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16 Everyday Habits of Highly Productive People

16 Everyday Habits of Highly Productive People

Most articles about everyday habits offer only the overall, generic advice like: ‘go above and beyond,’ ‘get more organized,’ ‘respect others,’ etc. without offering any doable tricks or examples of what this actually looks like. What many of these articles fail to provide is applicable, basic tips that the basic layman can apply to life tomorrow and instantly feel better about their circumstances. That ends here.

Below you will find a list of 16 tips and tricks that will help guide you to a more fulfilled life.

1. They Make Lists

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the requirements of a dream-like project. Creating a daily list of “action items” that need to be accomplished keeps successful people honest, motivated, and constantly progressing. Start small, and gradually build. (Trick: do this first thing in the morning. Make a brief list of all the things you need to accomplish to make the day a triumph.)

2. They Maximize Down Time

There’s always something to learn, or things that need to get done. Successful people embrace this. Having a time surplus is a good indicator that your challenge is either too small or you’re not thinking big enough. (Trick: concentrate on segregating your free time – i.e. one hour video editing practice, half hour reading video editing book, half hour watching beautifully edited films of others, repeat.)

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3. They Reflect on Mistakes & Grow

Carol Dweck concentrates on the fixed vs. growth oriented pathways of the brain in her New York Times best selling book Mindsets. When faced with a challenge, overcoming fear, or coming back from a “failure,” successful people are focused on growth more than they fixate on the outcome of failure. (Trick: when feeling letdown, reflect by writing 3 things that went wrong in the process and how you plan to fix them next time.)

4. They Limit Technological Distractions

We live in a world that is constantly stimulated by electronic communication. Text messaging, the virtual worlds of social media, and mobile email capability can become serious time drains if handled inappropriately. (Trick: limit yourself to checking your social media accounts and emails once a day to limit distractions. There’s an app to keep you honest with that.)

5. They Forget About Perfection

Eric Thomas sums it perfectly with his statement, “There will never be the perfect time to do a great thing.” Successful people understand this, and don’t use their perfectionism substitute for procrastination. No matter how inexperienced, uneducated, or unprepared you might feel, right now is the best time to jump into action. (Trick: think of an endeavor you undertook and performed perfectly. No mistakes at all. Difficult? That’s what I thought.)

6. They Collect Their Thoughts Immediately

For many successful people, their best ideas, or what psychologists call ah-ha ‘moments,’ come at inopportune times like during exercise or their daily commute. Collecting those thoughts will allow you to reflect on them later. (Trick: keep a pocket-sized journal in your backpack or purse for note taking. There are apps for this, too.)

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7. They Do Nice Things, But Don’t Tell Everyone

One of the many problems mass media has created is the idea that successful people always perform in front of others. As a society we often discredit the amount of hard work, practice, and sleepless nights these phenoms spent alone with their craft, with no one around. (Trick: do something small each day for a whole week to progress your dream. Tell no one.)

8. They Remind Themselves of Death

We have a limited amount of time on earth, and there’s no sense in hiding from how fast time goes. Successful people understand this, and use it as an advantage in letting no day go by wasted or squandered. (Trick: Envision an older version of yourself watching you throughout the day, and do today what you’d regret later in life. Creepy? Yes. Effective? Yes.)

9. They Define Success Themselves

Success is a large word thrown around by many small mouths. It’s a shame and, honestly, it’s a sham. A large bank account, sexy spouse, or lavish wardrobes do not define success in business, life, love, and other. YOU do. (Trick: look to people you idolize. Write down what you like about them. Chances are good that the adjectives and emotions you used are some of their proudest features.)

10. They Outwork Everyone

My mother once told me that, “There will always be someone stronger, faster, smarter, and more capable than you, but you’ll never be outworked.” Though some may view this as counterproductive, I’ve never had such sage and practical advice in my life. (Trick: pretend adversity. I guarantee you’ll want to prove everyone wrong as a result, even if they’re made up.)

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11. They Don’t Envy Others

Successful people don’t have time to worry about the successes or failures of others because they’re too focused on what they want. Eliminate envy, and other negative emotions, as you’ll surely free your mind for bigger things. (Trick: talk up and freely promote others you admire, even if they don’t return the favor.)

12. They Heed Danger in Lounging

I’m not here to demonize TV, but studies have shown that success and television viewing have a negative correlation (when success goes up, television watching goes down). In fact, Craig Dewie did a brilliant piece on this some time ago. We only have so much free time in the day, and successful people spend it educating themselves by feeding their brain instead of numbing it.

13. They Believe That Fate Is Fake

Destiny and luck is a product of hard work and sacrifice. Successful athletes, CEOs, and film stars don’t “take days off.” They’re consistently dedicated to bettering each aspect of their life daily. (Trick: don’t overload yourself at once. Take small bites, 7 days a week, and build up.)

14. They Are The Man in the Glass

Successful people know what they want, and visualize how their strengths and weaknesses will play to their favor or downfall. Sure, everyone’s filled with doubt and fear that they’ll flop, but successful people know exactly what it takes to rise above as a result of spending so much time alone. At the end of the day, they are the only person they answer to. (Trick: Be by yourself. No phone. No friends. No roommates. You. Alone. BY YOURSELF.)

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15. They Embrace Criticism

Nobody likes being booed, but they normally come from the cheap seats. Instead of getting defensive and immediately dismissing the negative opinions of others, successful people listen, heed those words, and use them to grow. (Trick: next time you’re confronted with negativity, agree and thank them for it. It will completely disarm your hater.)

16. They Always Finish Strong

No one, I repeat, NO ONE is an off-the-bat success. From Muhammad Ali to Mahatma Gandhi, all successes have taken their bruises and lumps, and they kept on going. No matter what happens, or whatever the end result may be, seeing something through to the end will help you develop the resolve to continue taking chances, growing, and bettering yourself.

Next time you’re in the situation of becoming your own worst critic, remember that,

“The road to personal excellence has no end.”

Trust in yourself, keep your head down, and keep moving forward no matter what.

Featured photo credit: Architect at work via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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