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10 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do

10 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do
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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 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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