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7 Things Successful People Do Every Day to Stay Productive

7 Things Successful People Do Every Day to Stay Productive
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Do you have a productivity problem?

You know; you procrastinate, you’re unfocused, and you quit on your goals.

At the same time, to become successful, you need to figure out how to become productive.

Fortunately, others are leading the way. Successful people like entrepreneurs, top politicians, and other thought leaders have figured out how they should manage their time to achieve what they set out to do.

So how do you move forward on your goals? Read on to learn what successful people do every day to stay productive.

1. They love what they do

Do you think people like Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton or Elon Musk would be where they are today if they didn’t truly enjoy what they do?

Probably not.

It’s incredibly hard to push through if all you can think about is how boring or meaningless a task is.

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In fact, research shows that employees are 12% more productive if they’re happy. This goes to show that work satisfaction does have a huge effect on how productive you are.

2. They wake up early

People who’re productive tend to get up early in the morning. Take Benjamin Franklin, Richard Branson, or Barack Obama. They all had or have a habit of rising early.

It’s evident that getting up in the wee hours is good for your productivity. The reason is simple: you usually have more energy and self-control right after you wake up.

But how do you ensure a productive morning?

Easy, develop a morning routine.

This could be a quick 15-minute exercise session. Or it could simply be a shower, stretching or a cup of coffee.

3. They work less, not more

In this day and age, business is a badge of honor. The busier you are, the better.

While it might intuitively feel like you get more done if you work more, the reverse is true. You get more done by working less.

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According to a famous study by K. A. Erickson, elite performers rarely work for more than 4.5 hours a day.

They batch their tasks into 90-minute sessions. Between these sessions, they have 20-30-minute pauses. This way, they can focus solely on the task at hand, instead of becoming tired and unfocused.

So start tracking the amount of time you spend on your tasks. Start with your most important work in the morning, work in sessions and leave all tasks that don’t require much willpower or focus to the afternoon.

4. They take care of themselves

In the same sense that we glorify business, we tend to assume that successful people don’t take care of themselves.

But the opposite is true!

One of the main reasons successful people are so productive is that they take care of themselves. They know that the key to productivity and success is to keep everything from your health to your finances in check.

For example, exercise has a massive impact on your productivity and financial stress makes it almost impossible to function in a productive way.

So make sure to first take care of yourself and only then focus on being productive and successful.

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5. They keep track of their goals

Successful people don’t work aimlessly on a project. Instead, they set goals and work systematically to achieve them.

Instead of having vague goals that they might achieve in the future, they sit down and plan goals for the day, week, month, year and beyond. Once they have their goals figured out, they come back to their goals on a regular basis.

You should do the same. Start today by listing goals you want to achieve tomorrow, next week, next month, in a year and in 5 years. Then keep track of them as you move forward.

6. They don’t multitask

Successful people master the art of focus. One way of doing that is to never multitask.

Studies show that your brain gets overwhelmed when you’re working on multiple tasks at the same time. Instead of focusing on one task, it divides its attention between all the tasks.

This is a major problem in our digital age.

In fact, a study by the University of London shows that your IQ suffers more if you multitask than if you smoke marijuana.

Want to be productive? Focus only on the task at hand.

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7. They see the big picture

It’s easy to get stuck on details. But too much focus on the details means that you lose sight of the big picture.

Successful people know this to be true. Take Jason Fried. He admits that details are important, but getting stuck means that you lose momentum. You become de-motivated and you quit.

Instead, you need to ship early. Focus first on the big picture and only later on the details.

Over to You!

We’ve looked at 7 things successful people do every way to stay productive.

Now there’s just one more thing to do:

Apply what you’ve learned!

Take a few minutes to brainstorm how you can become more productive with these tips.

Successful people use them every day. If you want to achieve your goals, you should too!

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Featured photo credit: Dan Cooper via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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