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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

Life Coach, Blogger

42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 11 Practical Ways To Stop Procrastination

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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