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12 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do

12 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do

Do you struggle to get things done? Being highly productive is a skill that everyone should master. It’s not what a productive person does that sets them apart, but often the things highly productive people don’t do. Here’s a list of 12 things you shouldn’t do if you want to become highly productive.

1. They don’t waste time.

Wasting time is the antithesis of productivity. Productive people get things done. The first step to getting things done? Start doing it. Put down the phone, turn off the TV and close down the social networks. All those things can be done when the task at hand is complete. The best way to be a highly productive person is truly simple. Start a task. Finish a task. Don’t waste time before or during.

2. They don’t make excuses.

When something needs to get done, don’t let anything stand in the way. Obstacles are your responsibility to overcome. Plan for them, add cushion in the amount of time to account for them, but in the end, excuses are just obstacles you failed to account for. Learn to anticipate all the possible challenges you may encounter in a task and ensure you have a plan to overcome them. By taking responsibility for the challenges, you won’t need excuses.

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3. They don’t forget deadlines.

Take pride in doing what you set out to do. Highly productive people understand everything they need to accomplish and when they need to accomplish each task by. No matter how small, each task that gets completed on time makes the next, more complex task more likely to completed in a timely manner. So set deadlines, write them down and knock them out. You’ll find you have much more time than you thought and get much more done.

4. They don’t expect help.

Highly productive people control each task and ensure that they have a plan and a back-up plan for each aspect. Depending on others, especially those who haven’t been fully vetted and proven, is one of the pitfalls that can drive a project timeline into the ground. While you will always need to depend on others and use the resources available to you to start at an optimal production level, it’s vital that you ensure that you give those resources ample time, needed motivation, and always have a drop date where you move to plan B. Take help where you can. But never expect it. Ensure that you keep control of your timelines, deadlines and quality, and you’ll be more productive in everything you do.

5. They don’t over-promise.

Productivity is about setting a goal and taking the steps needed to deliver on that goal. When you are over zealous with your goals or over aggressive with your timelines, you open the real possibility of failure. To remain highly productive, it’s paramount that you understand your strengths, weaknesses, and what you can accomplish in a given time. Know you can accomplish what you set out to and ensure you have a plan. By making a conscious effort to understand what you can do, you will minimize opportunities for failure and stay highly productive.

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6. They don’t blame others.

Take pride in what you do and take responsibility for each task, project, and goal you accept. There will be problems, obstacles, and hurdles that you must overcome. The people you depend on may not live up to their end of the bargin. But remember that in the end, you are responsible. Don’t make someone else the scapegoat if you miss a deadline. Take responsibility and learn from the experience. Learn how to utilize your resources and ensure you have a plan if and when they fail. You’ll find that when you take responsibility, you will finish sooner, plan for the obstacles and learn how much to trust.

7. They don’t forget to plan.

Highly productive people know what they are going to do and have a plan to get there. No matter how hard you work, without a plan, you leave more opportunity for failure. Write down your to-do list daily and come up with a plan to accomplish it daily.

8. They don’t stay stagnant.

Highly productive people are always looking for ways to improve their processes. Reading LifeHack is a great start. Finding new, creative ways to accomplish tasks will help you become more productive. Always work to optimize your processes. The more time you save on the little things, the more time you have to finish the big stuff.

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9. They don’t stop learning.

Highly successful people have a thirst for learning. Whether reading books, reading articles, taking classes or finding time for mentoring, a successful person will continually learn and become more educated. Keeping your mind sharp will help you solve problems, allowing you to stay more productive and better able to meet the challenges that you face on a daily basis.

10. They don’t back down.

You will run into problems, encounter obstacles and hit road blocks. Don’t back down! You have the tools to overcome even the toughest problems. Take them head-on, find a solution that fits your abilities and time frame, and start fixing it right away. You’ll learn that there’s nothing too big for you to overcome if you face it head-on.

11. They don’t let failure stop them.

You will fail. But failure is not a reason to stop, rather an incredible reason to move forward. Learn from your failures, find ways to overcome them, and never let them stop you. Even the most productive people fail. But it’s how you deal with failure that separate the truly highly productive people.

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12. They don’t ignore the details.

Often times, when you boil it down, the difference between someone who is productive and unproductive is the details. It’s the small things that make the difference between getting projects done and failing to meet deadlines. Focus on the details and you’ll enjoy more success, and you can truly become a highly productive person.

Featured photo credit: Kris Krug via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Founder, BrandingBeard.com

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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!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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