We all get 24 hours in a day. Yet some people seem to accomplish so much more. Its because they know how to optimize their day for better performance. There are seven things the most productive people see differently.
1. They see the long term effect of every little thing they do through the day.
Daily routines and habits are important. It’s been proven that we have more willpower in the morning or as soon as we wake up. Every little decision you make from the time you wake up to when you go to bed will deplete the amount of willpower you have. Productive people have an investor’s mindset with almost every action they take.
Just take a look at how Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg almost wear the same shirts everyday. They know better than to waste their willpower and time on deciding what clothing to wear. They know it won’t matter in the long term.
President Obama said “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Focus on the things that will actually help you in the long term as soon as possible. Which brings us to our next point.
2. They see the hardest tasks as top priority.
They know their willpower is at it’s highest as soon as they wake up and they use that to their advantage by tackling the toughest tasks first. Productive people also know that putting off the hardest things for last will become a habit and carry over to other areas of their life.
As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe puts it “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least”.
Don’t do the easy things first. Save the easy tasks for last when your willpower has gone down and you are tired.
3. They see learning how to learn as an important skill to master.
The most productive people know that continual learning is important for their own personal success.
Benjamin Franklin said “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”.
Highly productive people take learning a step further and implement memorization techniques to help them retain more information, speed read, and they use the Pareto 80/20 principle to their advantage. For example when reading a book, read the table of contents, the back cover of the book, the beginning, the end, and whatever parts in between that sound interesting. It’s been said that one should never read a book from cover to cover unless they enjoy it.
The 80/20 principle can be applied to your schedule and your income as well. Use this to your advantage and put more focus on the 20% of things that generate 80% of the results. Also, read books about how to learn faster and apply what you learn.
4. They see technology as a tool.
Tim Ferriss wrote “Get on a strict low-information diet and focus on output instead of input; your wallet and weekends will thank you for it”.
Many of us today simply let technology distract and control us. We let the funny viral videos on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram suck away massive amounts of our time. We let our phones constantly steal away our attention with emails and text messages. They are all time drainers. Stop checking your news feeds. Turn off the television. Set up an email auto-responder. Choose specific times to check email and other messages so they won’t steal your focus away at random times of the day.
5. They see even the worst days as days to make the right choices.
In his book, On Writing, Stephen King said “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work”.
Productive people find ways to get their work done regardless of whether they feel like doing it or their circumstances. The process of getting where you want to be or finishing work will not always be smooth sailing. Highly productive people stay focused on the long term result and not on short term relief.
They know that everything we do either brings us closer to our goals or farther away from them.By law if you are not moving in one direction you must be moving in another. Work to acquire the self-discipline to persevere and stay focused even in the worst of times.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it “Do the thing and you will have the power”.
Consistent good habits are one of the most important things that separate productive people from procrastinators. Produce good results, not excuses.
6. They see the value in getting help from other people.
Highly productive people don’t waste time doing things they could get someone else to do. Bill Gates said he never did anything alone.
Neil deGrasse Tyson said “I have a personal philosophy in life: If somebody else can do something that I’m doing, they should do it. And what I want to do is find things that would represent a unique contribution to the world – the contribution that only I, and my portfolio of talents, can make happen. Those are my priorities in life.”
This one definitely applies to entrepreneurs and business owners. You can’t do everything yourself. Put as much focus as you can on the high priority tasks that generate the most results.
7. They see the benefits of daily meditation and routine breaks.
Jon Kabat-Zinn said “Most people don’t realize that the mind constantly chatters. And yet, that chatter winds up being the force that drives us much of the day in terms of what we do, what we react to, and how we feel”.
When we practice meditation and mindfulness, we are actually becoming aware of this chatter and stilling our minds.
Lao Tzu said “If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place”.
Even though mindfulness originated in Buddhism, it has little or nothing to do with religion. The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are grounded in science. Daily meditation practice can help us stay focused longer and therefore allow us to get more done. Being a workaholic and trying to plow through work with no breaks actually makes you less productive and is bad for your health in a multitude of ways.
You may think you are too busy to meditate, but that is all the more reason to start doing it. Sit down somewhere comfortable, close your eyes, get into a rhythm of breathing, and focus on the feeling of the air entering and leaving your body for about 10 to 20 minutes. This will relax you, reduce stress, quiet your mind, and will eventually make you an overall more productive person. Practice meditation everyday.