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12 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do

12 Things Highly Productive People Don’t Do
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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

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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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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