Advertising
Advertising

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.)

Advertising

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.)

Advertising

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.)

Advertising

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.)

Advertising

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

More by this author

These 20 Regrets From People On Their Deathbeds Will Change Your Life This Short Animation Reveals A Brutal Truth About Life That Everyone Should Watch What You Need to Remember to Deal With Loss in Life Opposites Attracts: Couples with Different Characters Work Well There’s A Lot To Reflect On The Way We Date Today

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next