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7 Things Highly Efficient People Do Every Day

7 Things Highly Efficient People Do Every Day
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Ever feel like you’re just not getting enough done? Like you are wasting time, effort, and expense?

Studies conducted as early as 2005 found the average weekly work hours per person was about 45, but of those hours 17 were considered unproductive. Things have gotten worse over the years with the average work week now approximately 47 hours. People are not better at using their time effectively. We waste time, effort, and expense on excessive e-mails, pointless meeting, and constant interruptions. This means we hardly get anything done the way it ought to. How can we stop this wastage and maximize our personal efficiency in our workplace, family life, school, and other areas of life?

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One think we can do is look at the most productive and efficient people around and pick up on what they are doing right. Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you’re getting work done. Here are seven things highly efficient people do every day you can emulate to your benefit.

1. Highly efficient people plan their day beforehand.

It’s quite simple, really. When you don’t plan, you plan to fail. That is because you don’t have a focus and can easily be swayed by other people’s demands of money, skills or even your presence. Highly productive people plan out their day beforehand with written ‘to-do’ lists, appointments, and planners to help them focus their activities. This means they are not easily swayed by other people’s demands. They know exactly what they have to do each day before they set off to work. Plan your day beforehand with an end goal in mind. It will improve your efficiency and empower you to say “no” to anything that might steal your focus from your core goals.

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2. Highly efficient people allocate adequate time for priority tasks.

They differentiate between “important” and “unimportant” tasks and allocate enough time and effort for the priority tasks. They know it is easy to lose track of goals if the importance of tasks are confusing. This disciplined approach ensures they do important tasks first and stick to their to-do list, schedules and appointments. Set enough time to get your main work done, and then fit in some time in there for breaks and low-priority tasks like checking e-mail or social media accounts. Controlling your day in this way means you won’t be spending time on the wrong things in the wrong places while ignoring your priority tasks. You will work efficiently.

3. Highly efficient people eliminate distractions.

Distractions have gotten so bad today that Ed Hallowell, former professor at Harvard Medical School and author of Driven to Distraction, says we have “culturally generated ADD.” From scintillating apps on our handsets to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and loud music from the next door neighbor, we have all kinds of distractions present 24/7. Highly efficient people block all these distractions by any means necessary, including switching off their phones and disconnecting from the internet to get work done. They know every minute you’re sitting around checking Facebook, you’re not taking action to get you closer to your dreams. Eliminate distractions to protect your productive hours, focus your attention and get what need to be done, done right.

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4. Highly efficient people delegate tasks.

Nobody can do every single thing and do it well. Highly efficient people know this and are not afraid to let go of control and delegate tasks. They don’t attempt to do it all or assume all responsibility. They carefully and meticulously give responsibility to talented, trusted people whom they have high expectations of. This demonstrates they have faith in the abilities of others and facilitates teamwork towards a common goal. Don’t try to do everything on your own or micromanage. Delegate or outsource tasks when you can’t realistically complete them successfully on your own. Rally others around a common goal and it will boost your efficacy and significantly increase your productivity.

5. Highly efficient people manage their mood and emotions.

No single day is exactly the same as another. Sometimes you will wake up happy and excited, other times you will wake up sad and uninspired. Highly efficient people know better than to let mood swings have the better of them. They understand losing it only makes things worse and reduces your productivity. When offended, they take a deep breath rather than break into angry outbursts. They guard their emotions jealously and address any conflict in a cool and collected manner. Stay positive and express empathy for other people to manage any bad or angry mood. Adopt a morning ritual like exercise or meditation as it tends to improve your mood and help you better manage anything that gets thrown at you during the day.

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6. Highly efficient people stick to a proper work-life balance.

Stress from not taking a break hinders efficiency. Highly efficient people make time for rest, reflection, pleasure, and family every day. They have a strong sense of work-home boundary. This ensures they are sufficiently motivated, inspired, rested, and recharged, both body and mind. Don’t take your work too seriously. Working too much will slow everything down (reduce your efficiency), cause exhaustion, and bring frustration. Similarly, don’t work too little as it can result in distraction, boredom, or worse, laziness. Find the right balance between your work and personal life. Most importantly, never neglect your family and friends. You need these people to lead a wholesome, happy and productive life.

7. Highly efficient people sleep enough.

The importance of getting a good night’s sleep is critical. You need seven to nine hours of sleep per night for your body and brain to rest and function at its best. Highly efficient people make it their priority to get these hours of sleep every day. They know it helps them wake up the next day rejuvenated and energized for the day ahead. Get enough sleep every day. It will help you perform at your peak and give your efficacy a real boost.

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Featured photo credit: pitbull2013 via flickr.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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