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15 Things Insanely-Productive People Do Differently

15 Things Insanely-Productive People Do Differently

Productivity is not doing lots of stuff fast. You can do lots of stuff and get nowhere closer to your ideal. Most people are living their lives this way. They are burning themselves out running in a million different directions. Our society has become obsessed with constant doing. There’s little time left for being and living. Productivity is purposefully and consistently moving in a desired direction.

Insanely productive people have learned the two most important things every person needs to know in this life:

  • Who they are
  • What their purpose (path) in life is

And that’s where we begin:

1. They Know Who They Are And Who They Want To Be

Productivity is a sexy topic lately because most people are radically confused about who they are. As a result, they want a quick scheme to the world’s definition of success. They’ve yet to define success for themselves. They want it all laid out for them. They want a to-do list. They believe that doing lots of stuff will get them what they want. Maybe it will impress other people? Maybe it will get them ahead of the competition? But who really is the competition? That’s the problem.

Most people are still competing with other people. They are trying to fit in. They’re trying to be perceived as awesome. In truth, they’re profoundly insecure. They’re caught in an endless identity crisis – going from one thing to the next. Whatever is popular at the time – the illusive quest for acceptance—the lack of depth and commitment. And that’s the difference. Non-productive people seek security externally. They seek security in a paycheck, or in friends, or in perceived success. Rather than experiencing security, in reality, they are the slaves to these things. They will do anything to have these things. They are not free.

However, insanely productive people know that security can only really be experienced internally. They know who they are. So they don’t worry about all these traps that sabotage and slow the masses. They fully accept and understand themselves – and that’s good enough for them. No external standard of success will ever compare to their own self-awareness and acceptance.

Beyond knowing who they are, they know who they are going to become. They’re not going to be tossed off course by the next big thing. Until you know who are you, you will never be insanely productive. It doesn’t matter how much you “accomplish” in your life if it’s not the life you really wanted to live – the life you were meant to live.

Insanely productive people have moved well beyond that. Their evolution has opened within them the space to do what only they can do. Every person on this planet is a unique individual with a unique opportunity to serve and give in their own personal way. You can’t do that work until you know who you are.

2. They Know Where They Want To Go

 “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” “I don’t much care where –” “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Like point one, most people want to be told where to go. They want to be told who to be. They don’t really care where it is – so long as it seems awesome to everyone else. This sidetracks people all the time. Rather than doing what they genuinely love, they take the job that offers the most money, prestige, or accolades. They spend decades of their lives on the wrong path.

At some point or another, they have their identity crisis and realize they have no idea what they really want in life. They have no idea where they are going. However, insanely productive people are purposeful about where they intend to end up. Every day of their lives is spent building toward their highest ideal. The things on their to-do lists actually make cohesive sense.

The truth is, insanely productive people aren’t moving any faster than the rest. More often, they are moving slower. The difference is, unlike the norm, insanely productive people are moving in one direction. Five steps in one directions seems like a lot to the person who has moved one step in five directions.

3. They Let Go Of The Need For A Specific Result

Jeremy Piven, the famous actor, was recently interviewed by Success Magazine. During the interview, he mentioned that, as an actor, the only way to work is to go out and audition for specific roles. The challenge most actors/actresses face is that they get in their own way. It doesn’t matter how much homework they’ve done. If they’re too tied to a specific result, they can’t be present in the moment. They can’t truly perform their art. They come off as desperate. They get in their own way. Their performance isn’t what it could have been.

Jeremy said that when he quit worrying about a specific result, he was able to be present during his auditions. He was able to be completely who he wanted to be. He wasn’t trying to be what he thought others wanted him to be. He performed his art. If he didn’t get the gig, either they didn’t get it or it just wasn’t the right fit. So he moves on to the next. In this way, he’s able to get the jobs he’s supposed to have. He’s not just trying to get anything he can get.

Insanely productive people are the same way. They are raw and real. They are present and perform on their highest level because they aren’t dependent on a particular outcome. They have an innate trust that everything will work out for them if they’re authentic. They trust in the universe – their higher power – to take them where they need to go.

4. They Don’t Care What Other People Are Doing

Most people spend the majority of their time watching and observing other people. The goal is to emulate and copy, or to compare and compete. This highlights an utter lack of achieved identity – an emotional and spiritual immaturity.

On the other hand, insanely productive people spend very little if any of their time worrying about what other people, “their competition,” are doing. They see this as a distraction from their work. They put their heads down and execute. Gary Vaynerchuck, perhaps one of the most productive people on earth, says he doesn’t have time to read other people’s stuff. He’s too busy creating his own content.

5. They Don’t Care What Other People Think

“What people think of you is none of your business.” – Amy Hatvany

The majority of the population lives in absolute fear about what other people think of them. They try to be perfect. They try to be liked. They are unwilling to be vulnerable. To be real and truthful.

Insanely productive people put themselves completely out there. They are doing their work for themselves and for the people it was intended for. Anyone outside their target audience doesn’t exist to them. Haters and critics are flowers, not darts.

6. But They Care Intensely About Those They Serve

Despite caring very little about what other people think, insanely productive people care fiercely about other people. They have a love for humanity that is nothing short of divine. Every person has infinite potential in their worldview. When they look at another person, they see a person – not an object. They feel. Like really feel. It’s not a staged act.

Insanely productive people are incredibly empathetic. They relate with people on their level. They’re relevant and connect. They influence with their love. Those they serve can feel it and they’re changed.

7. Their Work Is Their Art – It’s Highly Personal

Insanely productive people don’t have jobs. They are artists – even if accountants, bankers, or lawyers. The work they do is everything they are. They give completely to their work. It’s emotional labor. When they finish, there’s nothing left. If it isn’t meaningful, they don’t do it. To do so doesn’t make sense to them.

If they can’t feel it deep when they are working, they are not working. They’re not living. They’re not in the zone. And they seek that zone. That’s when art and magic happens. Everything in their life is set up to create that space. This is why they were born.

8. They Don’t Need Permission

Most people wait. They believe they can start after they have enough time, money, connections, and credentials. They wait until they feel “secure.” Not insanely productive people.

Insanely productive people started last year. They started five years ago before they even knew what they were doing. They started before they had any money. They started before they had all the answers. They started when no one else believed in them. The only permission they needed was the voice inside them prompting them to move forward. And they moved.

9. They Learn Through Doing

Theory can only take a person so far. Putting yourself out there and falling flat on your face, over, and over, and over is how insanely productive people learn. Rather than having meetings and discussions, they go out and practice. While most people are reading, thinking, and dreaming, insanely productive people are out doing. The goal is to learn while creating output. Non-productive people on the other hand have a lopsided ratio of input and output – with very little of the latter.

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10. They Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously

Insanely productive people have an ease about life. Everything is going to be okay. They allow themselves to laugh and to feel and to love. They don’t overthink themselves. They don’t define themselves by their achievements.

They laugh at themselves when they make blunders. They’re okay with the fact that they’re not perfect. They embrace their humanity. They genuinely like themselves as a human being. They don’t crucify themselves at every mistake. They give themselves the benefit of the doubt.

11. They Can Enjoy Where They Presently Are On The Path

“When someone says: “So what’s next?” As in, “how are you going to top that?” You don’t have to have an answer. The answer can be: “This.” Your life doesn’t have to be about impressing other people or a successive series of achievements.”- Ryan Holiday

Insanely productive people find joy in the journey. They aren’t always waiting for that next chapter in life. They are happy with where they are. They are alive. Non-productive people wait for contentment until after they graduate from college, or get that promotion, or retire. All the while, their life passed them by and they never really experienced the moment.

12. They Ask For Help

“Rainmakers generate revenue by making asks. They ask for donations. They ask for contracts. They ask for deals. They ask for opportunities. They ask to meet with leaders or speak to them over the phone. They ask for publicity. They come up with ideas and ask for a few minutes of your time to pitch it. They ask for help. Don’t let rainmaking deter you from your dream. It’s one of the barriers to entry, and you can overcome it. Once you taste the sweet victory of a positive response, you’ll not only become comfortable with it, you might even enjoy it. But making asks is the only way to bring your dream to life.” – Ben Arment

Insanely productive people know they don’t have all the answers. They aren’t afraid to ask for directions when lost. They aren’t too proud to say when they’re having a hard time.

Amanda Palmer is a famous musician. Her career is based on making asks. She left her record label so she could give her music away for free. She had enough trust in her fans and followers to ask them for help in exchange for the value she provided them. She launched a Kickstarter and made well over a million dollars. She couchsurfs all over the world. Her fans bring her food.

All she does is ask. She asks because she has courage. She asks because she has trust. She asks because she wants to be vulnerable with her tribe. They give generously because they have been the generous recipients of her gifts.

13. They Drop What’s Not Working

“Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new.” – Seth Godin

Insanely productive people understand the concept of sunk cost. When something isn’t working, they drop it and move on. They don’t continue putting resources into a burning ship.

14. They Think Laterally Rather Than Vertically

“Lateral thinking doesn’t replace hard work; it eliminates unnecessary cycles.” – Shane Snow

Most of the United States Presidents spent less time in politics than the average congressman. Moreover, the best, and most popular Presidents, generally spent the least amount of time in politics. Rather than spending decades climbing the tedious ladder with glass ceilings, they simply jumped laterally from a different, non-political ladder.

Ronald Reagan was an actor. Dwight Eisenhower laterally shifted from the military. Woodrow Wilson bounced over from academia. These men spent considerably little time in politics and became fabulous Presidents. They reached the top by skipping the unnecessary “dues-paying” steps. Insanely productive people think the same way. Rather than climbing up ladders the traditional ways, they think of alternative routes. They skip unnecessary steps by pivoting and shifting

15. They Constantly Prune Their Lives

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” – Greg McKeown

Last but certainly not least—insanely productive people continuously “clean their closet.” They live minimally. When life starts getting too busy, they step back and remove what is unneeded. Rather than adding more to their life, they say, “no” to almost everything. If they’ve made non-essential commitments in their future, they cancel those superfluous appointments. Their lives are simple and to the point.

Featured photo credit: Suit Tie Guy/Ben Rosett via stocksnap.io

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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