s a list of 12 things you shouldn’t do if you want to become highly productive.

1. They don’t waste time.

Wasting time is the antithesis of productivity. Productive people get things done. The first step to getting things done? Start doing it. Put down the phone, turn off the TV and close down the social networks. All those things can be done when the task at hand is complete. The best way to be a highly productive person is truly simple. Start a task. Finish a task. Don’t waste time before or during.

2. They don’t make excuses.

When something needs to get done, don’t let anything stand in the way. Obstacles are your responsibility to overcome. Plan for them, add cushion in the amount of time to account for them, but in the end, excuses are just obstacles you failed to account for. Learn to anticipate all the possible challenges you may encounter in a task and ensure you have a plan to overcome them. By taking responsibility for the challenges, you won’t need excuses.

3. They don’t forget deadlines.

Take pride in doing what you set out to do. Highly productive people understand everything they need to accomplish and when they need to accomplish each task by. No matter how small, each task that gets completed on time makes the next, more complex task more likely to completed in a timely manner. So set deadlines, write them down and knock them out. You’ll find you have much more time than you thought and get much more done.

4. They don’t expect help.

Highly productive people control each task and ensure that they have a plan and a back-up plan for each aspect. Depending on others, especially those who haven’t been fully vetted and proven, is one of the pitfalls that can drive a project timeline into the ground. While you will always need to depend on others and use the resources available to you to start at an optimal production level, it’s vital that you ensure that you give those resources ample time, needed motivation, and always have a drop date where you move to plan B. Take help where you can. But never expect it. Ensure that you keep control of your timelines, deadlines and quality, and you’ll be more productive in everything you do.

5. They don’t over-promise.

Productivity is about setting a goal and taking the steps needed to deliver on that goal. When you are over zealous with your goals or over aggressive with your timelines, you open the real possibility of failure. To remain highly productive, it’s paramount that you understand your strengths, weaknesses, and what you can accomplish in a given time. Know you can accomplish what you set out to and ensure you have a plan. By making a conscious effort to understand what you can do, you will minimize opportunities for failure and stay highly productive.

6. They don’t blame others.

Take pride in what you do and take responsibility for each task, project, and goal you accept. There will be problems, obstacles, and hurdles that you must overcome. The people you depend on may not live up to their end of the bargin. But remember that in the end, you are responsible. Don’t make someone else the scapegoat if you miss a deadline. Take responsibility and learn from the experience. Learn how to utilize your resources and ensure you have a plan if and when they fail. You’ll find that when you take responsibility, you will finish sooner, plan for the obstacles and learn how much to trust.

7. They don’t forget to plan.

Highly productive people know what they are going to do and have a plan to get there. No matter how hard you work, without a plan, you leave more opportunity for failure. Write down your to-do list daily and come up with a plan to accomplish it daily.

8. They don’t stay stagnant.

Highly productive people are always looking for ways to improve their processes. Reading LifeHack is a great start. Finding new, creative ways to accomplish tasks will help you become more productive. Always work to optimize your processes. The more time you save on the little things, the more time you have to finish the big stuff.

9. They don’t stop learning.

Highly successful people have a thirst for learning. Whether reading books, reading articles, taking classes or finding time for mentoring, a successful person will continually learn and become more educated. Keeping your mind sharp will help you solve problems, allowing you to stay more productive and better able to meet the challenges that you face on a daily basis.

10. They don’t back down.

You will run into problems, encounter obstacles and hit road blocks. Don’t back down! You have the tools to overcome even the toughest problems. Take them head-on, find a solution that fits your abilities and time frame, and start fixing it right away. You’ll learn that there’s nothing too big for you to overcome if you face it head-on.

11. They don’t let failure stop them.

You will fail. But failure is not a reason to stop, rather an incredible reason to move forward. Learn from your failures, find ways to overcome them, and never let them stop you. Even the most productive people fail. But it’s how you deal with failure that separate the truly highly productive people.

12. They don’t ignore the details.

Often times, when you boil it down, the difference between someone who is productive and unproductive is the details. It’s the small things that make the difference between getting projects done and failing to meet deadlines. Focus on the details and you’ll enjoy more success, and you can truly become a highly productive person.

Featured photo credit: Kris Krug via flickr.com

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