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10 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do

10 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do

Highly productive people know the art of getting things done — give them any deadline and they will get it completed before you even ask about it. To increase your productivity and get more out of your days, watch out for these 10 things that highly productive people don’t do:

1. They aren’t e-mail warriors

Highly productive people aren’t e-mail warriors. They don’t spend hours every day buried in their inbox, replying to email after email. They recognize that e-mail is simply a correspondence tool, and they spend minimal time managing their inbox so that they can get to the more important work — as opposed to e-mailing as an end to itself.

The truth is that unless you’re in customer service or doing secretarial work, there’s little reason to spend too much time in e-mail. That’s because your job performance isn’t measured by the number of e-mails you send — it’s likely measured by some tangible output (e.g., number of sales closed for a sales person, amount of savings achieved for someone in procurement, engagement statistics for a social media manager) while e-mail is merely a tool to help you achieve that. Think about what you’re assessed on for your job, and work with this end in mind instead.

Watch: 3 Simple Tips To Achieve Inbox Zero

2. They don’t procrastinate

Do you procrastinate? Highly productive people don’t wait till the last minute before they get things done. Rather, they evaluate their to-dos daily, identify their upcoming deadlines, and clear them quickly such that they don’t have to deal with those deadlines later. Doing things at the last minute only gives them stress, causes late nights, and disrupts their schedule the next day, so they know better than to do that.

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If you procrastinate, here are 11 practical ways to stop procrastination.

3. They don’t check Facebook/Twitter 20 times a day

Highly productive people don’t let social media rule their lives. They limit their social media usage — some don’t even care to have an account!

Unless you use social media for your work/business, chances are you don’t need to check Facebook/Twitter multiple times a day. Once a day should be more than enough to be in the loop of what your friends/family are up to — there’s really no need to refresh your Facebook/Twitter newsfeed hourly to see what your friend had for breakfast or to post your 100th selfie for the month. Use the time to do something more constructive.

4. They don’t complain (for too long)

While complaining can be a temporary stress reliever, highly productive people know that complaining doesn’t accomplish anything. They focus on identifying solutions and working on their problems over complaining.

The next time you feel like complaining, use the 15 to 30 minutes to work on your problems instead. Every little step you take, even if little, will go a long way.

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5. They don’t do things based on urgency only

Highly productive people don’t do things based on urgency (or at least, not based on urgency only) — they do things based on their importance. They know that the urgent tasks are distractions from the real big rocks, and it’s by focusing on the other important tasks that usually never become urgent that they will make the real impact.

The problem with most of us is that we don’t prioritize our to-dos — we do whatever comes to mind or whatever comes tops on our to-do list. This usually means doing the urgent stuff first, which is NOT necessarily the important stuff.  In my latest book with Lifehack 10 Rules of Super Productive People, I share the best way to prioritize your to-dos so that you’ll achieve maximum results with minimal effort.

6. They don’t do things without a deadline

Setting timelines (including deadlines) is Rule #2 of 10 Rules of Super Productive People. Highly productive people know that doing things without a deadline is the surefire formula for procrastination and overly-drawn-out projects. Without a deadline, they’ll either take double the time they need to accomplish the project or never complete it. Hence, they always set clear due dates for their goals and tasks, and this includes setting mini-milestones to achieve along the way.

7. They don’t try to do everything themselves

Highly productive people know that they can’t accomplish everything themselves, so they don’t try to do that. They leverage on the help of other people, be it colleagues, managers, agencies, and outsourced contractors, to support them in their work. After all, no man is an island.

8. They don’t waste any time

Highly productive people never allow time to go by wasted. Every little time pocket, even if it’s just five minutes, is important to them. They use stray minutes in their schedule to get something done, and they know that these few minutes, when added together, can bring a huge impact to their productivity.

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9. They don’t just work hard, they work smart too

Highly productive people know that just as it is important to work hard, it is even more important to work smart. So, they find ways to do things easier, with less effort — and if possible, without involving them. Automating, relying on systems, delegating, outsourcing, and hiring employees are different strategies they use to offload work such that they can get to the more important stuff.

10. They don’t work endlessly without rest

Highly productive don’t work endlessly without rest because they know that it’s a surefire way to become burn out. Rather, they pace themselves out and ensure they get adequate rest every day. They know that the path

10 Rules of Super Productive People Book

If you find yourself nodding to the ideas in this post, you’ll love 10 Rules of Super Productive People. Chocked full of practical tips and advice, this book is about the 10 critical principles of productivity that differentiate super productive people from less productive people. From practical how-tos, to concrete tips, to real-life examples, this book will help YOU to achieve your maximum productivity.

Don’t just take my word for it — here’s a feedback from one of my blog readers Lizette who just purchased the book two days ago:

“I bought your book the day before yesterday and feedback as follows: It is probably the best productivity book I’ve read. I found that I was already implementing some of the chapters (as I have been focusing on being more productive anyway) but there were several chapters that I could use to make dramatic changes right away — the one that was the most relevant for me was the section covering using time pockets more effectively.

 

Then I also took to heart a number of other chapters such as the one about sorting out a daily routine that keeps one energized – I have been very patchy about doing this in the past. It is amazing how just quantifying this as a specific activity for productivity, allows me to gain clarity in this regard.”

Grab your copy NOW from the Lifehack Book Store.

How productive are you, on a scale of 1 to 10? Do you commit any of the productivity boo-boos outlined in this post? Share in the comments section.

Featured photo credit: Personal Excellence Quotes via personalexcellence.co

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More by this author

Celestine Chua

Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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