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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.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

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